Indiana University says it will no longer allow prospective student-athletes with a history of domestic or sexual violence to participate in its athletic programs.
The policy, announced Friday, applies to any student-athlete “who has been convicted of or pleaded guilty or no contest to a sexual violence felony — including freshmen, transfer students or walk-ons.”
The school says coaches and athletic recruiters need to check all “publicly available information” about prospective players and their prior conduct, including a criminal background check and a review of their online activities.
“This policy is designed to help protect all members of the Indiana University community,” said Fred Glass, Indiana University Vice President and Director of Athletics, in comments posted to the school’s website.
“My hope is that we are leading in this area, and that other athletic departments will follow with similar policies that fit their institutions.”
In 2015, the Southeastern Conference, an athletic grouping made up of 14 southern U.S. universities, announced its decision to bar student-athletes transfers with histories of sexual assault, domestic violence or sexual violence. The ban applies to all sports and both men and women.
Similar restrictions have also been put in place in the Big 12 and Pac-12 athletic conferences.
In recent years, college athletics, as well as, national sports leagues (such as the National Basketball Association, National Football League, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball) have come under increased pressure to address the sexual abuse and domestic violence committed by their players.
A publication by the NCAA Sports Science Institute states that although there is no data to show whether student-athletes experience more violence than non-athlete peers, “violence precursors, such as aggression and control, are part of the athletics culture, and ‘group-think,’ which is embedded in team play, may allow some [violent] behaviors to go unchallenged.”
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 1-in-6 women and 1-in-33 men reported experiencing an attempted or completed rape at some time in their lives.
The U.S. Department of Education is investigating 327 cases of sexual violence at 235 colleges and universities nationwide.