A Boston University task force has concluded that the men’s hockey team is detached from the general campus and that a “culture of sexual entitlement” exists among some players, a mindset college officials say contributed to two alleged sexual assaults on campus during the past season.
“Our assessment has shown that a culture of sexual entitlement exists among some players on the men’s ice hockey team, stemming in part from their elevated social status on campus,” stated the 11-page report, which was released today.
University officials said the culture is marked by heavy alcohol use and casual sexual encounters, and called for a range of reforms to tighten oversight of the team and bring it more into the fold of campus life.
“It’s clear we need to do a better job of educating players about sexual assault,” said Jean Morrison, the university’s provost who co-chaired the panel. “They are stars, and they feel they are different.”
University president Robert Brown called for the review of the high-profile program in March after two players were charged with sexual assault in a three-month span, accusations that caused outrage on campus and raised concern that the team was out of control.
One player, Corey Trivino, later pleaded guilty to assault, while rape charges against the second player, Max Nicastro, were dropped. Both players were removed from school.
The report described players’ social and sexual interactions in unusually blunt terms, and flatly acknowledged that the university, from administrators to the coaching staff, has not adequately overseen the team.
“It ran away from us,” Morrison said. “We should have been providing greater oversight and education around their sense of entitlement.”
Supervision of the players too often fell to the coaching staff instead of university administrators, the panel concluded. Coached by Jack Parker, the hockey team perennially ranks among the nation’s best and has won five national championships.
“The coaches became their own keepers,” Morrison said. “These should be university issues.”
Morrison said there was no indication that coaches were hiding student behavior from administrators, but that they routinely handled problems internally.
For example, coaches dealt with players who had been caught drinking on their own, rather than referring them to university specialists, Morrison said.
University officials did not blame the coaching staff for this practice, saying the guidelines were “not sufficiently clear.”
The panel called for Morrison’s office to oversee a review of the athletic department and establish new guidelines for players’ behavior.
While the report was at times critical of Parker and the coaching staff, it did not recommend that they be disciplined. Parker, who was interviewed by the panel, could not be reached for comment.Peter Schworm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.