Creating Change in Intercollegiate Athletics: The Sexual Assault Prevention Paradigm for Athletic Departments

Kristy L. McCray, Otterbein University
Sue Sutherland, The Ohio State University
Donna L. Pastore, The Ohio State University


In 2011, the Office for Civil Rights issued a “Dear Colleague Letter” instructing universities to take action regarding sexual assault on college campuses. Specifically, universities must better educate students on the prevention of sexual assault, in the hope of reducing violence against women. Previous research is inconclusive on the involvement of intercollegiate student-athletes in incidences of sexual assault; however, recent high-profile cases of sexual misconduct at universities indicate that student-athletes are not immune to this issue. The purpose of this study was to explore how sexual assault is viewed within the culture of intercollegiate athletics, including education, occurrence, and prevention. Through interviews with former intercollegiate athletes, three main findings emerged: (1) Participant Knowledge, (2) Sexual Assault Within the Context of College Athletics; and (3) Creating Change in Athletic Department Culture. Using grounded theory, these themes were combined to create the Sexual Assault Prevention Paradigm for Athletic Departments.