Right now, survivors can try to hold schools accountable for mishandling assault allegations by filing a lawsuit, or filing a complaint with the Department of Education.
But those options can be deeply flawed, experts agreed. “The system fails the victims and survivors,” Cooky said. “The system fails the overall community in terms of its sense of safety. … The system does not fail, though, in the sense of protecting institutions.”
Experts think there may be a better way.
For Cooky, the most effective solution would be to create an organization separate from the NCAA tasked with overseeing Title IX “writ large.”
Cooky envisions “a kind of law firm-esque kind of an entity that would be resourced and empowered in ways to investigate these matters, to have some sort of legal teeth,” she said.
Cooky would be concerned if it was tied to the Department of Education, because the Title IX standards set by that organization change with each president.
The entity would have to provide “consistency in Title IX guidance that exists outside of an individual administration’s whims.” But Cooky noted: “That’s a pipe dream.”
Involving Capitol Hill
At a Senate hearing in June, athletes asked Congress to help police how schools handle allegations. “We’re underestimating the interest of these coaches in winning games, or the athletic departments in protecting their image,” former Georgetown basketball player Sari Cureton said.
Athletes made it clear this was just as much of a priority as NIL rights, or other gender equity standards.
Darvin also believes the federal government should get involved — by creating a sports administration. “We are in immediate need of a governing body for all amateur sport,” Darvin said. “We need coach certificate standards, standard practices for handling sexual assault allegations, standard punishments, and we need safer play for all.”
“The NCAA is not and has never been the governing body that was going to take on these issues, and the federal government has tiptoed around these issues for far too long.”