The question is simple but tough for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to answer. This debate ensued recently after a recurrent sex offender, Jamil Cooks, was named Alcorn State’s top athlete. The NCAA has no disciplinary rule exclusive to convicted felons or any other rule that limits or denies them the privilege of participating in NCAA sports. The NCAA is not changing its policy anytime soon either or giving in to public pressure. The Association believes that the authority to enroll and recruit students is vested in its member schools and NCAA will not interfere in the process.
Concerned individuals argue that if NCSS sets a filter against students with criminal records, universities will stop enrolling them as well. But debating this point keeps away from raising the right question—why do schools recruit such individuals who have been proven dangerous? Why would any school want to risk exposing its student body to criminals? This can be likened to a ticking time bomb deployed by schools and it is a risk that many institutes eagerly take.
According to a study by clinical psychologists, approximately 90% of sexual assaults on campus are carried out by repeat offenders and the case studies are numerous to support the notion. Universities can mitigate this risk by taking precautionary measures such as extra supervision for sex offenders, or training of sexual assault prevention for such students. These steps can also be used as leverage in courts as defense if someone sues the university.
In the past, Arizona State University expelled a student for groping and threatening women on campus but he returned back again at the appeal of his coach since he was a star athlete. After re-enrolling, he raped a female student within her dorm room and the Arizona Board of Regents had to pay the student $850,000 as compensation.
In 2007, a six figure settlement was reached when a lawsuit was filed against the University of Georgia. The victim student was raped at the hands of a football player who was previously expelled from his community college on sexual assault charges against two women.
Brandon Austin, a basketball athlete, with a sexual assault record has switched three colleges owing to crimes of sexual nature. Another football player from Vanderbilt University transferred to Alcorn State as he was expelled because of assault on women. He is one of Jamil Cook’s teammates so that’s two offenders in a team now, roaming around the campus without restrictions.
Sports personnel speculate that the more these incidents are witnessed, the more pressure NCAA will face to introduce amendments in its policy regarding athletes with a criminal record. Colleges practice discretion when submitting player profiles to NCAA so it is also expected from educational institutions to refrain from enrolling convicted felons or accused individuals.
If you are a student facing criminal charges, then do not hesitate for a legal consult. Contact Konsett Law Firm for a free evaluation and an attorney, should you require one.