University of Maryland, Baltimore County, failed to protect student athletes from swim coach’s abuse, Justice Department says

University of Maryland, Baltimore County, failed to protect student athletes from swim coach’s abuse, Justice Department says - Education - News

Title IX Investigation: University of Maryland, Baltimore County Failed to Protect Student-athletes from Sexual Harassment and Discrimination

The United States Department of Justice conducted an investigation into the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) regarding sexual harassment and discrimination against student-athletes. The findings revealed that a former head swimming and diving coach, Chad Cradock, sexually harassed male athletes and discriminated against female athletes, and the university failed to take adequate measures to address these issues.

Former Coach Sexually Harassed Male Athletes, Discriminated Against Female Athletes

The investigation discovered that numerous male student-athletes were subjected to sexual abuse and assault by the former head coach between 2015 and 2020. The university was aware of allegations that these student-athletes experienced a hostile environment based on sex but did not respond adequately.

Inadequate Response from University

The university failed to properly respond to allegations that the former head coach filmed students while showering and sexually touched male student-athletes at the university’s aquatic center. The investigation also uncovered that from 2016 through 2020, the Athletics Department did not report several incidents of dating violence by male student-athletes against female teammates.

University President’s Statement

UMBC President Valerie Sheares Ashby called the findings “deeply troubling.” The university has committed to addressing the shortcomings and rebuilding community trust. The former head coach, Chad Cradock, was placed on leave in October 2020 and died by suicide in March 2021.

Remedies to Address Sexual Misconduct

The Department of Justice instructs the university to implement remedies such as more training for coaching staff and a new reporting structure for sexual misconduct. Under a proposed settlement agreement, UMBC agrees to be more prompt in investigating reports of Title IX violations.

What is Title IX?

Title IX is a part of the Higher Education Act of 1972. It aims to ensure students have equal access to opportunities regardless of their sex.

Ongoing Lawsuit Against UMBC

A federal lawsuit was filed last year in Baltimore County against University of Maryland, Baltimore County on behalf of former student swimmers is still ongoing.

Description of Sexually Harassing Environment

Many student-athletes reported being subjected to sex discrimination, including unwanted sexual touching and other sexual harassment, which they understood to be a condition for participating in University athletics. Male student-athletes faced a perverse choice: either succumb to the Head Coach’s sexual advances or risk losing their scholarships, housing, and team support.

Hypersexualized Environment

Students described a hypersexualized environment where the coach subjected male student-athletes to unwanted sexual touching, inappropriate sexual comments, and other sexual misconduct. Athletics staff and male swimming and diving teammates also made degrading comments about female student-athletes’ bodies, and the head coach asked invasive questions about their sexual relationships.

Coach Demanded Control

Many student-athletes and employees who worked under Cradock reported that he demanded to be at the center of all information about his team. Some believed he had their best interests in mind, while others said he used information against student-athletes to sexually abuse male student-athletes and control team dynamics at the expense of female student-athletes.

University President’s Apology

“To the students who were harmed: I am profoundly sorry,” said Sheares Ashby, the university president. “I encourage anyone who experiences discrimination or sexual misconduct of any kind to report it contact to the Office of Equity and Civil Rights.”

Cooperation from UMBC

The Department of Justice thanked UMBC for its cooperation in the investigation and expressed their intent to work together to implement reforms that bring the University into compliance with Title IX.