In a groundbreaking decision, the University of Indiana will no longer allow student-athletes with a history of sexual or domestic violence to compete in the school’s college athletics.
The Indianapolis Star reports that in the wake of a number of scandals across the country that sparked debate on how big-time college athletics handle the troubling issue, the Bloomington university has enacted a policy that disqualifies “any prospective student-athlete—whether a transfer student, incoming freshman or other status—who has been convicted of or pleaded guilty or no contest to a felony involving sexual violence” from playing at the school. The ban also includes athletes whose backgrounds include “dating violence, domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or sexual violence.”
Athletics director Fred Glass came up with the policy after consulting with campus organizations and entities, including IU’s Office of Student Welfare and Title IX, and its Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. The Indiana University-Bloomington Faculty Athletics Committee approved the measure April 12.
“I think this will be an important policy to help protect members of the Indiana University community,” said Glass. “My hope is that we’re leading in this area, and maybe others will follow with, maybe not the exact same policy, but one that fits their particular institutions.”
The new rule includes an appellate process to look into specific situations for prospective players who may want their circumstances considered by a special committee. The decisions on appeals will be handled outside of the athletics department, says Glass.
In 2015 the Southeastern Conference barred its members from accepting transfers with “serious misconduct” in their past. The Big 10 Conference—which includes Indiana—allows its member institutions their own discretion on the matter. The policy follows increased public scrutiny on how universities handle sexual assault and violence committed by student-athletes.
In July, the University of Tennessee agreed to pay $2.48 million to eight women who said they were ignored after they reported being assaulted by six athletes. Plaintiffs in a Title IX lawsuit filed in January allege that Baylor University’s football players committed 52 rapes in four years. Many people were outraged after video surfaced of Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon punching a woman during a 2014 confrontation in a sandwich shop—breaking her jaw. Mixon was suspended for one year and returned to lead the Sooners in rushing.
Mixon will play in the National Football League next season, and one NFL executive refers to him as the best prospect in the draft.