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Archive for Wednesday, October 18, 2000

Setting an example

October 18, 2000

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A team's behavior off the field can be just as important as the plays on the field and KU athletic officials are right to seriously address the issue of violence against women.

On or off the football field, it's good for a coach to be able to learn something new.

On the football field in Columbia, Mo., Saturday, it looked as if the Jayhawk football squad may have learned a few new tricks as they beat the rival Tigers, in their first conference win away from home since Terry Allen took over as coach. But earlier in the week, Allen also acknowledged he had learned an important lesson from the controversy surrounding his handling of a report that two of his players had sexually assaulted a Kansas University soccer player.

A report on the matter issued by Barbara Ballard, associate vice chancellor for student affairs, criticized the handling of the incident by Allen and athletics department officials. The report also made 12 recommendations to prevent other incidents and set policy for dealing with any reports that may be made in the future.

The female soccer player involved in the incident initially reported the alleged assault to Allen but later went to police after she learned the players had been punished only by being made to run extra sprints at practice.

Allen said last week that a number of the policies outlined in Ballard's report already had been implemented. Athletes in all sports have received additional counseling and education this year from experts on violence against women.

This is a wonderful opportunity for the KU Athletics Department to set a good example not only for its student athletes but for the entire student body. It certainly is safe to say that KU athletes are not the only student group that could benefit by having additional education and consciousness-raising when it comes to sexual harassment and violence against women. Cases of assault or harassment tend to draw more attention when an athlete is involved, but such cases certainly aren't exclusive to student athletes.

It's great Allen and other Athletics Department officials are taking Ballard's report seriously and taking quick action to get new policies in place. It probably wouldn't hurt some other KU departments and student groups to increase their awareness of sexual violence and set new policies to prevent it.

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