JOSEPHINE JOHNSON & EMILY HEMPHILL
Associate Editor & Sports Editor
Starting this academic year, UMW student-athletes will be required to self-report any previous Title IX or criminal convictions related to sexual violence, interpersonal violence and/or other forms of violence. The National Collegiate Athletic Association requires this in their policy on campus sexual violence, but it’s up to the individual universities to create their own disclosure process.
Additionally, as of Sept. 23, the UMW Athletics Department reports to University President Troy Paino rather than Vice President of Student Affairs Juliette Landphair.
“All student-athletes at UMW must complete the Serious Conduct Attestation Form prior to participation each year,” said Director of Athletics Patrick Catullo in an email to The Weekly Ringer. “This is the first year it’s being implemented, following NCAA requirements. Individuals must attest (disclose) if they have been disciplined through a Title IX or sexual misconduct proceeding or criminally convicted, regardless of the degree, and whether the result of a plea or court determination for sexual violence.”
If a student attests that they have pending charges or have been found responsible for any of the specified crimes, the information is shared with Title IX.
“I think it is important that we know this information about convicted athletes so that we can prevent future situations resulting in Title IX cases,” said junior studio art major and member of the UMW swim team Sarah Yowell.
Senior political science and American studies double major Caperton Beirne is one of the captains of the field hockey team and also supports the new policy.
“I think it is important especially because athletes have to travel and share very personal spaces with one another,” she said. “I think it has good intention behind it and I hope it is effective. Obviously some students may not self-report but hopefully some students will because I think it is important for the safety of the UMW athletic community.”
Some students are concerned that the information will be inaccurate because it is self-reported.
“In theory you’d want it to work,” said senior communication and digital studies major Erin Lutz. “You would hope the people would be responsible, but you’re putting the responsibility on those people and most are unlikely to admit they’ve done something terrible because they know the implications that go with that. So, in a perfect world it would be nice if people could own up to what they’ve done. My concern is that people would fib … they would leave stuff out.”
On Sept. 23, the Office of the President released a statement announcing that the UMW Athletics Department would begin to report directly to Paino instead of Landphair. Paino serves on the board of the Coast-to-Coast Athletic Conference and is a member of the NCAA Presidents Council.
“It’s something that’s always been of interest to me professionally speaking, and I was finding over time as I was getting more involved with issues at the national level and at the conference level I was having to meet with the athletic director pretty regularly,” said Paino about UMW Athletics now reporting to him.
Paino also stated the need for more investment in on-campus facilities, particularly athletic buildings, which is a matter that will require close workings with the president’s office. He mentioned that the lack of locker rooms for athletes at the Battleground Athletic Complex is a top priority issue, as well as improving the athletics fields that he will be directly involved in.
This change will also shift some responsibility off of Landphair, Paino said.
“I worried how much was on our Vice President for Student Affairs’s plate,” said Paino. “She has everything from all things student affairs—which includes things like residence halls, student activities, dean of students, campus safety, police—a lot. So just from a management workload, I was concerned with the breadth of responsibility that she had to deal with on campus day to day.”
According to Catullo, this change will not greatly impact the daily operations of the UMW Athletics Department.
“This will further opportunities for us to work strategically on efforts to advance the experience of our prospects, current student-athletes as well as alumni,” said Catullo. “This will not drastically change our day to day structure, but will rather provide additional opportunities for UMW Athletics to be strategic in the areas of student success, as well as recruitment and retention. I look forward to working more closely with Dr. Paino.”
According to Paino, approximately 20% of UMW students are members of varsity sports, making it an important aspect of student recruitment.
Paino was the president of Truman State University from 2010 to 2016, a Division II school, where the athletics department reported to him.
“I’d been contemplating it for a while, almost since I got here to be honest, it’s been something in the back of my mind,” said Paino in regard to the departmental change. “I was accustomed from my previous experience of having athletics reported to me.”
Looking to the future, Paino said that university athletics will be changing over the next decade.
“College athletics is going to look very different over the next five to ten years so we need to think strategically about how we position our athletic department and invest in our athletic department and I just need to be a part of those conversations,” said Paino.