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A system in need of repair

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FEBRUARY 08, 2017

Ten months ago, I wrote about an issue I hoped to never dedicate a column to again.

Of the countless pieces I have written for The Daily Californian, it is undoubtedly one of the few I am most proud of, almost entirely because I managed to engage both people who would read my normal sports stories (yes, I do mean my parents) and those who had never read my work before.

I wish I could say that since then there has been a miraculous change, that maybe my words had led to less sexual harassment or assault in collegiate athletics or that I have experienced more equality as a female sports journalist. But instead, I feel more passionately than I did last year.

If this issue continues to crop up, I have no problem using the space I have been given in this paper to keep pushing the importance of change.

Last year, it was former Cal men’s basketball assistant coach Yann Hufnagel finding a new job within a month of being found to have violated the UC sexual harassment policy. Hufnagel still has a job coaching for Nevada, and most people have forgotten the Cal men’s basketball program ever had a blemish on its record.

On a much larger scale, Baylor head coach Art Briles lost his job last May because he horribly mishandled reports of rape and sexual harassment in his program. Recently it was alleged that there were 52 acts of rape by over 31 football players between 2011 and 2014 at Baylor. This allegedly includes five instances of gang rape. But many of his assistants, and the athletic director of the school at the time, have found jobs sculpting young minds and making decisions about and around college athletics.

On Wednesday, the Big 12 announced that it was going to be withholding 25 percent of Baylor’s share of conference revenue until an outside review of the athletic department can determine if the school is in compliance with conference regulations and Title IX guidelines. It’s nice that they are finally taking action, and while that number could be around $7.5 million according to last year’s numbers, it doesn’t really seem like enough.

Also buried around the blaze of the Super Bowl and the political atmosphere were the allegations of abuse leveled against former Colorado assistant football coach Joe Tumpkin. While this case is also still very much in the process of working itself out, according to a report by Sports Illustrated, the Buffaloes’ head coach, Mike MacIntyre, knew about the abuse through conversation with the accuser. Despite this knowledge, Tumpkin was selected to fill the role of defensive coordinator in the team’s bowl game, the Alamo Bowl. The accuser was eventually granted a restraining order, and with the information public, Tumpkin resigned.

Time and time again, it’s the same story: these football programs care a lot about winning. Tumpkin appeared to be on the school’s strong recruiters, so they kept him on the coaching staff right up to National Signing Day. Yes, winning is important, winning is where the money comes from. But why does winning and getting good recruits come at the price of allowing people to be hurt and college athletes to be taught that hurting others is okay?

This story shouldn’t keep having to be told.

Imagine the example that is being taught. So you raped someone? Oh OK, well, we will have our lawyer, whom we pay an exorbitant amount, clean it up and intimidate the victim. Don’t worry, you won’t have to deal with this.

And we wonder why there are so many players in the NFL that break the law.

Someone is going to have to explain this to me, because I just don’t get it. To imagine that other schools around the country are encouraging athletes or setting an example to treat women in this way is sickening. Being able to abuse women shouldn’t be an incentive for a high school player to choose a college. College should instead be a time during which they learn how to act as adults and how to treat people with respect.

It is up to the NCAA to fix this. College football programs need to know that the cost of this happening is not even worth a shot at a national championship. The Baylor assistants need to experience more than just a finding a new home. Coaches are in very rare positions, having power to impact a program’s future, the recruits that they bring to their program and hundreds of student athletes on whom they are making a very significant impact.

We get it, NCAA Division I football. You are big and powerful. You have lots of money and dreams of bringing in even more.

But don’t force me to write another column in a few months about the same things happening over and over again.

Contact Alaina Getzenberg at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @agetzenberg.

FEBRUARY 09, 2017

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