DESTIN, Fla. (AP) — Florida is using Baylor’s troubles to remind its coaches how to deal with sexual assault/harassment allegations.
Athletic director Jeremy Foley sent an email to his coaches Thursday that included a link to the Pepper Hamilton report that stated Baylor’s leadership, including football coaches and staff, inappropriately handled allegations of sexual violence made by students, some against football players. Two players have been convicted of rape. Several Baylor leaders, including football coach Art Briles, lost their jobs as a result of their response to sexual assault allegations.
Foley wrote that the key takeaways for the Gators “are things that we emphasize all the time.” He reminded his staff to avoid these missteps:
— Not reporting allegations of sexual assault or harassment. If a student reports to you, you must inform (executive associated athletic director) Lynda Tealer or (senior associated athletic director) Keith Carodine. They will ensure that the report makes it to the appropriate individuals on campus. If you hear about a potential issue, you have to report. You are not permitted to keep that information in confidence.
— Coaching staff conducting their own investigations. There are specialists on campus in charge of looking into allegations of misconduct. Contacting those making claims of sexual assault/harassment, their parents, or trying to gather facts on your own is not permitted.
— Interfering in the university discipline process. The student-conduct process is facilitated by professionals. Students are also permitted to have counsel/advisors. Coaches cannot serve in those roles. We need to continue to allow the process to proceed as it does for all students without involvement by (University Athletic Association) staff.
University of Florida President Dr. Kent Fuchs said Friday at the Southeastern Conference’s annual spring meetings that the Baylor situation is “an opportunity to learn from what they do. It’s an education process for all of us.”
Fuchs said students are going to make mistakes, but campus leaders have little, if any, room for errors.
“I pay most attention to those in position of authority,” Fuchs said. “What we have to make sure is that when a student makes a mistake we as administrators, managers, coaches, those in responsibility, respond appropriately. That’s what I think a lot about.
“Because it’s a university every year we have new people in campus. But what’s consistent is those who work there and they have a responsibility to educate the new students and when students make mistakes respond as they should.”
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