NCAA President Mark Emmert was one of the witnesses for what turned out to be an informative and constructive Senate committee hearing regarding the mix of collegiate athletics and academics. Emmert at times was on the receiving end of some valid criticisms of the NCAA, many of which Emmert confirmed are in the process of being addressed by the NCAA membership in the coming months, but he survived the afternoon hearing in one piece. There was most certainly a healthy of dose of politicians getting on their soapbox during their time slots in the schedule, which was to be expected.
One of the more striking revelations during the Senate committee hearing on Wednesday was when Missouri senator Claire McCaskill drilled into Emmert, asking why his position even exists and whether or not he is a leader or a minion of university presidents. The Senator was armed with data from a brand new report, conveniently published today by McCaskill’s office, which claimed 22 percent of the athletic departments in the country allow athletic departments to have oversight of investigations relating to sexual crimes allegedly committed by student-athletes. Only 34 percent of schools surveyed have an office on campus designed to assist victims of sexual abuse.
According to the details of the comprehensive study, 30 percent of public universities allow athletic departments to have oversight of any investigations tied to sexual crimes involving student-athletes. That is eight percent higher than the national sample (22 percent). McCaskill discussed the report’s findings while addressing concern over recent investigations around college football, singling out the Jameis Winston case at Florida State.
“We will never know if he was guilty or not because of who he is,” McCaskill said referring to Winston, addressing her concern over star players being able to escape justice. Winston was never charged with a crime by state authorities, and Florida State University’s own investigation failed to find a reason to punish the star quarterback. Of course, state authorities did not charge Winston with any crime either, which McCaskill neglected to mention.
The percentage of athletic departments with oversight on sex-related investigations is higher for medium-sized schools with an enrollment between 1,000 and 9,999 students, where 37 percent of the athletic departments having oversight authority. Division two schools, many falling within that previous range, have the highest percentage, with 48 percent of the schools having oversight privileges for athletic departments. Part of the reason for the higher numbers for medium-sized schools and D2 schools may be due to the available staff for schools of that size. With smaller schools to manage, the need for expanded staffing may not be as necessary, but eery institution is different.
So is this an alarming problem? That may be up for debate, and that debate may just be getting underway. You can read the full report and evaluate all of the data and come to your own conclusions. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.