Most colleges and universities in the state of Mississippi adhere to the federal law known as Title IX. Its primary function since its enactment in 1972 has been to resolve gender-related discrimination issues in higher education. Throughout the years, Title IX has been applied in a wide span of cases - to fix the disparity in opportunities for intercollegiate women athletes to the establishment of rights for pregnant women on campus. But recently, the law is addressed due to a much more pervasive issue: sexual misconduct.
When statistics revealed how rampant sexual assault and harassment had become in higher education, the nation was taken aback. It seemed like every day there was a new story about a student who had fallen victim to a perpetrator and thereafter received little to no retribution despite informing the school of the incident. Many college's lethargic responses to student concerns, as well as impactful movements like “Me Too” and “Time's Up, prompted the federal government's decision to require schools to promptly and fairly adjudicate cases of sexual misconduct. Now, if higher education institutions drop the ball, they're met with the threat of having their federal funding stripped.
When you're accused, or otherwise named as a “respondent” in a Title IX case, you're already in for an uphill battle throughout the Title IX process. But yet another level of complexity is hurled into the process when you are a student-athlete. Allegations will not be taken lightly, and the stigma that accompanies the role of a respondent party will single-handedly turn your college and athletic experience upside down. To successfully navigate the Title IX process as a student-athlete and achieve due process, you absolutely need the help of an attorney-advisor. Here's why:
The Odds Are Against You
You may be surprised to hear that merely being a student-athlete significantly increases your chances of being accused of sexual misconduct. In fact, according to a study conducted by ESPN's “Outside the Lines,” college athletes are three times more likely than their average counterparts to be named as a respondent.
The data in the study revealed that about 6.3% of Title IX complaints alleging sexual misconduct involved an athlete as a person accused of wrongdoing. Whether or not the student-athletes were actually found “responsible” for these accusations were not included in the study.
You Might Be Ineligible to Play
Higher education institutions are big on integrity. That is why when students acquire criminal charges, Mississippi colleges and universities rarely hesitate to bring down the hammer. But the waters are muddied when student-athletes are accused of sexual misconduct.
In the absence of clear and concise guidelines across the board, third parties like coaches and athletic directors are given the discretion to make decisions that can impact your collegiate athletic career. The issue of whether you will play or not will be in the hands of these parties, who may or may not be driven by the desire to maintain a scandal-free program.
Some schools have given coaches and athletic directors less authority by solely allowing administrators and deans to impose interim measures. This is why it's important you understand your school's regulations regarding if and when you'll play while under investigation.
You Could Lose Your Scholarship
Despite training extremely hard to earn an athletic scholarship, this opportunity is contingent upon certain conditions. What many student-athletes learn (the hard way) is that it's actually pretty easy for a scholarship to slip through your fingers.
All it takes is one false accusation. In the past, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was continually under fire for going too easy on college athletes with a history of sexual violence. But the NCAA's response to allegations and determinations are slowly changing, as the association has started cracking down on student-athletes in this predicament by stripping scholarships. With so much at stake, it's in your best interest to get the help of a legal representative.
Contact the Lento Law Firm Today
The only way to make sure your voice is heard and that your rights are protected in a Title IX investigation in Mississippi is to retain a student defense attorney. The assistance of an attorney-advisor is invaluable in the Title IX process, especially for respondents who are student-athletes. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has the skill and expertise to help you effectively navigate the process. For a case evaluation or for more information about his representation, contact him online or give him a call at 888-535-3686 today.
Mississippi colleges and universities where Joseph D. Lento can help as your or your student athlete's Title IX advisor during investigations, hearings, and appeals include, but are not limited to, the following schools:
- Alcorn State University
- Antonelli College Hattiesburg
- Antonelli College Jackson
- Belhaven University
- Blue Cliff College Gulfport
- Blue Mountain College
- Coahoma Community College
- Copiah Lincoln Community College
- Delta State University
- East Central Community College
- East Mississippi Community College
- Hinds Community College
- Holmes Community College
- Itawamba Community College
- ITT Technical Institute Madison
- Jackson State University
- Jones County Junior College
- Meridian Community College
- Miller Motte Technical College Gulfport
- Millsaps College
- Mississippi College
- Mississippi Delta Community College
- Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
- Mississippi State University
- Mississippi University for Women
- Mississippi Valley State University
- Northeast Mississippi Community College
- Northwest Mississippi Community College
- Pearl River Community College
- Rust College
- Southeastern Baptist College
- Southwest Mississippi Community College
- Tougaloo College
- University of Mississippi
- University of Phoenix Jackson Campus
- University of Southern Mississippi
- Virginia College Biloxi
- William Carey University
All students must be extremely mindful when accused of sexual misconduct at their college or university; student athletes in particular, however, can have even more concerns at all stage of Title IX proceedings because the stakes are higher yet – When first contacted by their school's Title IX office, when a sexual misconduct investigation begins, when facing a hearing or an appeal, or when seeking further recourse by filing a Title IX complaint with the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights when necessary. For student athletes in Mississippi who are facing a Title IX case and their families, it is critical to take the necessary precautions as soon as possible, including having an experienced attorney advisor, when accused of sexual misconduct. Unfortunately, many student athletes and their families, not being as familiar what is at stake and also their rights in the process, will mistakenly believe that if they "just explain what happened," everything will work out. Title IX cases can be won, but student athletes and their families must recognize, however, that achieving a favorable in a Title IX case requires a dedicated and intensive approach best handled by a professional who has a track record of successes in the Title IX disciplinary arena.
Fighting passionately for the future of student athletes at colleges and universities throughout the nation for over a decade, Joseph D. Lento knows how important it is to mount the strongest defense because he understands that a student athlete's academic and professional future, in addition to a post-college athletic career, is on the line. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph Lento is a licensed attorney in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted as an attorney pro hac vice in state and federal court if needed when representing clients nationwide, and serves as a Title IX advisor to student athletes facing sexual misconduct investigations and disciplinary cases in Mississippi and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.