A couple of weeks ago, a Wisconsin football recruit – Dominic Cizauskas – was charged with third-degree sexual assault for allegedly raping a woman on campus in December in her dorm room. He was initially arrested in early January (the charges, though, didn’t come until 3 days after Cizauskas played for Mukwonago’s high school basketball team in the WIAA state tournament in Madison – supposedly the timing had nothing to do with the tournament but rather the availability of Cizauskas’ attorney).
Here is how ESPN summarizes what happened in December:
According to a criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court, Cizauskas showed up at the accuser’s dorm room Dec. 14 after exchanging text messages with her. Cizauskas, who the woman said had been drinking, allegedly forced the woman to have non-consensual sex. She told police that she and Cizauskas previously had engaged in consensual sex, most recently in June 2013, but she since had tried to avoid him.
He had verbally committed to Wisconsin though had not yet officially signed a letter of intent. Other outlets note that Cizauskas was on an official campus visit. It’s pretty interesting to me that ESPN does not mention that.
Today Cizauskas waived his right to a preliminary hearing and pled not guilty.
ESPN tells us that “NCAA rules prohibit Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen or any school officials from commenting publicly about unsigned recruits.”
Convenient. I mean, Cizauskas was on campus because of the football program and was staying with a UW linebacker that weekend.
Campus visits are strange things. In the NCAA Division I Manual, the NCAA lays out in detail who can have contact with the recruit and for how long. On paper, it’s rather rigid. But in practice, of course, campus visits and the recruitment process are…a problem when it comes to HOW major schools recruit major players.
In September of last year, I wrote a piece for The Atlantic that is about the issues surrounding recruitment of football players are major Division I schools and sex, sexual assault, and issues of consent:
The NCAA severely restricts what schools can use to lure players to their campus; according to the NCAA Division I Manual, programs cannot give recruits “any financial aid or other benefits,” including cash, clothing, or merchandise. In place of these financial benefits, programs use the recruits’ official 48-hour visit to show them a good time, an implicit promise of what their years on campus will be like if they choose to attend that university. [...]
Benedict and Keteyian argue that leading these young men on with “the promise of an intimate relationship is the sort of thing that can trump sold-out stadiums, state-of-the-art facilities, Nike deals and schedules packed with nationally televised games.” Even though Earps says that no one in college football programs tells hostesses to “lead on” recruits, programs are well aware of how instrumental these women are in helping them land top athletes.
I’m quoting this not to say that this particular instance is one that has to do with hostess programs or a football program making implicit promises that include access to women on campus, but I’ll just say that when I heard that a football recruit had been arrested for raping a woman on the campus of the school he was likely to attend, I assumed it was his official campus visit.
The NCAA draws a hard line saying that coaches and school officials cannot comment on the case because he was a recruit but not yet signed. But, well, the victim was a student on their campus. That the NCAA’s rules trump the campus officials’ ability to speak out against sexual violence is a problem. And if they don’t actually prevent that, Wisconsin appears plenty happy to hide behind that excuse.
And I’m especially bothered with this because part of what I uncovered in my reporting at the Atlantic is that sex is not actually officially off limits as part of recruiting, as the NCAA likes people to imagine it is. There is literally no where that I could locate where a team could be punished for encouraging sex between recruits and people on campus as a means to lure those recruits to their university.
So, to recap: NCAA says NO to school officials addressing violence on their campus because a football recruit was involved but SHRUGS when it comes to making even a half-assed, at-least-on-paper position against schools using sex to recruit players.
The NCAA: what is it good for exactly?