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  • NCAA teams up with USOPC re: sex abuse


    The NCAA is now supporting the USOPC when it comes to denying accountability for sexually abused athletes. The NCAA has petitioned the California State Supreme Court to throw out a landmark California ruling aimed at protecting athletes from sexual abuse and consider its Amicus Brief in support of the USOPC and USA Taekwondo (attached).

    The Supreme Court case involves a ruling Estey & Bomberger obtained earlier this year (case number B280550) by California's 2nd District Court of Appeal. The appellate court ruled that USA Taekwondo, a National Governing Body of the USOPC, can be held liable for the harm caused to three athletes who were sexually abused by convicted coach Marc Gitelman.

    In asking the California Supreme Court to reverse the lower court ruling, the NCAA states:

    The NCAA, like the USOC, issues best practices and guidance for its nearly 1,100 member institutions. But the NCAA does not have the ability—with its few hundred employees—to police the day-to-day conduct of the thousands of coaches and student-athletes that work for or attend its member institutions. The NCAA therefore faces a choice familiar to all oversight or member-driven organizations (and similar to the choice that the USOC faced here)—whether it is better to issue best practices in an effort to prevent harm, even though it is logistically impossible to strictly enforce them.
    The NCAA cannot exert day-to-day control over and monitor the thousands of coaches and student-athletes employed by and enrolled at its nearly 1,100 member institutions across the country or to ensure compliance with its guidance.
    Consistent with its Constitution, the NCAA provides support and educational resources to member institutions so that each member institution can take actions—consistent with the federal, state and local laws applicable to the member institution—to protect the safety of its student-athletes. Such support has included assembling commissions and task forces to bring attention to the problem of campus sexual abuse and developing publications and guidance that member institutions can use.
    "The NCAA has a long history of looking the other way when its institutions fail to protect athletes from sexual abuse," attorney Stephen Estey said. "Despite thousands of student-athletes who were sexually abused at Ohio State, the University of Michigan, Michigan State and Baylor, it does not appear these four universities have not received a single sanction or admonishment from the NCAA."

    "Given the track record of both the USOPC and the NCAA, it's not surprising that they are both fighting for legal loopholes to escape accountability. Instead, they should be using their vast resources to implement programs and training to protect athletes from sexual abuse better," Estey said.

    “The NCAA stated that they support member institutions through model policies, educational resources, and forums for members to share best practices,” attorney Robert Allard said. “Yet, they also admit that they do not enforce such policies aimed at preventing sexual abuse. What good are policies without enforcement?”


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