NCAA Mandates Certification of Sexual Violence Prevention Efforts NCAA Mandates Certification of Sexual Violence Prevention Efforts

NCAA Mandates Certification of Sexual Violence Prevention Efforts

On August 10, 2017, the NCAA adopted a sexual violence prevention policy that imposes important new obligations on its member schools. Under this new policy, each year the school president, athletics director and Title IX coordinator must attest that:

  1. Coaches, athletic administrators and student-athletes have been educated in sexual violence prevention;
  2. The athletics department is “knowledgeable about, integrated in and compliant with institutional policies and processes regarding sexual violence prevention and proper adjudication and resolution of acts of sexual violence;” and
  3. “The school’s policies regarding sexual violence prevention and adjudication— plus the name and contact information for the campus Title IX coordinator—are readily available in the athletics department and are distributed to student-athletes.”
The NCAA’s edict has been in the works for a year and grew out of recommendations made by the NCAA’s Commission to Combat Campus Sexual Violence, a group formed to assess sexual violence issues and make proposals regarding what athletics departments, conferences and the NCAA could do to achieve positive culture change. The Commission is composed of more than 20 presidents and administrators and is chaired by the superintendent of the United States Military Academy. This policy also follows up on the NCAA’s efforts to provide educational materials regarding sexual violence, including the handbook it published in 2014 called Addressing Sexual Assault and Interpersonal Violence: Athletics’ Role in Support of Healthy and Safe Campuses.

Many of these requirements are not entirely new. For example, in 2014 the NCAA passed a resolution requiring all coaches and student-athletes to be educated about sexual violence prevention, intervention and response. In addition, the Department of Education’s rules require contact information for the school’s Title IX coordinator to be distributed to all students, including student-athletes. This is generally handled, at a minimum, by placing this information in the student handbook and on the school’s website.

The certification requirement is a mandate to be taken seriously as it demonstrates the NCAA’s intent to diligently follow-up on these items to make certain schools are addressing sexual violence issues. Schools affiliated with the NCAA must review their policies and practices and ensure compliance with Title IX and NCAA standards. Documentation of the efforts taken to comply is strongly recommended, as is drafting and issuing an annual report summarizing those efforts. School presidents, athletic directors and Title IX coordinators must “attest” to the implementation of these new requirements, and “attest” is intended as a strong word. Understanding the obligations imposed and that these obligations are being met is the foundation for going forward. 

Michael Blickman and Nate Uhl are attorneys with Ice Miller LLP and each is called upon from time-to-time to lend their Title IX experience to assist clients with the development of Title IX specific policies and procedures, counseling clients during sexual misconduct investigations and hearings and representing clients during reviews undertaken by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. Blickman can be reached at michael.blickman@icemiller.com or (317) 236-2298. Uhl can be reached at nate.uhl@icemiller.com or (317) 236-2383.  

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader must consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader's specific circumstances.  
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