Amorous Relationships Involving Athletics Department Personnel and Student Athletes
Policy Number: HR-46.01
Effective Date: March 2013
Responsible Officer: Senior Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Services
This policy was established to: (1) provide a safe and healthy environment for Student-Athletes so that they may reach their full potential as students and as athletes; and (2) to ensure that all Coaches and other Professional Staff Members in the Athletics Department adhere to ethical practices and do not develop inappropriate relationships with Student-Athletes, regardless of the students’ age or consent.
This policy applies to all eligible Faculty and Professional Staff Members in the Athletics Department, excluding any Professional Staff Member who is affiliated with a collective bargaining unit.
Implementation of this policy is the responsibility of the Athletic Director with guidance from the Athletic Director’s HR Partner.
The Senior Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Services is the Drexel University official responsible for the administration of this policy.
This policy strictly prohibits Amorous Relationships between any Coach and any Student-Athlete. Every Coach has an ethical obligation to maintain a professional relationship with Student-Athletes and to place the well-being of Student-Athletes ahead of the Coach’s personal interests. This responsibility includes the duty to provide a safe and healthy environment for the Student-Athlete to flourish, and to serve as a role model within the confines of a professional relationship. As a result, no Amorous Relationship between a Coach and a Student-Athlete—regardless of the perception of consent by one or both participants— can exist without jeopardizing the professionalism of the coach-athlete relationship and creating a significant conflict of interest. The respect and trust the Student-Athlete places in a Coach, and the vulnerability of the student-athlete in that relationship, make “consent” unreliable in this setting. Conflicts of interest are endemic to amorous relationships between Coaches and Student-Athletes, and the costs to the athlete, the team, the athletics program, and the University, necessitate a strict prohibition on amorous relationships between Coaches and Student-Athletes.
Even when the Coach has no direct professional responsibility for that Student-Athlete, other Student-Athletes may perceive that the Student-Athlete who has a sexual relationship with a Coach may receive preferential treatment from the Coach or the Coach’s colleagues. Such relationships are incompatible with the ethical obligations of the Coach and the integrity of the athletics program. Accordingly, this prohibition applies to relationships between all Coaches and all Student-Athletes in the intercollegiate athletics program.
With respect to a Coach and a Student-Athlete, whether or not the Student-Athlete is on that Coach’s team, the prohibition on amorous relationships shall remain in effect while that Student-Athlete is a matriculated student at the University.
- PROFESSIONAL STAFF MEMBERS
Similarly, amorous relationships between Student-Athletes and non-coaching Professional Staff Members are problematic regardless of whether the Professional Staff Member has supervisory control or authority over that Student-Athlete. This is so given the unique and important role that Professional Staff Members in the athletics department have with all Drexel student-athletes. For that reason, any Amorous Relationship between a Student-Athlete and a Professional Staff Member is prohibited.
- RELATIONSHIPS INVOLVING SPOUSES OR DOMESTIC PARTNERS
If a Coach or Professional Staff Member is married to (or in a civil union with), or is a domestic partner of, a Student-Athlete, and has supervisory control or authority over the Student-Athlete, such relationship must be disclosed to the associate athletics director for program compliance and the Athletics Director. If the relationship involves either of those persons, it must be disclosed to the Athletics Department’s HR Partner in the Human Resources Department. Once the relationship is disclosed, the Coach or Professional Staff Member must be recused and their responsibility reassigned so that they no longer have supervisory control or authority over that Student-Athlete. Care must be taken to ensure that the recusal and reassignment of responsibility does not negatively affect the Student-Athlete’s participation or benefits in the athletics or educational programs of the University. Failure to report such a relationship may subject the Coach or Professional Staff Member to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
Amorous Relationship is defined as any sexual, romantic, or dating relationship, not including marriage (or civil union relationships) or domestic partnerships.
Coach is defined as any person serving as a head coach, assistant coach, graduate assistant coach, coaching intern, or volunteer coach in the athletics department.
Professional Staff Member, for purposes of this policy, is defined as any Drexel University employee, contractor, or student, other than a Coach, serving in the athletics department in an administrative, management, or support capacity, or in any capacity in which the person supervises Student-Athletes or has responsibility for the provision of services or other benefits to student-athletes.
Student Athlete is defined as any student of the University who is a member of a varsity athletics team as defined by University and NCAA regulations and/or is a member of any club sport team or an intramural athletic team that is formally recognized by the University.
Supervisory Control or Authority is defined as any individual having responsibility with the potential to affect the Student-Athlete’s participation in the athletics program, and includes the provision of direct services and benefits to the Student-Athlete, such as: training, health services, academic and student life program support, tutoring, counseling, eligibility determinations, program compliance, and control over the Student-Athlete’s team.
- REPORTING A VIOLATION
Any person may allege a violation of this policy by contacting the Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Athletics, the Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Employees, who is in the Human Resources Department, or the University’s Title IX Coordinator. Any person receiving such a report must immediately notify the Athletics Director. Any coach or Professional Staff Member with information suggesting a possible violation of the policy must promptly report it to the Athletics Director, and the failure to do so will be considered a violation of this policy. If the report or information implicates the Athletics Director or the Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Athletics in a violation of the policy, it should be directed to the Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Employees in the Human Resources Department. If a report or information suggests a violation of the University’s Equality and Non-Discrimination policy or the Sexual Harassment policy, it should be directed to the Associate Vice President for Equality and Diversity, who is the University’s Title IX Coordinator.
Upon receiving such a report or information, the Athletics Director shall immediately notify the Athletics Department’s HR Partner in the Human Resources Department and, if the report or information suggests a violation of the University’s Equality and Non-Discrimination policy or Sexual Harassment policy, the Associate Vice President for Equality and Diversity, as the Title IX Coordinator of the University. Once on notice of a report or information of a possible violation of the policy, the Human Resources Department, through the Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Employees, or the Associate Vice President for Equality and Diversity shall promptly appoint an investigator outside of the athletics department to conduct a prompt and fair investigation into whether the policy was violated. Such investigation shall include interviews with any Coaches, Professional Staff Members, and Student-Athletes with relevant information, and shall provide any Coach or Professional Staff Member accused of violating the policy with an opportunity to respond to the allegations. In investigating a possible violation of the policy, the standard of proof to be used is whether it is more likely than not that the policy was violated (a “preponderance of the evidence” standard, not the higher standard of proof used in criminal proceedings, “beyond a reasonable doubt”). Using this standard, the investigation will result in a determination of whether the policy was violated.
- COORDINATION OF INFORMATION RELATING TO VIOLATIONS OF OTHER UNIVERSITY POLICY AND/OR CRIMINAL LAW
If the investigation leads to information suggesting that sexual harassment may have occurred, it shall be promptly forwarded to the Office of Equality and Diversity. If the investigation leads to information suggesting potential criminal conduct, it shall be immediately forwarded to the Department of Public Safety which will alert the University’s Office of General Counsel, to determine, consistent with state and local law, whether to notify appropriate law enforcement officials. However, the enforcement of this policy shall not be delayed pending the results of a criminal investigation.
- DISCIPLINARY ACTION
If an investigation determines that a Coach or Professional Staff Member has violated the policy, that Coach or Professional Staff Member shall be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination. The Athletics Director, in consultation with the Human Resources Department and the Associate Vice President for Equality and Diversity as the Title IX Coordinator, as necessary, shall determine the disciplinary action to be imposed. Any disciplinary action shall be taken in accordance with applicable university policy. If the Athletics Director is the subject of any violation of this policy, then the Human Resources Department in consultation with the Associate Vice President for Equality and Diversity and the Athletic Director’s supervisor, in consultation with the Human Resources Department and the Associate Vice President for Equality and Diversity, as necessary, shall determine the appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
Complaints, reports and information relating to possible violations of this policy shall be handled as confidentially as possible without jeopardizing the enforcement of the policy, and the ability to conduct a fair investigation, or the safety of Student-Athletes and other persons connected with the athletics program. Information received in connection with a suspected violation of the policy shall be disseminated only on a “need to know” basis; that is, only when necessary to ensure compliance with the policy and/or to ensure the safety of Student-Athletes or others who come in contact with the athletics program.
Any retaliation for reporting a violation of this policy, or for participating in good faith in any investigation of a violation of this policy, is strictly prohibited. Any persons taking retaliatory action in violation of this policy shall themselves be subject to discipline, up to and including termination.
AT-WILL EMPLOYMENT NOT AFFECTED
Notwithstanding anything to the contrary stated in this policy, nothing herein is intended to alter the at-will status of any Professional Staff Member. Drexel University at all times retains the right to terminate any Professional Staff Member at any time for any lawful reason, or for no reason at all.