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Indiana Sets Trend on Curbing Violence Against Women

Dottie Day/flickr

The word hero might be inappropriate for anyone whose name is associated with the idea of reducing the incidents of violence against women.

But Fred Glass, Indiana University’s athletic director, has made himself, if not heroic, at least admirable with two words: No more.

With the approval of the campus faculty athletics committee, Glass announced that, under his leadership, the university’s teams will not accept athletes who are found guilty of sexual violence.

The policy holds that incoming freshmen, transfer students or students of other status will not play a sport at Indiana if they have been convicted of or pleaded guilty or no contest to a felony involving sexual violence.

The policy defines sexual violence as dating violence, domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or sexual violence as they are defined by the school’s policy on sexual misconduct.

The IU athletic department already had a policy that any athlete facing sexual violence charges is suspended until the matter is resolved.

That plan stays in effect and was enacted earlier this year when a freshman football player was dismissed just a few hours after he was arrested on child molestation charges.

Two years ago, the Southeastern Conference developed a procedure that its member schools could not accept transfers with a history of serious misconduct.

But that plan only keeps SEC schools from taking in problem students from other schools, but says nothing about homegrown problems.

The moves of Indiana and the SEC indicate that someone on the college level is paying more than lip service about limiting the scourge of violence against women among athletes.

Would that one could say the same about the NFL and its leadership, which confirmed its tone deafness during last week’s draft as league officials went for players with track records of violence against women.

For instance, Jacksonville used a fourth-round pick on former Oklahoma wide receiver Dede Westbrook, he of multiple accusations of domestic violence.

Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell noted that the charges have been dropped, but added quote “Obviously it is a serious issue, and we just feel like at this point in time to give the kid a chance to make it right unquote.

And there are the Cleveland Browns, who tapped former Florida defensive lineman Caleb Brantley who was charged with battery after allegedly knocking out a woman at a bar. The woman in question is 5-foot-6 and 120 pounds, Brantley is 6-foot-2 and 307 pounds.

Browns general manager Sashi Brown said the incident is quote very concerning unquote to the club.

Joe Mixon got taken in the second round by the Cincinnati Bengals, the NFL’s home for wayward men. Mixon, you’ll remember, is the Oklahoma running back who was caught on camera slugging a woman in a bar. Mixon settled with the woman for an undisclosed amount the week before the draft.

The Browns, Jaguars and Bengals appeal to the American tradition of forgiveness, on the theory that everyone deserves a second chance.

And while that is correct, Indiana’s approach that a second chance can be earned elsewhere in some other endeavor, seems more right. I dare say female victims of violence would agree.

And that’s how I see it for this week.

Milton Kent hosted the weekly commentary Sports at Large from its creation in 2002 to its finale in July 2013. He has written about sports locally and nationally since 1988, covering the Baltimore Orioles, University of Maryland men's basketball, women's basketball and football, the Washington Wizards, the NBA, men's and women's college basketball and sports media for the Baltimore Sun and AOL Fanhouse. He has covered the World Series, the American and National League Championship Series, the NFL playoffs, the NBA Finals and 17 NCAA men's and women's Final Fours. He currently teaches journalism at Morgan State University.