Indiana University Bans Student Athlete with History of Violence

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Student Athlete Screening

Earlier this month, Indiana University introduced a policy that bans student athletes with a history of sexual or domestic violence from participating in their programs. The measure was approved by the university’s athletic committee in early April. An Indiana University football player had been arrested on two counts of child molestation just a few months ago.

Indiana University’s policy change is the most recent in a series of schools taking a more proactive approach to dealing with incidents of sexual assault and domestic violence. In 2015, the Southeastern Conference (SEC) similarly banned member schools from accepting transfer students with a history of sexual assault, domestic assault, or other forms of sexual violence. SEC schools are required to adopt a background screening process to screen transferred student athletes.


The concerns

According to multiple research outlets, student athletes account for a disproportionate percentage of violent crimes committed by university students. In the past year, several universities have been in the headlines because of these types of incidents with their student athletes.

Despite the adoption of proactive screening policies by a handful of universities, most schools still do not have a process in place to screen their student athletes. Instead, most schools rely on their coaches and recruiting staff’s discretion.

On top of the safety concerns for university students, the universities themselves are dealing with severely damaging media coverage when an incident occurs at their school. Borrowing a concept from Warren Buffet, “it can take a long time build a reputation but minutes to ruin it.” Both parents and students are unhappy with the situation. A recent NCAA PSA highlights the issue well, while communicating that safety is a serious concern.

Steps to fix the issue

The most crucial step to fixing the issue is to stop waiting for something bad to happen before acting and to adopt a proactive policy. It isn’t enough to rely solely on the discretion of the coaching and recruiting staff that have different priorities. Instead, a good start would be implementing mandatory background checks for all student athletes – specifically to screen out potentially dangerous individuals based on a history of violence. The NCAA may make this mandatory at some point in the future.

Compliant Background Screening Practices
The Companion Guide

The topic of Background Checks is a tricky labyrinth to navigate these days. Let us help with the directions.

Student athlete background checks

Background checks come in all shapes and sizes and they were not all created equally. Despite their differences, most background screening services can be divided into two categories – live research and database searches. While the differences between the two types of background checks are expansive, they can be condensed down to a couple of basic contrasting points. Live research is more comprehensive and thorough, while being more expensive and gradual. Database research is quick and inexpensive, while often having issues with missing or inaccurate information.

With any sensitive situation, you should opt for the more comprehensive option to ensure the most comprehensive screening process. Live research is ideal for student athlete screening since it concerns student safety and the university’s reputation. Don’t sacrifice comprehensiveness for convenience.

Challenges for screening younger students

The most difficult challenge for screening student athletes – especially freshman athletes – is that juvenile records can be difficult to access. Many times, juvenile cases are sealed to the public and unaccusable for screening purposes. Some states allow for juvenile records to be publicly accessible in certain circumstances such as violent crimes where concerns for public safety outweigh privacy considerations. Restrictions on record access varies from state to state and county to county. Extenuating circumstances include situations where the juvenile is tried as an adult, or in some instances if the individual was 14 or older when charged.

Final Thoughts

Indiana University’s policy change is a great example of a university athletic program taking steps to be more proactive towards the safety of their students by implementing a screening process. The important thing moving forward will be to ensure that athletic programs remain compliant and accountable for the new policy. As they join a growing group of schools that are adopting this policy, I hope to see more schools take similar steps or even an edict from the NCAA to make student athlete screening mandatory for all schools under its charter.