WSU students want ban on recruitment of athletes with sexual assault convictions

SEATTLE -- One in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college.  That alarming statistics has universities and law enforcement trying to figure out a way to fight back.

In April, Indiana University enacted a policy to ban any athletic program from adding an athlete with a sexual assault or domestic violence conviction.

After that announcement, Washington State University Student Body President Jordan Frost stood by his decision to ask administration to enact a policy: No recruitment of athletes with prior sexual assault convictions.

“We said, what’s important to you? And students said sexual assault over and over and over,” Frost said.

Via FaceTime from Pullman, Frost stood by his decision to ask administration to enact the policy.

“We’re not saying we’re against people getting better, moving on with their lives, but we’re not going to give privileges to those who commit violent acts,” said Frost.

Frost argues playing for the Cougs is a privilege that comes with power, influence and, at times, a free education.

WSU spokesperson Phil Weiler told the Associated Press, "Student-athletes are a high-profile example, but we believe it's an issue that all students should be aware of."

Much of the country became aware of the case of a star Oregon State baseball pitcher who pleaded guilty to first-degree child molestation when he was 15.  Luke Heimlich admitted to abusing a relative starting when she was 4 years old.  The word of his conviction spread as the team was headed to the College World Series.  Many wondered if the coaching staff knew they let a sex offender take the mound.

“Was he {head coach} aware of this when he was recruited to come to Oregon State? I think the general public needs to know that,” said Corvallis Gazette-Times Reporter Bob Lundeberg.

The proposed WSU policy would prevent such a scandal.  The WSU administration says the PAC 12 is considering a league-wide policy on the topic.

“At Washington State, any new sexual assault policy would likely involve all students, not just athletes,” said Weiler.

Frost says this is just the first of many policies he would like to see enacted to protect students on campus.

“Typically, people don’t commit sexual assault once. It’s not like it’s hundreds who are committing sexual assault. It’s oftentimes people who are repeating,” said Frost.

The Southeastern Conference (SEC) began a ban on its colleges accepting transfers of athletes with a history of serious misconduct, which includes sexual assault and domestic violence.

Q13 News contacted the ACLU of Washington, which often supports the civil rights of all people, including people convicted of crimes.  The spokesperson there told me the organization was aware of the policy but did not want to comment at this time.