SPOKANE, Wash. — Student leaders at Washington State University are asking administrators to adopt a policy that prevents the recruitment of any athlete who has been convicted of a sex-related crime.
They sent the request in a letter in late June to WSU President Kirk Schulz and Director of Athletics Bill Moos.
“This is part of a larger effort to talk about sexual assault on college campuses,” Jordon Frost, the student body president, said Wednesday in a telephone interview from Pullman, where Washington State is located.
Frost signed the letter along with Shane Reynolds, the graduate and professional student association president, and Abu Kamara, the student-athlete advisory committee president and track team member.
The letter urges the university to avoid recruiting athletes “who have pled guilty to or been convicted of dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, sexual harassment, rape, sexual assault, or sexual violence.”
Currently, there is no ban on any person with a history of sex crimes being enrolled at WSU.
Bill Stevens, a spokesman for WSU athletics, said this week that Moos was waiting to discuss the matter with Schulz and other administrators before commenting.
Washington State University spokesman Phil Weiler said Tuesday that administrators are in the process of setting up a meeting with the student leaders, an effort that has been slowed by summer vacations.
The issue is complicated, Weiler said.
For instance, the Pacific-12 Conference is studying whether to create a league-wide policy on recruiting athletes convicted of sexual crimes, Weiler said.
At Washington State, any new sexual assault policy would likely involve all students, not just athletes, Weiler said.
“Student-athletes are a high-profile example, but we believe it’s an issue that all students should be aware of,” Weiler said.
But Frost said athletes should be treated differently because sports are such a high-profile part of the university.
“Playing college sports is a huge privilege,” Frost said.
Student-athletes receive a free education, special food and many other advantages, Frost said.
But a person convicted of a sex crime should not receive such advantages, he said.
“We don’t want them to be the representative of the university,” Frost said. “We are taking that privilege away from them.”
The issue is cropping up around the country, and the effort at Washington State was not sparked by any specific incident, Frost said.
In 2015, an offensive lineman at the University of Michigan was dismissed from the team after he pleaded guilty to filming a sexual act with a woman without her consent.
Indiana University recently adopted a policy that bans any prospective athlete who has a history of sexual or domestic violence, a decision that Frost said helped inspire the effort at Washington State.
“We are trying to be an early adopter of this,” Frost said.