Preventing Sexual Violence on College Campuses: An Investigation of Current Practices of Conducting Background Checks on Student-Athletes
Instances of sexual violence against women on college campuses is a major concern for university administrators. One approach to reducing instances of sexual violence on college campuses has been conducting background checks with more focused attention on student-athletes, though this approach is not without risk. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate current practices of conducting background checks on student-athletes, and to present risk management strategies to reducing sexual violence on campus. Through a systematic data collection approach that included Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests of NCAA Division I public institutions, we found the implementation of background checks for student-athletes is a widely accepted practice, where policies were mandated by the athletic conference, state administrative law, or within the university. Recommendations for addressing sexual violence on campus include comprehensive sexual violence prevention education for students and student-athletes, including bystander intervention training. Additionally, if schools opt to utilize background checks, policies and procedures must be created to ensure due process, consistency for admissions, and staff training.