KU Athletics staffers set to give depositions in Title IX lawsuits brought by former rowers
Current and former University of Kansas Athletics personnel are scheduled to give depositions in the coming weeks in federal Title IX lawsuits brought by two former KU rowers.
The two similar lawsuits, filed in 2016, accuse KU of failing to properly handle the women’s reports of being sexually assaulted on campus by a KU football player. Daisy Tackett and Sarah McClure, in their lawsuits, also accuse rowing coaches of retaliating against them after they reported the assaults.
Jury trials are scheduled for July 2018, in Tackett’s case, and for October 2018, in McClure’s case.
As part of the discovery phase for both lawsuits, four people connected to KU Athletics are scheduled to give depositions between Oct. 5 and Oct. 11 on the KU campus, according to documents filed in the cases in U.S. District Court in Kansas. They are:
• Rob Catloth, who was head rowing coach when the women were on the team. Catloth retired this summer, according to a KU Athletics news release. Catloth had been head coach of Kansas rowing for 22 years, since the program was created in 1995.
• Carrie Cook-Callen, a former assistant rowing coach. She is now head coach, named after Catloth’s retirement.
• Larry Magee, the head team physician for all sports under KU Athletics.
• Debbie Van Saun, formerly KU Athletics’ Senior Woman Administrator. This summer, KU Athletics announced that Van Saun was retiring from full-time work. She now holds the part-time position as assistant to the AD, according to KU Athletics.
Tackett was a freshman in fall 2014 when, after a party, the football player raped her in his apartment at KU’s Jayhawker Towers, according to allegations in her suit. Tackett reported the alleged rape to KU a year later, in October 2015, after hearing another rower had allegedly been assaulted by the same man. Tackett did not file a police report.
A week into McClure’s freshman year, in August 2015, the same football player sexually assaulted McClure in her apartment at Jayhawker Towers, according allegations in her lawsuit. In October 2015, McClure reported the assault to KU and also filed a police report, though the report did not result in criminal charges.
KU’s Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access investigated, found the man responsible — by a preponderance of the evidence — for assaulting both women and banned him from campus in midspring 2016. Tackett withdrew from KU in early 2016, and McClure finished the spring 2016 semester but did not return in the fall.
Title IX is the federal law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in education, including sexual violence.
Earlier this year, Judge Thomas Marten dismissed a significant portion of the lawsuits, specifically the women’s allegations that KU was institutionally liable for their sexual assaults before they occurred.
The women had argued KU should have known there was a heightened risk of sexual assault at Jayhawker Towers apartments, where football players live with less supervision than in residence halls. They also argued that KU required female rowers to go to football games and cheer for the players and encouraged the women to attend off-campus parties with football recruits.
Marten dismissed that claim, saying such “alleged policies” played no role in the victims’ reported assaults, and there’s no allegations they were assaulted at sanctioned events or that KU somehow encouraged misconduct by the football player, named in court documents as “John Doe G.”
McClure’s civil lawsuit was filed under the name Jane Doe 7, but both she and Tackett have publicly shared their names.
KU has previously stated it’s confident the court will agree that the university fulfilled its obligations to both women. University spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, in an email, declined additional comment this week.