August 15, 2017

Wyden, Murray, Merkley, Democratic Senators Urge NCAA to Promote Campus Safety

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and five of their Senate Democratic colleagues today urged the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Commission to Combat Campus Sexual Violence to promote campus safety by recommending uniform policies for prospective student-athletes and athletes seeking to transfer between universities.

In a letter to the NCAA commission, the senators urged the commission to evaluate new student-athlete policies like those at the University of Oregon and Indiana University as the commission makes upcoming recommendations to the NCAA about policies to address campus sexual assault. 

Last year, the University of Oregon began requiring all transfer student-athletes to allow the university to review their student conduct records. Indiana University bans all prospective student athletes, not just transfer athletes, from practice, competition or receiving financial aid if they have a history of sexual violence.

“Campus sexual violence is one of the most critical issues facing our college campuses around the country and there is still much to be done to ensure that all students are safe on campus,” the senators wrote to the commission. “As many of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA’s) member colleges and conferences continue to change their policies to address prospective student-athletes with serious misconduct violations, we urge the commission to make recommendations that enable the NCAA to create a strong, uniform policy that addresses all prospective student-athletes.”

“All students deserve the opportunity to obtain a higher education free from sexual harassment and violence and to feel safe on campus,” the senators wrote.

Additionally, several athletic conferences, including the Southeastern Conference (SEC), have implemented policies banning transfer student-athletes who were dismissed from other schools for “serious misconduct,” which the SEC defines as, “sexual assault, domestic violence or other forms of sexual violence.” Following a letter from Wyden and Merkley last year, the Pac-12 Conference also adopted a conference-wide student conduct policy prohibiting student-athlete transfers from participating in athletics or receiving athletic aid if they are ineligible to re-enroll at any of their previous colleges due to student misconduct violations like sexual assault and harassment.

The senators also asked the commission to consider how the NCAA can establish policies that help universities ensure that sexual assault and other serious misconduct by student-athletes is reported, as well as ensure the accuracy and privacy of student-athletes’ information when implementing new policies such as criminal background checks for prospective athletes.

Sens. Al Franken, D-Minn., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Robert P. Casey, Jr., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., also signed the letter.

Read the full letter here