BOSTON — A culture of “sexual entitlement” exists among some Boston University men’s ice hockey players, according to a university report.
The players’ elevated social status as five-time national champions contributed to the culture, the report says.
“On one level, what our work found is something that is common at any big school or college or university that has elite athletic programs and that is that there is a subset of the population for whom the athletes are considered stars and receive adulation and special treatment,” Provost Jean Morrison said. “The question is, is the extent to which it occurs here problematic? And I think the fact that there were two incidents where there were serious allegations of sexual assault, when we did our investigation, we found that there were areas where university oversight should be better.”
University President Robert A. Brown commissioned a task force to review the team after two players were accused of sexual assault in a three-month span this winter. One player pleaded guilty to reduced charges while criminal charges were dropped against the other.
“This culture of sexual entitlement, as evidenced by frequent sexual encounters with women absent an emotional relationship or on-going commitment, can also involve unprotected sex,” the report said. “This culture is actively supported by a small subset of BU’s undergraduate population. The absence of systematic processes for sexual assault prevention training for members of the men’s ice hockey team, and for BU students more broadly, contributes to behaviors that place many University students at risk.”
The committee also found oversight of the team and clear expectations for players’ behavior were lacking.
Coach Jack Parker is a former executive director of athletics. He has since stepped down from the post, one recommendation the report made.
That one-third of BU hockey players are already drafted into the NHL also contributes “to a culture and climate in which players may not be fully engaged in the academic, intellectual and extracurricular activities that are routine for the broader student body,” according to the report.
The committee found many team members were insulated from the campus community and had test scores and grades below university admissions averages. The task force recommended establishing a university sexual assault prevention office and requiring the team to undergo annual sexual assault prevention training.
BU opened a Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Center last week after multiple sexual assaults, hazing and Peeping Tom incidents occurred during the 2011-2012 academic year and the student newspaper made light of rape in its April Fools’ edition.
The ice hockey task force, made of university administrators, professors and trustees, conducted interviews, held public meetings and accepted online comments and written letters before compiling its findings.