On Friday, Sports Illustrated published a report that alleged that women specifically picked by the football staff at Oklahoma State University to host recruits (aka members of the “hostess group,” The Orange Pride) were having sex with those recruits. The authors of the SI piece - George Dohrmann, Thayer Evans and Melissa Segura – wrote:
Hostess programs have been part of college football since the 1960s. Friendly, often attractive students greet recruits, usher them and their parents around campus and promote the virtues of the school. There have long been suspicions about sexual interactions. In 2004 public scandals at Colorado and other schools revealed that sex had been arranged for visiting prospects. Although no formal campus organization was implicated in those cases, several colleges shuttered their hostess programs or rechristened them with less suggestive names. That year the NCAA passed legislation that, in part, prohibited “the use of alcohol, drugs, sex and gambling in recruiting.”
It’s that last sentence that is causing me trouble.
I’m writing a larger piece right now for the Atlantic about the culture around sports and football in particular that treats women in a particular way (say, as rewards for choosing a certain school instead of as, you know, human beings).
In my due diligence to understand exactly how recruiting works, I thought I’d read the actual rules around recruiting and sex as laid out by the NCAA. And silly me figured those would be easy to find online.
STEP 1: I downloaded the .pdf of the 2013 – 2014 NCAA Division I Manual (here’s a link to that .pdf)
- Searched the manual for “sex.” Came up with one result: “2.6 the Principle of nondiscrimination. [*] The Association shall promote an atmosphere of respect for and sensitivity to the dignity of every person. It is the policy of the Association to refrain from discrimination with respect to its governance policies, educational programs, activities and employment policies, including on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, national origin, race, religion, creed or sexual orientation. It is the responsibility of each member institution to determine independently its own policy regarding nondiscrimination. (Adopted: 1/16/93, Revised: 1/16/00)”
- NOT IT.
- Read most of Article 13, which is titled “Recruiting” (starts on page 89 of the .pdf, though internally to the document it’s page 75). It is 60 pages long. Can’t find what I’m looking for.
STEP 2: I googled the phrase: “use of alcohol, drugs, sex and gambling in recruiting.”
- Mainly you get hits from people quoting the SI story.
- You also get individual athletic departments who list it as something prohibited in their recruiting process (here’s the University of Texas’ student-host compliance form. Note that the section were it prohibits “alcohol, drugs, sex and gambling” is not actually under the section labeled “NCAA Rules.”)
- And then you get this AP story from 2004: “Among…issues that must be addressed in [each college's written recruiting policy] are: A prohibition of underage drinking, sex, drug use, gambling or gaming activities and the use of strippers during campus visits.”
I still wasn’t convinced. This is just an article, not an official NCAA document that lays out these guidelines prohibiting sex as part of the recruiting process.
STEP 3: I emailed the three authors of the SI report and asked them for the source of the quote. I haven’t yet heard back.
STEP 4: I wrote to an expert on NCAA bylaws and rules, and he told me: “The bylaw in question is Bylaw 13.6.1, which requires institutions to have a policy for official visits. Those policies always address the use of sexual entertainment in recruiting. The proposal which created the rule is Proposal 2004-92.”
In response I asked, “Is it the proposal that forces those policies to always include sexual entertainment? Where can I see the actual rule that says that?”
He wrote me back “Here is the bylaw: https://web1.ncaa.org/LSDBi/exec/bylawSearch?bylawSearchSubmit=Get%20Selected%20Items&multiple=17308&division=1&adopted=0”
That bylaw says (which you’ll notice is in the section I already read):
An institution must have written departmental policies related to official visits that apply to prospective student-athletes, student hosts, coaches and other athletics administrators that are approved by the institution’s president or chancellor and kept on file at the institution and conference office. The institution is responsible for the development and enforcement of appropriate policies and penalties regarding specified areas, as identified by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors. The institution shall have an outside entity (e.g., conference office) evaluate its policies related to official visits once every four years. The institution may be held accountable through the NCAA enforcement program for activities that clearly demonstrate a disregard for its stated policies. (Adopted: 8/5/04, Revised: 3/8/06)
Ok. Still no official language on the prohibition of sex.
STEP 5: my friend found this press release from a law firm from 2004. But it doesn’t even have the word “sex” or “sexual” in it. Again, vague wording.
STEP 6: I called the NCAA offices and was put through to their media department. Who directed me to their website and the media contact form. Which I filled out.
STEP 7: I filled out the media contact form AGAIN the next day since no one from the NCAA had gotten back to me.
STEP 8: Called John Bianco, Associate Athletics Director for Media Relations (Football) at the University of Texas. Got voicemail. Left message asking about how UT knows what to write in its written recruiting policy. Did not hear back from Bianco.
STEP 8: Asked Twitter
- Angus (@studentactivism) got me the closest I’ve gotten to official NCAA documentation. A July 20, 2004 press release from the NCAA said: “Member institutions must develop written policies for official recruiting visits to be approved by the president or chancellor. The policies would apply to prospective student-athletes, student hosts, coaches and other athletics administrators. Among other things, the policies must prohibit the use of alcohol, drugs, sex and gambling in recruiting. Colleges and universities must submit their official and unofficial visit policies to their conference offices by December 1, 2004.” There was another press release on August 5, 2004 but it was less specific. One mention of sex said, “NCAA President Myles Brand stressed that the use of alcohol, sex and other inappropriate or illegal behavior in recruiting will not be tolerated, and he noted the speed with which the Association acted to address these abuses.”
- And @agorist pointed me to the Legislative Services Database that the NCAA expert used when he sent me the link to the bylaw (STEP 4). That time I decided to search “sex” and “sexual” in that database. I went to “Division I Proposal Search” and “Legislation.” Only “sexual” returns anything and it is, again, the non-discrimination clause.
STEP 9: NCAA EMAILED ME! And told me what the NCAA expert did back in step 4:
Thank you for your inquiry. I am forwarding you the NCAA rule that states schools need to have documented policies in place that address recruiting visits. This rule was adopted in 2004 and the rationale behind the decision by the membership is copied below the NCAA rule.
For what policies individual schools and/or conferences have in place, I recommend you contact those directly for feedback on their specific policies.
13.6.1 Institutional Policies.
An institution must have written departmental policies related to official visits that apply to prospective student-athletes, student hosts, coaches and other athletics administrators that are approved by the institution’s president or chancellor and kept on file at the institution and conference office. The institution is responsible for the development and enforcement of appropriate policies and penalties regarding specified areas, as identified by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors. The institution shall have an outside entity (e.g., conference office) evaluate its policies related to official visits once every four years. The institution may be held accountable through the NCAA enforcement program for activities that clearly demonstrate a disregard for its stated policies.
This proposal will ensure the establishment of a set of principles and guidelines for the recruiting process with full regard for reasonable and acceptable forms of behavior and promote institutional accountability through a set of internal controls sufficient to monitor compliance. The proposal further recognizes that simply setting national rules regarding recruiting policies is not as effective in changing current behaviors as permitting institutions to adapt such policies to their unique environments along with clear accountability standards, which can include accountability through the Association.
I hope this helps and thank you again.
I wrote him back: “Regarding this part of the bylaw: “the development and enforcement of appropriate policies and penalties regarding specified areas, as identified by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors.” Is there a master list of policies, penalties, and specified areas that the Board of Directors creates/maintains? Where is that list? Can I see it?”
I also asked the NCAA expert from step 4 the same sort of questions. He told me: “That is probably in a memo from the Board of Directors from back in 2004. That is not generally available to the public, but contacting the NCAA media relations might get you it.”
A memo? Wow. Ok.
So here I am. Still totally unsure of how individual athletic programs know to put that wording in their student-host compliance forms and their written recruiting policies. And what happens when they don’t? Is this all worked out between universities and the NCAA internally?
And really, why is it SO HARD to find this language banning sex from part of the recruiting process? Why isn’t it in the Division I Manual? If paragraphs can be dedicated to the place where a recruit is allowed to stay and how long before their visit you can contact them, you’d like “NO SEX IN RECRUITING” could also make it in there.
If you know where to find this magic phrase explicitly stated in NCAA documentation, will you email me? I’ll crown you BFF4LIFE and I’ll take you out for ice cream.
— Joe Uchill (@JoeUchill) September 18, 2013
@scATX (2 of 3) It's the only instance of the phrase in google books. Appears in summary of NCAA recruitment rules.
— Joe Uchill (@JoeUchill) September 18, 2013
@scATX (3 of 3) Mind you, a guidebook on disability compliance might not be the best source for SI to go to.
— Joe Uchill (@JoeUchill) September 18, 2013
And the first link here is great:
— Joe Uchill (@JoeUchill) September 18, 2013
UPDATE (Sept 18 at 2:00pm): NEW EMAIL FROM NCAA that is not helpful (surprise!)
Reminder: this is what I wrote to the NCAA: “Regarding this part of the bylaw: “the development and enforcement of appropriate policies and penalties regarding specified areas, as identified by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors.” Is there a master list of policies, penalties, and specified areas that the Board of Directors creates/maintains? Where is that list? Can I see it?”
And this was the response:
I am forwarding you an educational column that was written by our legislative staff in 2010 to frame the rule and its purpose. This adds to the rationale and provides the intent behind the BOD’s thoughts to have this in place.
Campus Visits (I)
Date Issued: September 14, 2010
Date Published: September 14, 2010
Item Ref: 1
In response to several high profile recruiting incidents that occurred during the 2003-04 academic year, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors created a Task Force on Recruiting to address the application of recruiting standards. The task force was charged with conducting a thorough review of recruiting legislation and practices.
The findings of the Task Force on Recruiting noted that visits to campus are designed to provide a prospective student-athlete the opportunity to evaluate the campus environment in order to assess academic and athletics compatibility. The evaluation allows a prospective student-athlete to make an informed decision about attendance at the institution and participation in the athletics program. Specifically, the task force noted that official and unofficial visits should be used to promote the academic and athletics mission of the institution and ensure integrity in the recruiting process while placing accountability on the institution. The intent of the legislation regarding campus visits is to provide an experience for prospective student-athletes during the recruiting process that is similar to what they can expect if they enrolled as a student-athlete. An institution is expected to provide a reasonable and acceptable environment for campus visits, as opposed to creating an experience that is designed to bring attention to individual prospective student-athletes.
As a result, current legislation adopted in 2004 by the Division I membership in response to the task force findings is intended to prohibit the excesses, entitlement and celebrity associated with campus visits.
Division I institutions should note that the following provisions continue to apply to all campus visits:
1. NCAA Bylaws 13.6.6 and 220.127.116.11 require that lodging and meals provided to a prospective student-athlete during an official visit are comparable to those received by enrolled student-athletes during the regular academic year. Lodging must be standard and may not include any upgrades or special amenities not generally available to guests (e.g., Jacuzzis, suites);
2. Bylaws 18.104.22.168 and 13.7.3 state that during official or unofficial visits, a prospective student-athlete is not permitted to engage in any game-day simulations. Further, an institution may not arrange miscellaneous, personalized recruiting aides including, but not limited to, personalized jerseys and personalized audio/video scoreboard presentations. This provision also prohibits the use of decorative items and special additions to any location the prospective student-athlete will visit (e.g., locker room, hotel room, coach’s office, arena) regardless of whether or not the items include the prospective student-athlete’s name or picture. The areas a prospective student-athlete may visit should be maintained as they would normally appear;
3. Bylaw 13.10.5 states that a prospective student-athlete may not participate in team activities that would make the public or media aware of the prospective student-athlete’s visit to the institution, including but not limited to, wearing game jerseys while observing practice or competition activities, running out of the tunnel with the team, celebratorywalks to/around the stadium/arena, and on-field pregame celebrations. A prospective student-athlete may, however, be present in the locker room prior to or subsequent to competition and may stand on the sidelines during pregame activities prior to being seated in regular seating areas during competition;
4. Bylaw 13.6.1 states that an institution is required to have written policies regarding official visits that apply to student-athletes, student hosts, coaches and other athletics administrators that are approved by the institution’s chancellor/president and kept on file at the institution and conference office. Further, the institution is required to have its written policies evaluated by an outside entity once every four years; and
5. Bylaw 22.214.171.124 states that a student host must be either a current student-athlete or a student designated to provide campus tours or visits to prospective students in general. In this regard, individuals are considered hosts if they are involved in traditional hosting duties such as tasks that require specific interaction with the prospect (e.g., entertaining, escorting, etc.). Individuals who are involved solely in administrative functions (e.g., stuffing envelopes, collecting unofficial visit money, handling complimentary admissions etc.) would not be considered student hosts.
[References: NCAA Division I Bylaws 13.6.1 (institutional policies), 126.96.36.199 (student hosts), 13.6.6 (accommodations on visit), 188.8.131.52 (meals on official visit), 184.108.40.206 (activities during official visit), 13.7.3 (activities during unofficial visit and 13.10.5 (prospective student-athlete's visit)] ]
Notice about Educational Columns: Educational columns and hot topics are intended to assist the membership with the correct application of legislation and/or interpretations by providing clarifications, reminders and examples. They are based on legislation and official and staff interpretations applicable at the time of publication. Therefore, educational columns and hot topics are binding to the extent that the legislation and interpretations on which they are based remain applicable. Educational columns are posted on a regular basis to address a variety of issues and hot topics are posted as necessary in order to address timely issues.
I highlighted the relevant section which revealed absolutely nothing new and totally did not answer my question. Sigh.
I wrote back:
Thank you for your response. But it didn’t actually address my question.
I am trying to find the specific language that bans sex from being part of the recruiting process. Does that exist?
I have read bylaw 13.6.1 many times. I have read all of article 13 many times.
Regarding this part of the bylaw: “the development and enforcement of appropriate policies and penalties regarding specified areas, as identified by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors.” Is there a master list of policies, penalties, and specified areas that the Board of Directors creates/maintains? Where is that list? Can I see it?
We’ll see. Or not. I’m guessing the latter.