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NCAA Will Not Hold Baylor Accountable for Failing to Report Sexual Assault

In 2016, Baylor publicly shared the summary of an independent investigation that revealed 17 women reported “sexual or domestic assaults involving 19 [football] players, including four alleged gang rapes.” Choosing not to release the full report, Baylor’s summary found the institution “failed to consistently support” students coming forward with reports of sexual assault. In fact, the investigators found school officials “directly discouraged” the reporting of such assaults.

After the report surfaced, the NCAA conducted its own five-year investigation to determine whether the university violated any NCAA rules by failing to disclose the sexual assault reports. This month, the NCAA concluded its hands were tied. NCAA member institutions have yet to approve national rules making sexual assault or violence a violation; policing such conduct remains with individual institutions. The NCAA rules do prohibit member institutions from treating athletes significantly different than their other students. In this instance, Baylor’s “campus-wide culture of non-reporting” sexual violence was so rampant that it did not appear athletes were given special treatment. Baylor admitted its “moral and ethical failings” to the NCAA but argued its failings did not “constitute violations of NCAA legislation. Because the football players did not receive preferential treatment, the NCAA agreed Baylor did not violate its rules.

In a press conference, the NCAA chief hearing officer stated, “Faculty and staff throughout campus did not know or understand their obligation to report allegations of sexual and interpersonal violence.” NCAA President Mark Emmert asserted the NCAA findings demonstrate why the association needs to change and align its authority with its responsibility to address critical issues in college sports. Other organizations have held Baylor somewhat more accountable for its actions. The U.S. Department of Education fined the school $460,000 for violations of the Clery Act, and the Big 12 athletic conference fined the school $2 million for “reputational damage to the conference and its members” arising out of the sex scandal.