It doesn't matter who you are: Title IX charges are serious business. The minimum penalty in such cases is typically suspension. The more likely outcome is expulsion. Worse, expulsion often includes a transcript notation about the precise nature of your offense. Try getting into another school with a sexual misconduct dismissal following you around.
College athletes, though—hockey players, for instance—face special challenges when it comes to Title IX. Simply put, athletes tend to be more well-known on campus, and that means they have bigger targets on their backs when it comes to sexual misconduct allegations.
In the Limelight
Athletes make for good headlines. That's true when they're doing something positive, like scoring a goal in the final minute of a rivalry game or helping out with an elementary school literacy program. It's just as true when they're caught doing something wrong. Sexual misconduct makes for particularly good news copy. Sex sells, after all.
Think about it: when was the last time you heard a story on your local news about an average, run-of-the-mill student—a math major, maybe, or someone studying English lit—accused of date rape? They get accused, of course, but no one is usually much interested.
Accused hockey players, on the other hand, like Paul Washe of Western Michigan and Max Nicastro of Boston University, don't just make the local news. They're on ESPN and CNN–at least they are until they're cleared. When charges against Max Nicastro were dropped, you didn't hear about it on ESPN. The story barely made BU's student newspaper.
Being on your school's hockey team comes with privileges. It also comes with risks.
It isn't just that you could wake up tomorrow and find yourself famous across the country and for all the wrong reasons. The thing is, all those salacious headlines that we've been reading for all these years have created an unfair impression of athletes as angry, adrenaline-fueled predators. That means the moment you're accused, you can expect the public to believe it.
There's an even darker side to being in the limelight, though. You aren't just famous to all the hockey fans out there. You're also famous on campus: other students know who you are, even if they don't care anything about hockey. If you're a student looking to make your boyfriend or girlfriend jealous, you tell them you've been sleeping with an athlete. You get caught drinking or using drugs by the campus police, you tell them you're coping with having been abused by an athlete.
It's a vicious cycle: you're more likely to be accused, so you're more likely to show up in the paper, so you're more likely to be accused.
How Do You Protect Yourself?
If you're an athlete, you need to know: you're a target. You're a target for an accusation; you're a target for the media; you're a target for public outcry. Ultimately, you're a target for injustice because you won't be treated like every other respondent.
You don't have to simply accept your fate, though. If you find yourself accused, make sure you have a Title IX attorney on your side, someone who knows the law and who has experience helping athletes get the justice they deserve.
To find out more or to get help with your Title IX case, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.