US university bans athletes with history of sexual violence

Charlotte England
A race at the Indiana University Natatorium: Getty Images

An American university has banned student athletes with a history of sexual violence.

Incoming undergraduates who have been found guilty of sexual assault by a court or been the subject of a formal disciplinary procedure at their school or college, will no be able to practice or compete in any sport at Indiana University Bloomington (IU).

A directive, issued by the school’s athletics department, states people convicted of sex crimes will not be eligible for financial aid related to their sporting ability, and will not be allowed to represent the institution.

The policy at was inspired by a similar ban implemented in 2015 by members of the Southeastern Conference, a group of American athletic colleges located predominantly in the south of the country.

Members of the conference introduced a ban on student-athletes with “a history of sexual assault, stalking or interpersonal violence” transferring to any of its 14 schools for any sport, The New York Times reported.

“It’s something the SEC, with their transfer ban, I think raised the issue generally,” IU vice president and director of athletics Fred Glass told The Indianapolis Star. “We’ve been working on that since that time, in trying to put something together that makes sense for Indiana University.”

In IU's first-ever survey assessing the prevalence of sexual assault on campus, released in 2015, 17 per cent of female respondents reported being survivors of either rape or attempted rape.

Currently, there are five open federal investigations into sexual assault reports at the school, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

“My hope is that we’re leading in this area, and maybe others will follow with, maybe not the exact same policy, but one that fits their particular institutions,” Mr Glass told the IndyStar.

IU did not immediately respond to a request from The Independent for comment on the new policy.

Rape on campus is a major problem at US universities, where one in five female students nationwide claims to have been sexually assaulted.

A series of high profile incidents placed the issue in the spotlight, including last year's case involving Brook Turner.

The former Stanford University swimmer, was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman outside a fraternity house. He was released from prison after serving only half of a six-month sentence.

The case dominated the news amid allegations that the judge had imposed a lenient sentence because of Turner’s status as a successful student athlete at an elite university.

His victim delivered a powerful written statement in which she outlined the impact the attack had on her.

But both Turner and his father neglected the harm he had caused in their statements and instead complaining about the impact the case had had on his athletic career.

In the same year, a Columbia University student dragged a mattress to her graduation ceremony, after vowing to carry it every day until her alleged rapist was removed from campus - he never was.