Louisiana State University is well known for its prominent sports department. However, recent investigations of allegations have led to the uncovering of multiple improperly managed sexual misconduct cases.
In 2018 a Title IX investigator came to find that allegations of sexual misconduct against athletes were being kept in house. This action was facilitated by the athletic department’s administrators who, as employees of the university, should have understood that the actions taken were improper.
Since the discovery of this improper management of misconduct in 2018, little seemed to change at the university. This lack of reform prompted USA Today to step in and do an investigation of its own. The findings were greatly disappointing and pointed to an utter lack of conduct training and misconduct management. USA Today found that administrators in charge of LSU’s athletic department commonly acted in ways that promoted a toxic and unsafe work environment in favor of athletic fame. These actions included denial of allegations, dismissal of complaints about inappropriate behavior, and the refusal of protection for victims. As a result, countless individuals were left to be further harassed by their perpetrators.
The covering and dismissal of abuse and assault allegations within this department have existed for years and many individuals have come forward to discuss their experiences. Some cases in particular even have multiple witnesses, yet the department denies many of these claims. The current LSU president even commented on this matter by simply stating that he “really wasn’t aware” of the improper conduct within the athletic department.
The USA Today investigation uncovered the possibility that LSU’s poor management of misconduct cases stems from their choice of Title IX officials. Title IX is a federal law in which certain individuals are trained to properly manage cases of sex discrimination in education, including the athletic department of educational facilities. This law and LSU’s own policies mandate that all accusations of sexual assault and violence are reported to trained Title IX officials for immediate investigation. The problem at LSU is a conflict of interest, considering the fact that the Title IX officials being reported to were also athletic officials. As members of the athletic department, the interests of these individuals are suspected to place the needs of athletes above the needs of individuals who may have been assaulted by athletes.
It seems that athletic officials were encouraged to report allegations to department members who were known to ignore allegations. When this was brought to the university’s attention, they were still unable to provide any evidence that necessary action is being taken to ensure future cases will not be carelessly dismissed. The only notable action being taken by the university is its hiring of an outside law firm for $100,000 to review cases and prove that no wrong was done by the athletic department.
Individuals in every professional environment, including universities, have a right to exist without the concern of harm from peers. Laws like Title IX and university standards are put in place to ensure this safety and to hold perpetrators accountable, which is why LSU’s poor management of multiple cases over many years is so concerning. At First Response, we believe in the power of educating all employees about proper conduct and reporting procedures to prevent cases such as this. If the Title IX rules, system, and investigations were more clearly enforced this university could make a change for the better. A change that would put the wellbeing and safety of students before the interests of sports teams.