PurposeIn order to understand how collegiate athletics fits within the wider problem of sexual violence on college campuses, the purpose of this paper is to start with an examination of the overall scope of the issue of sexual violence in the USA and the larger culture that produces it. Next, the relevant laws and adjudication of sexual violence operant in American colleges are outlined. Finally, college athletics is placed into this bigger context by highlighting a number of particular cases to illustrate a broader understanding of collegiate athletes involved in sexual violence.Design/methodology/approachThe author examines the history of rape laws and adjudication and the federal laws relevant to institutions of higher education. The author investigates the debate over adjudication of sexual violence within the criminal justice system or through campus systems. The author read previous literature to determine links between sexual violence and collegiate athletes and highlights particular cases that have gotten significant media attention for clues to the rape prone culture that can be fostered within collegiate athletics.FindingsThis analysis highlights how collegiate athletics can be a context that creates a rape prone culture and that universities and the criminal justice system need further reform to overcome long-standing beliefs in rape myths which perpetuate sexual violence, discourage reporting by victims of sexual violence, deter bystander intervention and underplay the impact of sexual violence on victims. Thus, structural changes are needed within collegiate athletic cultures as well as on college campuses to address sexual violence.Practical implicationsCollege campuses and athletic departments must address climates that create rape prone cultures. There remains a need for systematic data collection of perpetrators of sexual violence, along side data collection of experiences of sexual violence. College campuses and athletic departments must have in place procedures and policy that adhere to federal law, whereby athletes are not treated differently from non-athletes and victims are offered appropriate services that recognize the trauma of sexual violence. Further progress toward a standard of affirmative consent is needed to move toward greater sexual autonomy for everyone.Originality/valueThere is evidence that collegiate athletes are disproportionately represented among the population of sexual violence perpetrators on college campuses. Thus, it is vital to understand this population and that connection. The value of this work is to explicate the complicated adjudication process between university disciplinary processes and the criminal justice system.
Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 12, 2018
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