Missouri State University

Reacting to Different Levels of Legal Involvement

3.   Examine our policies and practices to determine if we are adequately prepared to react to different levels of legal involvement that a student may encounter, ranging from arrest, to facing criminal charges, to being convicted of a crime.

Conclusions:

With the exception of some recruiting guidelines, the Department of Athletics does not have written policies for responding to different levels of legal involvement that a student-athlete may encounter.  
 
There is a need for greater consistency with respect to sanctions applied in cases involving serious violations. However, coaches need to be given flexibility with respect to addressing lesser violations on an individual basis.
 
When alleged behavior is addressed through the University’s Student Judicial System, student-athletes must be afforded the same rights of privacy as all other students under the Family

Recommendations:

  1. The Department of Athletics should develop written policies regarding expected student-athlete standards of behavior and departmental/team sanctions for student-athlete misconduct. In addition, Department policy should indicate the process that should be followed in situations when a student-athlete breach of standards of conduct also involves violation of local, state, and/or federal laws.  
  2. The Department of Athletics should establish classifications of misconduct that distinguish between serious violations, such as felony offenses and violations of University or Athletic department probation, and other acts of behavior detrimental to the tradition of college athletics at Missouri State.  The Student-Athlete Code of Conduct used by Fresno State University (Appendix D) is suggested as a guide for establishing defined levels of misconduct.  We observe that the policy should be sufficiently flexible to allow the coach to deal with lesser violations on an individual basis.  
  3. The Department of Athletics has an established policy (Appendix E) and procedure for social networking sites.  It is suggested that the current policy be reviewed and revised to include statements regarding acts detrimental to the reputation of college athletics at Missouri State; with the Utah State University Athletics policy (Appendix F) used as a model for establishing such guidelines.  
  4. The Department of Athletics should establish departmental/team sanctions for more serious categories of misconduct. These sanctions should be consistently applied to all sports whether in season or out of season.
  5. During each team’s annual orientation session, an attorney should speak about the criminal justice system, consequences of violating local, state, and federal laws, and the general procedure that follows a person’s arrest for committing a crime.
  6. During each team’s annual orientation session, a representative of Missouri State’s Office of Judicial Programs should review the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities as well as Missouri State’s judicial system. 
  7. The Department of Athletics should establish guidelines of reporting for the various levels of misconduct. This must include clearly defined and acceptable standards of behavior with appropriate disciplinary action to be taken if standards are not met.The Department of Athletics should develop a written procedure whereby a student-athlete could appeal sanctions for inappropriate behavior.