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Temple Faculty Member Available to Discuss USA Today NCAA Sexual Assault Report

By: Steve Orbanek
First Published: December 20, 2019
Topics: Faculty, In the News, Sport, STHM School

Elizabeth Taylor is an expert on sexual assault, sexual harassment and organizational culture within intercollegiate athletic departments.

PHILADELPHIA—For years, many folks have believed that top Division I athletes receive special treatment. A recent USA Today report has revealed this to be true; even when it comes to sexual assault.

According to the report, records from 35 public Division I universities show that National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) athletes are disciplined for instances of sexual misconduct at three times the rate of the general student population since 2014. The greatest offenders happen to be football players.

The report does not surprise Elizabeth Taylor, an assistant professor at Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management. Taylor’s research has focused on sexual harassment and sexual assault education. Her recent work has examined the organizational culture within intercollegiate athletic departments.

“Academic research on the prevalence of sexual violence committed by intercollegiate student-athletes dates back to the mid-1990s,” Taylor says. “It’s continually suggested (male) student-athletes commit acts of sexual violence at higher rates than the general student body.”

One of the most troubling aspects of the report was how previous instances of engaging in sexual assault often does not hinder a student-athlete from continuing his or her playing career. Regardless of whether a school suspends, dismisses or expels an athlete for sexual misconduct, NCAA rules are in place that can help that athlete continue their career. Sometimes it happens immediately.

Take the case of LaDarrius Jackson, for instance. The report details how the former University of South Florida football player was repeatedly accused of sexual assault in 2017 and arrested twice in two weeks on charges of sexual battery and false imprisonment. The university also found he violated its “non-consensual sexual intercourse” policy and expelled him. However, only one year later, Jackson was back playing Division I football, this time for Tennessee State University.

“Since instances of sexual violence (e.g., sexual assault) are not currently against NCAA policy and are instead legal matters, the NCAA has been able to refrain from getting involved in many of these instances,” Taylor says. “However, recently several institutions and conferences (e.g., Texas at San Antonio, Big Sky Conference) have adopted serious misconduct policies aimed at preventing potential student-athletes with a history of engagement in serious misconduct (e.g., any act of sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual exploitation, or any assault that employs the use of a deadly weapon or causes serious bodily injury) from participating in intercollegiate athletics at the institution(s).”

The USA Today report goes on to note that many athletic departments claim to have no knowledge of an athlete’s past abuse history. Instead, they rely on word of mouth from former coaches and questionnaires, when they bring on a transfer athlete who may have a criminal past.

“Although background checks for coaches are common, student-athletes are not typically subject to these same standards. Therefore, unless a student-athlete finds themselves in the news for their actions, it is likely they would be able to transfer from one institution to another without issue, even if they had previously committed an act of sexual violence,” Taylor says.

About the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management

Established in 1998, the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) at Temple University has a distinguished tradition preparing leaders in the sport, recreation, tourism and hospitality industries.

Thoroughly committed to providing student-centered education and professional development relevant to today’s thriving sport, tourism and hospitality industry — STHM integrates applicable, real-world experience into the curriculum and classroom through its global network of industry partners and well-connected alumni network. Our award-winning faculty and cutting-edge research institutes engage in pioneering research, informing business practices and providing students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in these fast-growing industries.

The School offers undergraduate degree programs in sport and recreation management and tourism and hospitality management; traditional graduate degree programs in sport business, and hospitality management; and two online graduate degree programs in executive sport business and travel and tourism. STHM also offers a PhD program in business administration with a concentration in tourism and sport.