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NCAA Creates New Policy for Sexual Assault Prevention on Campuses

College sexual assaults have recently made major headlines across the country. Our own state of Minnesota had two colleges, St Olaf in Northfield and U of M Minneapolis, with high profile sexual assaults in the past year. As a response to increased publicity on this crucial issue, many colleges have been working hard to create stronger Title IX work groups and positions. Furthermore, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is creating policy change to prevent sexual assaults on campuses in regards to athletes.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a non-profit member led organization with the purpose of supporting the well-being and success of college athletes, is taking action to educate their members’ athletic departments about preventing sexual violence this school year. They recently announced a new policy that will be followed by their members’ athletic administrators, coaches, and student athletes. In Minnesota, there are 30 member universities, including University of Minnesota Twin Cities, St. Olaf College, St. Cloud State University, Macalester College, and Minnesota State University Mankato.

So what does this new policy mean? As of now, it is still a little unclear. The NCAA is asking that student athletes, coaches, and athletic administrators be educated annually on sexual violence prevention. Yet, there are no set guidelines or specifics on what that education would be. The two other conditions are that athletic departments will be knowledgeable, integrated, and compliant with the universities policies and processes around sexual violence; and their Title IX coordinator’s information must be readily available. Each year, the Board of Governors will release reports from the schools that were in compliance with the new policy. This report will be a resource for students (current and future), parents, sexual assault agencies, and the public to know which universities’ athletic departments are following through with prevention work and policy change.

In 2016, the NCAA released a tool kit titled Sexual Violence Prevention An Athletics Tool Kit for a Healthy and Safe Culture. This tool kit was part of a call for action for colleges to address campus sexual assault in connection to student athletes. It focuses on culture change and how to achieve that change within college athletics. The tool kit encourages collaboration, student athlete engagement, and education. At this time, it is just a tool for athletic departments but not a requirement to implement in universities.

On August 15, 2017, five days after the policy announcement, US Senators, including Al Franken of Minnesota, composed a letter to the NCAA. In the letter, they requested that the NCAA create a more uniform policy around sexual violence prevention for universities, and that they review University of Oregon’s and Indiana University’s current policies because both have created policies around transfer students due to conduct at their previous university, which could include sexual misconduct.

We know a huge part of primary prevention is making policy changes. These are small steps being taken, but hopefully they are steps towards bigger change. It is hopeful to see the NCAA moving towards a change in sports culture around sexual violence.

Besides the NCAA’s tool kit, there is Coaching Boys Into Men (CBIM), an evidence-based program that trains and educates coaches on how to teach young male athletes healthy relationship skills with a focus message of violence does equal strength. Coaching Boys Into Men offers a coach’s and advocate’s tool kit, which includes steps and advice on how to get this program started, build partnerships, and evaluation. Their website offers access to the tool kits, train the trainer webinars, and many other printable resources. Though CBIM has been proved effective with male high school students, it is a great starting place for shifting sports culture and could be even more effective if the messages were supported by college coaches too.

If you have a college in your area, do you know their current sexual violence policies or their Title IX coordinator? Do you know whether that university is providing prevention or bystander intervention education?