As accusations of physical and sexual assault continue to mount against former and current Baylor football players, the university could find itself in hot water – especially since the administration may have swept some of these accusations under the rug.
“Well, it’s the same as the University of Tennessee case where you have allegations of athletic coaches not only not doing anything, but interfering with the disciplinary process and trying to favor the athletes and get them better deals or just prevent the entire disciplinary process from unfolding,” TV legal analyst Amy Dardashtian said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “So it’s akin to obstruction of justice. That’s a problem and it’s not a recent problem. These cases date back to 2007 – maybe even earlier – where victims are going and suing the universities for violating federal law.
“Under Title IX, the universities are obligated to not only efficiently and expeditiously investigate these claims, but also to offer support, counseling and academic support to the victims,” Dardashtian continued. “Not to alienate them and make them feel scared or make them feel that if they come forward nothing’s going to be done anyway so what’s the point, but to actually encourage them and support them. And that’s not being done. So universities are continuously being sued and then they have to pay all this money to the victims and then they put the policies in place to try to reform their athletic departments when really they should be proactive about it.”
There is, however, a problem that goes beyond Art Briles and Baylor that has to be acknowledged.
“People (come) forward and then when police try to follow up or the university tries to follow up, the victims are scared because a lot of these athletes are deadly weapons in and of themselves,” Dardashtian said. “If somebody’s going to threaten to take away their futures, they’re going to probably threaten those people behind the scenes. So yes, the victims initially come forward, but a lot of times they back out and the there’s just nothing that can be done.”
The same things happens in the NFL.
“Even when they discipline the players, they take them out for a little while until everybody forgets and then put them right back in the game,” Dardashtian said. “It goes on at both levels.”
Dardashtian believes that physical and sexual assaults – and the subsequent victim-bullying that occurs – have always been a problem; it’s just that now it’s getting more media attention.
“These universities need to put independent committees in place to oversee their athletic departments,” Dardashtian advised. “Not only that, but the government – if they’re going to enforce Title IX – they have an obligation. They should have annual audits by the government or the Department of Education Civil Rights Office, which also enforces Title IX, and there has to be somebody independent looking out for these women and looking out for the culture on campus. Because if you leave it to the athletic departments, there’s just too much money, there’s too much self-interest involved. There’s inevitably going to be corruption.”