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Hockey Task Force Finds Oversight Deficiencies, Culture of Entitlement

Recommends restructuring athletics leadership, normalizing team culture, and sexual assault prevention education

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A six-month assessment by a special task force appointed to examine the culture and climate of the BU men’s ice hockey team has found significant deficiencies in the structures and processes that are designed to provide oversight of the program. These weaknesses, in turn, resulted in the supervision of student-athletes’ conduct falling disproportionately and inappropriately to the coaching staff, whose oversight was also lacking. The task force also found that a culture of sexual entitlement exists among some players, and that this, combined with the absence of sexual assault prevention training and education, led to risky behaviors.

“The task force has looked closely at a great deal of information and data relating to the men’s ice hockey program,” says task force cochair Jean Morrison, University provost and chief academic officer. “There are a number of serious issues that need to be addressed by the University leadership to ensure that we are providing effective oversight of the men’s hockey program.”

The task force was convened by President Robert A. Brown last March in response to criminal charges, including sexual assault, brought against two hockey players. Since then, prosecutors have dropped criminal charges against one of the hockey players and accepted a guilty plea to reduced charges of assault and battery from the other.

“The task force has conducted a thorough assessment, and I have already begun to implement a number of their recommendations,” said Brown, who sent a letter to the BU community about the findings. “We will implement the majority of the recommendations as quickly as possible.”

“One observation I would offer based on the work of the task force,” added Brown, “is that the University hasn’t done enough to establish expectations and support structures for our student-athletes who play elite-level hockey. Too much responsibility has fallen on the coaching staff. We will change that as we implement the recommendations of the task force.”

The 16-member task force comprised faculty and staff members, trustees, and overseers, and was headed by Jonathan Cole, chair of the Academic Affairs Committee of the BU Board of Trustees, and Morrison. Its efforts were complemented by those of Michael Glazier, chair of the collegiate sports practice group in the law firm Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC, who was commissioned by Brown to look into possible violations of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules and regulations. Glazier found no evidence of major NCAA infractions.

The task force gathered information in a variety of ways, including a general call for input from the BU community, open meetings, and comments submitted online and in letters to the task force cochairs. Task force members conducted 34 interviews and met with members of the BU Center for Gender, Sexuality & Activism and the Student-Athlete Advisory Council.

The task force report, as well as Glazier’s investigation, recommended changing the reporting lines in the men’s ice hockey program, so that head coach Jack Parker, who had also been executive director of athletics, would now serve only as head coach and report to athletic director Michael Lynch. According to the report, having the same person serve simultaneously as a head coach and as executive director of athletics has failed to provide clear lines of responsibility and accountability within the athletics department. Parker (SMG’68, Hon.’97) has already stepped down as executive director of athletics; he will now devote all of his time and attention to coaching the men’s hockey team. Other reporting changes have been made to ensure complete and transparent compliance with University and NCAA rules.

The task force also found that the hockey team had exploited a “culture of sexual entitlement,” as evidenced by “frequent sexual encounters with women absent an emotional involvement.” According to the report, “The absence of systematic processes for sexual assault prevention training for members of the men’s ice hockey team, and for BU students more broadly, contributes to behaviors that place many University students at risk.”

In response, the task force recommends the establishment of programs for sexual assault prevention training as well as of an office that provides care and counseling for victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Such an office, the Sexual Assault Response & Prevention Center (SARP), opened last week at 930 Commonwealth Ave. It will provide around-the-clock assistance and counseling to students who have undergone sexual assault or a traumatic incident of any kind, as well as educational programs for prevention of this behavior.

The report also recommends a review of the Student-Athlete Code of Conduct and of individual team rules to ensure that these reflect appropriate standards for behavior on and off the ice. It also suggests that the athletics department develop a plan to ensure that hockey players and all student-athletes are fully integrated into student life—with particular emphasis on housing assignments and participation in community life.

The report concludes that the hockey team’s disciplinary history does not show a pattern that is significantly different from the undergraduate population as a whole, and it finds no evidence that the problems identified are necessarily unique to Boston University.

The task force recommends 14 corrective actions. Among them:

  • Requiring annual sexual assault prevention training for the men’s hockey team.
  • Establishment of an office to develop alcohol and drug prevention programs.
  • Conducting a review of the Student-Athlete Code of Conduct.
  • Instituting a plan by the athletics department to better integrate student-athletes into student life, with particular attention to housing.
  • Conducting a review of admissions standards for hockey players.
  • Eliminating the option for student-athletes to enroll in Metropolitan College.
  • Requiring violations of University policies or local laws to be handled the same way as they are for nonathletes.
  • Making a sports psychologist available to hockey players for confidential emotional support and guidance.
  • Creating a peer and alumni mentoring program to encourage athletes to achieve academic excellence and meet career goals outside of hockey, and to develop healthy interpersonal and sexual relationships.
  • Creating collaborative partnerships with local bars and businesses to implement policies and programs that will help ensure the safety of all students.
31 Comments
Art Jahnke

Art Jahnke can be reached at jahnke@bu.edu.

31 Comments on Hockey Task Force Finds Oversight Deficiencies, Culture of Entitlement

  • clark broden on 09.05.2012 at 2:50 pm

    It seems like the task force has done a good job. More accountability, supervision, education and programs will be instituted to make sure that incidents that brought this about will for the most part not happen again.

    Jack Parker stepping down as Exec. AD was probably a good move so he can concentrate fully on hockey.

    Hockey is one of the few things that unites the campus.

    Hopefully, BU is moving in the right direction.

  • Paul on 09.05.2012 at 4:54 pm

    It was ridiculous that we had hockey players representing BU who are going to be receiving a degree from the MET. They should not be on the team if they can not get into the university. Of course they acted out. Every person kicked off the team in the last 5 years (academic and social reasons) was enrolled and working towards a degree from the MET.

    • CMK on 09.06.2012 at 9:12 am

      It seems obvious that the students were enrolled in MET because they never had any intention of actually finishing a degree, especially if they had already been drafted by the NHL. The MET enrollment remains the most amazing part of this whole story. I’m not sure how students were able to comply with NCAA rules if they were enrolled in MET.

      • MET ALUM on 09.06.2012 at 11:31 am

        MET is an integral part of BU and students receive a BU degree just like everyone else. MET does an excellent job providing part time education to working adults. But I am disappointed the university uses MET as a dumping ground for these athletes who are academically challenged.

      • KMC on 09.06.2012 at 11:34 am

        MET is one of the degree-granting schools at Boston University, so there wouldn’t be any NCAA violation. The classes meet at night and most students in MET classes are adults, so I’d imagine that the task force recommendation is more related to having the hockey players better integrated into the undergraduate population.

    • BOS on 09.06.2012 at 4:44 pm

      Shame that they abused the MET process. remember when I was at BU players would take a MET course maybe because they had the time to take night classes, but full time? That is not what it is designed for. No offense to the adult MET students, but clearly this was being used as a loophole tat should never have existed. We all heard the basket weaving jokes about big time football schools, looks like BU was no better

    • Ally on 09.06.2012 at 6:19 pm

      Paul, I take issue with you blaming the MET. It is a good program that allows someone like me to receive a quality degree when traditional options do not work. For example, I am in the military and cannot just move to Boston. I do agree that student athletes should be a part of the undergraduate population on campus taking classes vs. waiting for their big break.

    • WestCoast on 09.08.2012 at 2:55 am

      I’m a career student with 3 bachelors, law school, and have a few graduate level math classes under my belt and I can say the MET grad program I’m in right now is every bit as challenging as what I’ve encountered elsewhere. I’d invite anyone who thinks otherwise to try and bang out a 700 level CS class in 7 weeks while working full time.

      That said, maybe there is something to the idea that a full time MET student shouldn’t be allowed to represent the school in sports or at least a higher GPA should be required of them. Now where I live, hockey isn’t really a big deal and I basically don’t know anything about it but I would sure be more proud of any sports team that displays good ethics over a team that merely wins their games. The university system doesn’t exist to create good athletes, it exists to create good citizens.

      Plenty of people already think that most male college athletes are a bunch of mindless thugs that have no place at all in a university setting. Requiring a higher degree of academic accomplishment might well filter out some of the trash so to speak.

  • JTM on 09.06.2012 at 7:34 am

    As far as I can tell from the report, the task force couldn’t actually find “a culture that promotes violence against women” or any other problem specific to BU Hockey. But instead of having the courage to admit it, they figured they’d take the opportunity to dump on Jack Parker and recommend a bunch of bureaucratic bandaids that will cost a lot of money, change very little, and mostly just make themselves feel better. If they don’t think there’s a place for college athletics, they should just say so. What a waste of time.

    • Culture on 09.07.2012 at 9:59 am

      That’s because the “culture that promotes violence against women” is not solely relegated to BU or BU ATH. As President Brown himself said: “Issues such as excessive use of alcohol and a sense of sexual entitlement in a subset of students, which were studied and discussed by the Task Force, have plagued college campuses for decades and are strongly coupled to norms that are deeply embedded in our society and extend beyond the boundaries of any one campus. We must work diligently toward providing our students the best possible environment for living and learning in the context of the pressures from society and each other.” It’s an opportunity to remind folks that it’s not just hockey players that have this kind of problem, and we are all responsible for refusing to be apologists and enablers when it comes to mistreatment of another human being. That said, these steps are useful toward integrating what was a fairly sequestered section of athletes into the campus at large, helping downplay any superstar entitlement on their end and special/different treatment on ours. I don’t know what part of that tells you there’s no “place for college athletics.”

  • Sam Stone on 09.06.2012 at 8:12 am

    Six-months invested and the task force concludes that the coaches are responsible for the BU hockey players’ sexual proclivities, criminal and near-criminal behavior, and complete lack of class. And the task force’s “solution” is a special class to teach the BU hockey players that rape is against the law, and both morally and ethically abhorrent. Further, the task force recommends a psychologist be available to “support” these emotionally bereft thugs (vice their victims?).

    Is there anyone in the leadership of BU (or BU athletics) with a pair? Are there any conseratives involved who might understand the concept of “personal responsibility”? Is there anyone willing to “make a decision” and actually take action rather than appoint a task force and simply kick the ball down the field?

    Here’s an idea: Establish a code of conduct independent of the state and federal laws that holds these holligans to a high standard and penalizes them with dismissal if they violate it. If you want to represent BU as a student-athlete, then you have a responsibility to the University, the student body, and alumni
    to maintain an admirable standard of conduct. If you can’t, then you don’t belong here and should be dismissed.

    • Miguel on 09.06.2012 at 9:40 am

      Well said.

    • TLP on 09.06.2012 at 10:08 am

      I agree quite a bit with your statement here. I found this article and what the task force did to be a load of bull. Honestly these are 18-24 year-old young men, there is no need to “baby” them. If they haven’t figured out that sexual assault is wrong by now, they obviously have no place in BU. This isn’t the fault of Jack or really anyone else for not monitoring the athletes well enough, this is simply some stupid young college students who thought they were “all that” (which is generally attitude of most every college student from my experience). These young men need to realize that they have responsibilities to their team and to their school and that by breaking those, they will be punished. Simple enough. No need to create special classes for them, no need to lay the blame on someone else besides the player himself. This article makes me feel like the school was simply looking for a scapegoat.

      Now let me get this straight, when I talk about the hockey players, I mean the ones that have gotten in trouble. I am in no way passing judgement on the rest of the players on the team. I do not know them personally so I have no right to pass judgement on them based on the actions of their teammates.

      Also I don’t know about everyone else but this particular section really, really annoyed me:

      “The task force also found that the hockey team had exploited a ‘culture of sexual entitlement,” as evidenced by “frequent sexual encounters with women absent an emotional involvement.'”

      Honestly? Really? This is what you found out about a couple dozen young college men? Try about 80-90% of all sexual encounters in college by all types of students in the entire world. This is college, BU. If you haven’t realized that this happens a lot more frequently than you seem to think it happens, then obviously you aren’t in touch with how the current college generation acts and that seems to be a serious problem to me, especially if you run the college.

      • Culture on 09.07.2012 at 10:22 am

        So what’s your solution? Cause here’s what I see:

        Kids are stupid, college kids especially, and all of them have terrible attitudes. All of them that you’ve ever met, which is clearly enough to judge all of them everywhere.

        Hockey players are to be held to entirely separate standards because they are different, however we don’t need to treat them differently because they are not different.

        The hockey players who don’t suck in your opinion, because you have personally not met or been affected by them, so you don’t know them, so you can’t judge (because you’ve done such a nice job not generalizing thus far), are exempt from whatever point you had above.

        One of a list of the task force’s findings agrees with basic logic, and that pisses you off because you have made-up stats about just that thing, and how dare they fulfill their job?

        [They propose that we attempt to mitigate the cultural pressures you say BU is stupid for not knowing to begin with by training our athletes that these behaviors are not okay, encouraging them to be the responsible, better people you *say* they should be above.]

        If college kids are so stupid and smug, why don’t you let the University they go to attempt to teach them? If you’re angry because you think that they should already know these things, take it up with their parents, high schools and middle schools, the city/town/country they grew up in, or their genetics, not BU.

        So, what’s your solution? Cause it would seem to be that we all get to hear about young women being raped because personal responsibility magically kicks in the second you go off to college, duh, and college kids are smug and stupid, duh, and they go about sex all wrong, duh, and BU should just quit trying to do anything about it because they’re stupid too. Grade A logic, TLP.

  • Lara on 09.06.2012 at 9:46 am

    This is not just about the role of these hockey players to represent BU. If you are a man – whether on a hockey team or not – you have the responsibility to NOT RAPE or sexually abuse. I think dividing power in the hockey team and establishing a sexual assault crisis center is a great start (I can’t believe we didn’t have a center like this to begin with), but the sentences against these two players should have been carried out and made harsh. A culture of sexual entitlement among male hockey players includes a general campus culture that trivializes rape and sexual abuse against women.

  • Jennifer on 09.06.2012 at 9:46 am

    “Requiring violations of University policies or local laws to be handled the same way as they are for nonathletes.”

    This is disturbing. You’re telling me if Joe Q. College, the non-athlete broke a university policy or law he’d be punished more severely than the guy who can play hockey? *Really*? Gee, I can’t imagine where the sense of entitlement comes from..

    If these kids are fed this BS that because they can play sports there are no repercussions for their actions then of *course* they will continue to push the envelope and it will bleed into their personal relationships, their sex lives, etc.

    Yes, treat them like all the other students! There’s an idea!

  • AP on 09.06.2012 at 9:49 am

    This problem isn’t unique to BU. The problem is that these high-level athletes are treated like hotshot superstars in their high schools, they are courted and recruited by college scouts during the application/admissions process, and they are not expected to display the same academic standards as any other student in high school or in the college application process. When they arrive at college, they get special permissions for skipping class to travel, priority registration to fit classes around their practice and game schedules, special tutoring to ensure they can keep up with their studies, and are allowed to be completely and totally academically subpar to their classmates. Then, they get fancy press photos taken, bios posted in the media, a whole arena of people screaming and fawning over them, and meetings with NHL scouts tempting them with fame and fortune.

    Of course they think the standards that apply to everyone else do not apply to them. Throughout their entire careers, those standards never did. If we stop treating our student athletes like celebrities, they will not behave like celebrities.

  • Paul S. Downing on 09.06.2012 at 10:00 am

    PC BS
    The buck stops at individual responsibility and singular accountability. Holding one person responsible for another individual’s action is disingenuous. Throwing Coach Parker under the bus is repugnant PC appeasement, and a load of BS!
    P.S. Downing

    • gordon on 09.06.2012 at 11:27 am

      good luck to coach parker and players kick butt this season.

  • BU Senior on 09.06.2012 at 12:07 pm

    Obviously, this is a PR stunt — and BU desperately needs a good one. When it comes down to it, there is a lot of telling information here: placing some of these guys in non-degree programs, (clearly a loophole in the letter of NCAA policy and very much NOT in its spirit); the fact that the article admits that these athletes are essentially, academically low-performing “students” who bring in money for the school; they are entitled; the list goes on. I agree with AP; these are not BU-unique issues. BU DOES, however have the unique chance to lead the way in setting some new standards. I hate to say it, but this is a top-down problem; our Deans of Students are all men (ol’ boys club up there on the third floor of 775 Comm Ave.) and when we make such an absurd number of accommodations for all athletes, they are going to, of course, feel entitled. The problem is this: when anyone is sent to a school whose academic standards are much too high for his or her own skill-set, he or she will not feel comfortable/ confident in the realm of academics and will need to find something else to feel good about. These guys did not feel good about the fact that they were surrounded by some brilliant thinkers (and some spoiled rich kids: another issue) and all they could engage with is their sport, is what isolated them into feeling social pressures (think: high school) from their athlete peers. They’re guys, so sexual prowess and “conquests” are important to them already. Duh, the team was a ticking bomb. I think at the very least, BU has set itself up to be a leader in the realm of rape and sexual assault issues on any college campus (athletic-related and otherwise), now we just have to be optimistic that they don’t drop the ball.

  • greg on 09.06.2012 at 1:43 pm

    pre-professional american athletes who feel they’re sexually entitled WHAAAAT?.

  • BOS on 09.06.2012 at 4:48 pm

    Bravo to our current student body. Unlike the student body at Penn State that seems to have buried their head in the sand as to what happened there, our students all seem unified in applauding these efforts. Sure there will be a few diehards that think it’s a witch hunt, etc. but so far every comment I have seen from our students is along the lines of it is about time.

    Student attendance at hockey games is down, despite a recent title and top notch arena. Connect the team back to the student body and maybe the atmosphere and crowds will improve again.

    • two cases on 09.06.2012 at 10:52 pm

      Let me address that deficiency. If you want to see whether there is a systematic problem, you should check the base rate. In this case it is the frequency of assault cases in the relevant population (BU undergraduates, 18-24 year-old males in the US, etc.).

      Apparently the task force did that and found that “the hockey team’s disciplinary history does not show a pattern that is significantly different from the undergraduate population as a whole, and it finds no evidence that the problems identified are necessarily unique to Boston University.” In fact since there is only one case among the hockey players, it is possible that they are better than the undergraduate population. (Obviously there cannot be any hint of tolerance toward any specific case.) Is there a basis to single out hockey players? No.

      By the way, “frequent sexual encounters with women absent an emotional involvement” is a gem. I suggest that every player who has sex with insufficient emotional involvement should be banned from the team for a game.

  • Chuck Turner on 09.06.2012 at 8:46 pm

    This commission didn’t tell us any more than we alreasdy knew. I feel as though they blamed Coach Parker. Many students from Boston University were arrested last academic year. It’s news ONLY because they are atheletes

  • BK on 09.06.2012 at 8:47 pm

    Jack Parker has lost control of the program and should resign.

    • BU Alum on 09.09.2012 at 6:27 pm

      I never thought I would say this, but I agree that Jack Parker should resign. He is ultimately responsible for the hockey program’s wins, losses, and anything else it produces – warts and all. This situation has given BU a black eye – and it hurts the entire BU community – current students, faculty/staff/admin. – and alumni. He has done great things as the coach of the Terriers, but he has clearly stayed past his expiration date.

      He receruited the players who caused this problem. His players have had this sense of entitlement for years. With each generation of players, their actions seem to get worse. He doesn’t seem to be able to control the players, and the actions will only continue to get worse with him at the helm.

      In terms of hockey, there is one very important thing the Task Force missed. College hockey, unlike many other sports, is no longer a sport where a high school senior goes directly to a Division I college. They are offered a scholarship, then required to play 1 to 2 years of Junior hockey (more times than not, 2 years). For two years they are full-time hockey players. Two problems result: First, they enter BU 2-3 years older than all the other freshman. You can see how this could lead to problems when they become Juniors and Seniors and are 6-7 years older than the freshman girls. Second, for the two years they are playing Junior hockey, they are not in school. Thus, they come to BU ill-prepared for the rigors of college academics. This is the biggest problem – the hockey players Jack Parker is recruiting.

      Moreover, he is recruiting players almost exclusively from US Development and the Junior leagues. Many never play for a team they have some kind of attachment to, like their high school team. The Junior team is simply a place for them to build their skills to get to where they want to go in hockey. In other words, they are completely selfish. This attitude becomes ingrained in them throughout their junior careers – and when the get to BU they are still selfish both on an off the ice. They do not care about their education or their fellow students. They only care about hockey.

      Not all, but other schools do this as well, but we aren’t hearing any stories like the ones from BU. Perhaps the other coaches are recruiting the better character players, or they are able to control their players.

      So, Parker brings in Men – not boys (except how they act) – and hides them in MET. This stinks of big-time athletics one would expect at football and basketball “factories.” Certainly not at BU.

      How do you fix this? BU hockey needs to go in a new direction without Parker. There should be new recruiting policies for the new coaching staff going forward. First, a recruit can enroll at BU no more than one academic year after his high school graduation. Second, a recruit can only enroll at BU directly from an academic program, i.e. senior year of high school or a Post-Grad year at a prep school. BU should no longer recruit full-time hockey players – look where it has landed them.

      • BOS on 09.14.2012 at 7:32 pm

        Well said. I have no desire to watch this team play anymore. For years BU was the beast of Hockey East, when BC’s program hit the skids in the 90s. It seems since BC’s revitalization , Parker has cut corners and lowered standards to get pros in.

        And to claim he is clueless to underage drinking on his team, my God coach, the whole BU community knows they drink in T’s pub and have been for years. It could have been stopped at any time since 1995. T’s is is off limits if you re underage, you get caught by a coach there, your gone. Never happened.

  • John turd on 09.07.2012 at 5:41 pm

    It is extremely unfair that MET is associated with this report. Send the hockey players to CGS.

  • Bob on 09.07.2012 at 10:21 pm

    As a student, I am embarrassed. This situation was handled poorly and now as more details emerge, it is evident that president brown and the task force team did not fully declare the seriousness or full details of the situation. By creating a task force team, president brown thought that this situation could be handled internally without anyone outside of BU knowing about the truth, or how big this problem really was.

    Is Jack Parker a legend? Yes, but I think it is time for him to step down, and I think the board needs to reevaluate who is going to lead this school.

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