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University of Iowa News Release

June 6, 2003

Skorton: UI Will Implement Most Recommendations From Two Committees

University of Iowa President David Skorton today announced that the University will soon implement all but one recommendation made by an ad hoc committee that investigated the university's involvement with the resolution of the criminal case in which a member of the UI men's basketball team, Pierre Pierce, was accused of sexually assaulting another UI student. Pierce later pleaded guilty to a charge of assault causing injury.

In addition, the UI president accepted a set of recommendations from a subcommittee of the UI's Board in Control of Athletics (BICOA). Two of those recommendations already have been implemented: the Student Athlete Welfare Committee of BICOA has been reconstituted; and Mary Curtis, associate athletic director, has been named sexual assault/sexual harassment compliance officer.

"Both committees deserve the thanks of the university and the greater community for taking the time to develop thoughtful recommendations, which will be implemented soon," Skorton said. "As a result, we will have a better system for dealing with sexual assault and violence, not only in athletics, but across the entire university."

Skorton is still considering how to implement the ad hoc committee's recommendation that the university not participate in the resolution of criminal matters involving students, and that the university await the conclusion of criminal charges before deciding what the consequences of the resolution of those charges will be for a student.

"I strongly agree with the recommendation's objective, that the university maintain its ability to pursue its established procedures for disciplining students, including imposing interim sanctions such as suspension, where appropriate. University officials must not run the risk of compromising those procedures by participating in negotiations in criminal cases," Skorton said. "We need to determine how best to implement that goal, and to make sure that university policies continue to be applied in an independent, fair and evenhanded fashion to all students."

In March, when he became president, Skorton changed the reporting relationship between intercollegiate athletics and the central administration. Athletics now reports directly to the president, which is consistent with other Big Ten universities and follows the recommendation of the Knight Commission.

Skorton has also appointed an advisory council to help him oversee athletics. That council will assist him in overseeing implementation of the two sets of recommendations. Members of the athletics advisory council are Skorton; Doug True, vice president for finance and operations; Athletic Director Robert Bowlsby; Jane Meyer, senior associate athletic director; the chair of BICOA, currently professor Nicholas Colangelo; the UI faculty representative to the Big Ten and NCAA, currently Professor Elizabeth Altmaier; Phillip Jones, vice president for student services; Charlotte Westerhaus, director of Affirmative Action and Title IX coordinator; and Mark Schantz, general counsel.

Ad Hoc Committee Recommendations

The ad hoc committee, appointed by Interim President Willard L. "Sandy" Boyd, was charged with investigating the university's role in the resolution of criminal charges in the Pierce case and making recommendations for future handling of similar situations. Members of the ad hoc committee were Margaret Raymond (chair) and John Allen, professors of law; Madgetta Dungy, assistant dean in the College of Medicine; and Phillip Kutzko, professor of mathematics.

Following are the committee's recommendations, which were previously released on April 9, 2003. The full report can be viewed on the web at:

1. Provide further training for employees university-wide so that students are guided to appropriate services in all situations in which sexual assault/violence has been reported.

2. Review coordination and communication among central offices, especially the Office of the Vice President for Student Services and the Office of Affirmative Action; centralize investigation of complaints of sexual assault/violence in the Office of Affirmative Action; affirm the role of the vice president for student services as the sole authority to impose student discipline.

3. The university should not participate in resolution of criminal matters; institute a "firewall" whereby the university awaits resolution of criminal charges before dealing with the consequences within the university environment.

4. Provide information on the likely consequences of a violation of UI policy in the form of published rules and a description of the outcomes of past, similar cases.

5. Separate the administrative liaison and general counsel functions.

6. Supply media training for coaches and all senior athletic department staff.

7. Direct all media commentary to a media spokesperson.

8. Limit involvement of outside parties and strictly maintain confidentiality of the parties involved in all situations in which sexual assault/violence has been reported.

9. Establish a policy and clearly articulated protocol regarding interim suspension of students.

10. Charge the university president to devise a suitable vehicle for obtaining university community input into the protocols indicating the likely disposition of a case of a student convicted of a crime of sexual or other violence.

11. Ensure annual training for staff and students in the athletic department regarding sexual harassment and violence.

BICOA Subcommittee Recommendations

Members of that BICOA subcommittee were Colangelo, Altmaier, Meyer, Charles Lynch, professor of epidemiology; and Pamela Trimpe, curator at the UI Museum of Art.

Following are the subcommittee's recommendations, previously released on Jan. 30, 2002. The full report can be viewed on the web at this address:

1. Write into the Student Athlete Handbook an explicit suspension policy.

2. Be sure that coaches apply appropriate discipline in enforcing relevant rules.

3. Provide all department of athletics personnel (including coaches) with training in making public statements on controversial topics.

4. Ensure that the athletic director or designee reports all violations of university policy by student athletes to appropriate university offices.

5. Develop a list of resources to address major crimes and misconduct and provide continuous training/education in use of these resources.

6. Develop a crisis/event management plan.

7. Identify a member of the athletic senior staff as sexual assault/sexual harassment compliance officer.

8. Reconstitute the Student Athlete Welfare Committee of BICOA.

9. Develop a clear, concise, uniform code of conduct for student athletes.

10. The administrative liaison to athletes should not be in the Office of the General Counsel.

STORY SOURCE: University Relations, 101 Jessup Hall, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1316.

MEDIA CONTACT: Steve Parrott, Writer: Steve Parrott.