Joey Spahn
Sports Editor

A male Benedictine coach and female student athlete are allegedly involved in a romantic relationship. This raises questions about the ethical implications of the relationship and what the policies are against it.

Multiple sources have confirmed this relationship to The Candor and have supplied information that supports their allegations. However, the exact nature and duration of this relationship is still unknown and due to this, The Candor will not be naming either party involved.

Even though this relationship is allegedly consensual, the power dynamic and concept of ‘grooming’ is what makes this an issue.

The existence of the power dynamic within the relationship increases the risk of an abuse of power between the coach and student-athlete. This is dangerous because it presents the coach with the opportunity to manipulate and persuade the athlete, this happens because coaches have a higher-ranking authority over their athletes.

“Because of this power differential, any amorous or sexual relationship between coaches and student-athletes constitutes sexual abuse,” the NCAA states in its model policy recommended for member institutions. “In other words, the dynamics of the coach-athlete relationship in intercollegiate sport make any sexual contact between a coach and an athlete abusive, regardless of whether it was wanted by the athlete and regardless of whether the athlete is over the age of consent.”

The Benedictine University Police are currently investigating the matter and could not comment on the situation.

After an examination of the Title IX policy, staff, staff handbook, faculty handbook and student-athlete handbook, The Candor could find no written statements that explicitly states coaches and student-athletes are not allowed to engage in a consensual sexual relationship.

The Title IX policy, along with staff and faculty handbook prohibit sexual abuse. To clarify, sexual abuse and sexual assault are often used interchangeably. The Title IX policy defines sexual assault as, “Any sexual act directed against another person, without consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent.”

“Sexual relationships between coaches and student-athletes have become a serious problem. NCAA member institutions must unambiguously and effectively prohibit such relationships to ensure that sport programs offer a safe and empowering experience for all student-athletes,” says the NCAA’s model policy.

In-season or not, coaches and athletes see each other almost every single day. They are with the athletes for workouts, film, practices, games and sometimes even team bonding. The power dynamic shifts negatively, and not just between the athlete and coach involved, but it can largely affect other athletes on the team as well.

If you notice these traits from someone or have a concern for yourself, there are numerous resources here at Benedictine that can help.

“The University policies speak really clearly about direct reports,” said Benedictine Chief of Police Dave Anderson. “We have Title IX [Tammy Sarver], we have HR, we have supervisors above any staff, faculty and even students. Report it to that direct chain of command, just like any problem, report it out. It could also come right to the police department, and we could be an initiating investigative option or resource.”

*If you or any individual you know is struggling, please contact one of the listed resources below.

Tammy Sarver – Title IX Coordinator: (630) 829-6473
HR anonymous reporting helpline: (866) 326-2747
Benedictine University Police Emergency Line: (630) 829-6666
WYCA Hotline: (630) 971-3927

 

Sophia Mattimiro contributed to this article