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College Sports, Education

When Student-Athletes Are Charged with Crimes: What is Your Policy?

The suspension of a starter on the Oklahoma State University (OSU) men’s basketball team after the young man was charged with multiple felonies highlights the importance of colleges and universities implementing a written policy and procedure concerning student-athlete conduct. OSU issued the suspension after the student-athlete was charged with three counts of rape by instrumentation and one count of sexual battery in connection with an incident that occurred in December in Stillwater, Oklahoma. A sampling of NCAA Division I institutional websites identified several colleges and universities with comprehensive student-athlete conduct policies and procedures. For example, the excellent policy at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) specifies sanctions for felony charges (automatic suspension), felony convictions (“permanently dismissed”) and misdemeanor charges or convictions (“subject to a review process”). However, our research noted too many schools did not possess a written or specific guideline to address instances when student-athletes become entangled in the criminal justice system. Colleges and universities should prepare student-athlete conduct policies that: address criminal charges and convictions; are consistent (at a minimum) with rules for other students; ensure due and fair process; and minimize institutional legal liability.

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About Michael L. Buckner, Esquire

An attorney who provides clients with internal investigation, civil litigation, estate planning and compliance services.

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