Why Minnesota Former Coach Claeys & AD Coyle Have Title IX Culpability: Recruiting Rules Have Changed

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Hidden behind the uproar about the Minnesota football protest, and the alleged September 2 player sexual assaults, are the Title IX culpability of Minnesota head coach Claeys, AD Coyle, and university administration in failing to establish state-of-the-art university recruiting policies and practices which would have prevented the alleged assaults. Based upon the university’s leaked Title IX report, it appears that the school failed to exercise the higher degree of care which they owed to the minor recruit allegedly involved, who was on campus for an official visit that weekend.

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“What you see at a bachelor or bachelorette party is what happens on a recruiting visit,”  former Michigan star Jalen Rose, recruited in the late 1980’s by UNLV, MSU, Michigan and Syracuse, said last year. “And as a 17-year-old kid, if I’m not getting laid, I’m not coming. I’m not signing. Number one, I’m out of the ‘hood, so I’m safe,” Rose said. “Number two, I have access to unlimited funds, because I’m a high school kid who’s not paying for dinners, who’s not paying for anything. And it’s almost like my birthday, because their number one job is to show me a magnificent time — as a matter of fact, the time of my life.”

Now, 25 years after Rose was recruited, the NCAA requires that recruiting ‘host groups’ be composed of female and male members, but whispers persist that females still used to shepherd recruits during visits.”The three things kids mention to me most,” CBS Sports recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said in 2016, are “how many players you’re putting into the NFL, facilities, and girls.”

The New Post-2012 Recruiting Standards —Two Authorized Adults Present

The Minnesota events (and the now-notorious ‘stripper’ parties held by Louisville players, with recruits present) suggest that recruiting hasn’t changed, and that schools allow or encourage sex to be used as a recruiting tool– even though the school’s duty of care to recruits has markedly changed as a result of the Penn State/Sandusky scandals six years ago.

In response to that scandal, and the follow-up 2012 Freeh report, PSU Independent Monitor (and former Senate Majority Leader, and U.S. District Court Judge) George Mitchell’s ‘First Quarterly Integrity Monitor Report,’ dated November 30, 2012, cited with approval Penn State revision of its’ Policy AD 39 (“Minors Involved in University-Sponsored Programs or Programs Held at the University and/or Housed in University Facilities.”), which now requires that:

“at least two authorized Adults … be present during all interactions and activities with minors.”

Authorized Adults – Mandatory Training

And this new standard contains a second new requirement: those two adults must be “authorized,” which the policy defines as:

individuals, age 18 or over, paid or unpaid, who interact with, supervise, chaperone, or otherwise oversee minors in program activities, or recreational, and/or residential facilities. This includes but is not limited to faculty, staff, volunteers, graduate and undergraduate students, interns, employees of temporary employment agencies, and independent contractors/consultants. The authorized adults’ roles may include positions as counselors, chaperones, coaches, instructors, etc.

How Do You Get Adults ‘Authorized’?

Mitchell’s Report describes the required “authorization”:

“Authorized adults’ participating in a program involving minors must attend annual, mandatory training on protecting minors from abusive treatment and on mandated reporting requirements for suspicions of child abuse. The activities of Authorized Adults are carefully restricted.”

His Report also states that the required training for Authorized Adults must include:

“background check guidelines for authorized adults; mandated reporter training obligations; self-disclosure of arrests or convictions; requirements for two or more authorized adults to be present at all times during programs, and guidelines related to communication with and transportation of monitors.”

The policy makes clear that “volunteers” — which would, it appears, include currently-enrolled athletes assigned to chaperone recruits on “official” visits — must be: 1) covered by the policy; 2) required to have both the background check and the appropriate training; and 3) have achieved “Authorized Adult” status.

It also mandates that such an ‘Authorized Adult’:

may not enter a minor’s room, bathroom, or similar area without another Authorized Adult present,” and that “Authorized Adults must stay in separate accommodations.

All Schools Need to Enact and Apply Mitchell’s ‘Two Authorized Adults’ Standard for Recruiting

Because recruited athletes are predominantly minors, schools should now have in place policies like this state-of-the-art Senator Mitchell/PSU ‘Two-Authorized- Adults’ policy to be applied to their ‘university-sponsored’ recruiting programs.

But Minnesota, by all appearances, flunked the Senator Mitchell exam: there is no evidence anywhere that any adult accompanying the minor recruit on his visit came close to being qualified as “authorized.” And, based upon the leaked report, there is no indication that any character on premises, as the events unfolded, showed any reservation about entering the minor’s “room, bathroom, or similar area.”

The common practice at big-time campuses, before the Sandusky scandal, was for the coaching staff to “assign” the responsibility for “hosting” a recruit to one or two existing players, who act as “chaperones” for that recruit. The Mithcell standard should have changed that practice; instead, schools have universally ignored it. College sports ‘programs’ continue to recruit by appealing to what the underage recruit desires, rather than what he needs. Recruiting is a form of grooming, in which the recruit is shown flashy varieties of bling, so that he fails to focus on objective factors (such as the kind and duration of medical coverage for athletes; limitations on weekly hour commitments to the sport; choosing a major; or history of transfer-waiver availability) which should affect his decision-making. Recruiting still too frequently involves the economic molestation of underage players to induce them to sign the contract-for-services which is the National Letter of Intent

The proper application of Senator Mitchell’s ‘Two Authorized Adults’ standard would have helped prevent some or all of the September 2 apparent assaults. Recruiting needs to catch up with the changing times. Minnesota’s sports business leaders flunked the test, and their negligence appears to have directly contributed to the damage which was alleged by the victim. Minnesota’s former coach Claeys, AD Coyle, and other administrators sports leaders should be added to the Title IX complaint, as parties whose failure to comply with an obvious, state-of-the-art standard of care allowed the harm to occur. And all big-time college programs need to sit up and take notice: using girls and sex to recruit minors is illegal, and breaches the in loco parentis duty which governs the school, president, AD, and coach, as refined by PSU and Senator Mitchell.

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About brewonsouthu

Michigan and Big Ten fan, former lawyer, with interest in college sports and NCAA oversight and decisions, and sports generally.
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