Title IX of the Education Amendments is a federal law that prohibits gender discrimination within federally-funded higher education institutions. Upon its enactment in 1972, the law was initially implemented as a mechanism to establish equal opportunities for women in intercollegiate sports. But in recent years, national conversations regarding Title IX unfailingly concern a more pervasive form of gender discrimination in higher education: sexual misconduct. As a consequence of numerous “call to actions,” unrelenting advocacy efforts, national movements, and an alarming rate of lawsuits, the guidelines for adjudicating complaints of sexual misconduct in Pennsylvania colleges and universities today are more clear and immediate than ever.
Being accused - or formally known as a respondent - in a Title IX complaint alleging sexual misconduct is an uphill battle within itself. There's an unshakeable stigma that comes with this label that often warrants premature mistreatment and judgment far before due process is carried out. Being a student-athlete who happens to also be a respondent adds another layer of complexity to a whirlwind of a process. To successfully navigate the Title IX process as a student-athlete respondent, you absolutely need the help of an attorney-advisor. Here's why:
College Athletes Are More Likely to Be Named As Respondents in Complaints
According to an analysis by ESPN television program, Outside the Lines, college athletes are three times more likely than other students to be accused of sexual misconduct at Power 5 conference schools. The data provided that about 6.3 percent of Title IX complaints against students - whether the complaint resulted in a formal investigation or not - involved an athlete as the person accused of wrongdoing. Whether or not the student-athletes were found “responsible” for these accusations were not included in the study.
The findings of this analysis may not be all too surprising given the countless number of high-profile cases of sexual misconduct that have surfaced involving very prominent student-athletes. Nonetheless, this information should compel you to ensure that the adjudication process is as fair as it could possibly be.
You Might Be Suspended Pending an Investigation
In terms of handling criminal charges, Pennsylvania institutions, and other colleges and universities in states across the country, tend to swiftly bring down the hammer. Take a look at the popular case involving three UCLA players who were suspended indefinitely pending the outcome of a shoplifting scandal in China. But the nature of Title IX investigations seems to generate a more unpredictable reaction. In the absence of specific uniform protocol guidelines, third parties like coaches have the discretion to make decisions that can drastically affect your collegiate athletic career. In some ways, the exposure of a student-athlete is solely in the hands of an athletic director, who may or not be motivated by the desire to maintain scandal-free programs.
Some schools have cracked down on this phenomenon by only allowing administrators and deans to determine interim measures while under investigation rather than a coach or athletic director. It's important you understand your school's rules regarding if and when you'll play while under investigation.
You Could Lose Your Scholarship
Because of pressure from lobbyists and advocacy groups, The NCAA is cracking down on student-athletes who are found responsible for sexual misconduct. Its Committee to Combat Sexual Violence has made a pledge to become stricter about barring college-athletes who have been found responsible for sexual misconduct from receiving athletic scholarships.
Are You a Student-Athlete Who's Been Accused of Sexual Misconduct? Contact the Lento Law Firm
The only way to make sure your voice is heard and that your rights are protected in a Title IX investigation in Pennsylvania to retain a student defense attorney. The assistance of an attorney-advisor is invaluable in the Title IX process, especially for respondents. 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.
Pennsylvania 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:
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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.