Varsity College Athlete Serious Misconduct Assessment Policy - Northern Michigan University
Varsity College Athlete Serious Misconduct Assessment Policy
Please direct all inquiries regarding this Policy and Procedure to the Assistant Director of Athletics for Compliance. The University provides forms to help varsity college athletes remain in compliance with NCAA regulations. The relevant forms, titled “Varsity College Athlete Serious Misconduct Questionnaire” and “Transfer Student-Athlete Serious Misconduct Confirmation” are at www.nmuwildcats.com.
This policy requires Northern Michigan University to develop procedures that meet or exceed NCAA requirements governing campus sexual violence. The NCAA requires schools to ask students about their conduct that resulted in a criminal conviction or a Title IX proceeding. This policy does not supersede NMU’s other policies and procedures regarding sexual or other misconduct committed by a student.
This policy applies to potential and current varsity college athletes and the faculty and staff who facilitate varsity athletics.
The Northern Michigan University Intercollegiate Athletics Department will provide guidance for varsity college athletes, coaches, and staff regarding the disclosure of serious misconduct prior to allowing the athlete to practice or play. The guidance, as well as the distribution of any required forms, will be consistent with NCAA rules as well as the laws of the State of Michigan.
This procedure meets or exceeds NCAA requirements for Campus Sexual Violence.
The NCAA requires all athletes - incoming, continuing, and transfer - to complete an annual disclosure related to serious misconduct. NMU has developed this procedure to comply with these requirements. This procedure applies to all varsity college sports, including, but not limited to, NCAA sports, Greco-Roman wrestling, Weightlifting, eSports and Alpine Skiing.
Incoming / Prospective Athletes
When a prospective athlete (PA) sends back their Tender of Financial Assistance, the Department of Athletics will send the PA the “Varsity College Athlete Serious Misconduct Questionnaire.” Additionally, if a PA is added to a roster with no financial aid, the Department of Athletics will send the PA the questionnaire at the time the PA is added to the roster.
PA’s are currently tracked by the Department of Athletics and the tracking document will also track the sending and receipt of the questionnaire and relevant transfer forms.
Additional Procedure for Transfer Student-Athletes
If the PA has indicated on the “Varsity College Athlete Serious Misconduct Questionnaire” that they have attended another university, college, or community college for college credit, the student will be sent the “Transfer Student-Athlete Serious Misconduct Confirmation” form. This process may also be initiated when the PA has submitted transfer credits to the NMU Registrar’s office.
The form, developed to respond to NCAA regulations, requires the PA to send a confirmation letter to the Title IX Coordinator of every school they attended for college credit, collect the completed form, and send it to the NMU Athletic Department. While the onus is on the PA to send the form to every school they attended, collect the completed forms, and send them on to NMU, the form is also typically directly forwarded to NMU from the other school’s Title IX Officer. When the Title IX Officer does not send the form directly to NMU, the Athletics Department will verify the form has been completed by the school, and not the athlete. While this process is not ideal, it is hoped that the NCAA will soon respond by allowing the information to be relayed in the NCAA transfer portal, thereby eliminating the extra verification steps.)
The Department of Athletics will send all returning student-athletes the serious misconduct questionnaire when rosters are confirmed for the ensuing academic year. This is typically around July 1 as it is dependent on the NCAA opening the year in the Compliance Assistant internet. When the Title IX office reviews the questionnaires they will also include a review of NMU’s Title IX files for returning athletes.
Process for Review of Questionnaire
When the signed forms are received by the Department of Athletics they will be saved in a “completed forms - ready for Title IX to review” folder for the Title IX Office to review. For transfer students all forms will be combined into one file.
The Title IX Coordinator moves student forms to either “Approved by Title IX” folder or into a “Reviewed by Title IX - need further review” folder. PAs noted as “approved” or “reviewed by Title IX - need further review” are then eligible to practice (contingent on all other eligibility requirements being met). Those who are under review are only approved for practice with a temporary 14-day certification.
Those who are approved because no serious misconduct is identified will be eligible for practice and competition. Those who have not completed the forms will not be eligible for practice nor competition. Those who have completed the forms and are currently under review by either the Title IX office or the committee will be eligible to practice, but not compete, for up to 14 days. If after 14 days the process is not complete the athlete will be removed from practice until the process is complete.
For those “Reviewed by Title IX - need further review,” NMU gives the varsity student athlete an opportunity to meet with Title IX to provide additional information. In addition, the Title IX office collects the information forwarded from transfer schools. To notify the athlete of this process, the athlete receives the following email:
Subject: Notice of Review - Practice eligibility
Dear Student Name,
The NCAA requires schools to collect information about serious misconduct from potential varsity athletes. Based on the information you provided on the “Varsity College Athlete - Serious Misconduct Questionnaire,” NMU wants to give you an opportunity to provide more context in a private, confidential setting. If you wish to provide more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
No later than 14 days from the date of this notice, all the information that NMU collects will be reviewed by a panel to determine your eligibility to practice and play for NMU. Based on the information you provide, plus any additional information provided by schools you attended, the panel will determine your eligibility status for NMU. The time period is set at 14 days so that, no matter the outcome, your eligibility status to play for other teams will not be affected.
The review will be conducted using the following process: First, your questionnaire form and any supporting information received was modified to remove personally identifying information, including your name, your hometown, your sport, and any race or protected status information. This is removed so that the review may be performed with less unconscious bias. The panel will review the information and make a determination. Until the panel makes a determination, your coach will know that you are ineligible to practice, but will not know any details of the review.
5. Once all information has been received and the student athlete has had the opportunity to contact the Title IX office, the process is as follows: When all information is received, including the “Varsity College Athlete Serious Misconduct Questionnaire” and any required verification from other schools via the “Transfer Student-Athlete Serious Misconduct Confirmation” form, the Title IX Coordinator removes all identifying information and sends it to the review committee. This means that the name of the PA, hometown, the sport, and any other gender/race/protected status information is removed so that the review may be performed with less unconscious bias. The review committee will include the following:
- Dean of Students Office (DOS) designee
- Title IX designee (who did not prepare the file)
- Police Department designee
- Housing and Residence Life designee
- Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR)
6. The review committee determines if the student will be allowed to participate in athletics. If the committee determines that the PA may participate, no notification by the DOS to the PA is necessary. The forms are moved to the “approved” folder and the Department of Athletics continues their regular processes. Those who have been reviewed by the committee and deemed eligible by the committee to participate in varsity athletics will be eligible for practice and competition.
7. If the PA is found ineligible, the DOS/conduct office will send the following email (or if the email is returned, paper mail) to the PA to notify them of the decision:
Subject: Notice of Outcome
Dear Student Name,
The NCAA requires schools to collect information about serious misconduct from potential varsity athletes. An NMU panel has completed their review of the information you provided on the “Varsity College Athlete - Serious Misconduct Questionnaire.” Based on the information you provided, plus any additional information provided by you or from schools you attended, the panel has determined that you will not be allowed to participate in the current season of NMU Varsity Athletics.
The review was conducted using the following process: First, your questionnaire form and any supporting information received was modified to remove personally identifying information, including your name, your hometown, your sport, and any race or protected status information. This was done so that the review could be performed with less unconscious bias. Then the modified form and support was provided to a review panel to determine your eligibility. The review panel consists of:
Dean of Students Office designee
Title IX Office designee
Police Department designee
Housing and Residence Life designee
Faculty Athletics Representative
Note that your ability to participate in varsity athletics does not necessarily alter your admission status, although it may change your financial aid eligibility.
Appeals are allowed and will be addressed according to NMU’s Complaint/Grievance process. You may file an appeal by sending an email to the TitleIX Coordinator at email@example.com. Appeals must be received within seven (7) business days of receiving this Notice of Outcome. Appeals must indicate the reason(s) for the appeal with detailed information to support the reason(s) for appeal. Successful appeals generally provide new facts that could significantly alter the outcome.
Once a request for appeal has been received, the Provost for Academic Affairs or designee serves as the appeal officer and has twenty-one (21) business days from receipt from the Title IX Coordinator to make and communicate a determination. The timeline may be extended for cause; you will be notified if extension occurs. If it is determined that there are material new facts that could have significantly altered the outcome, the case will be sent back to the review committee to determine the appropriate next steps, which may include further investigation. All decisions made by the Provost for Academic Affairs or designee are final.
SIGN-OFF NAME and CONTACT INFORMATION
8. As the Notice of Outcome letter states, the PA may appeal the decision in a process consistent with NMU’s Complaint and Grievance process for students. Note that this process is attached to the University’s policy addressing sexual misconduct. While the serious misconduct identified by the varsity college athlete may not be sexual misconduct, to remain consistent, the University will follow the same appeal process.
9. If a student is found to have not disclosed all relevant information, or disclosed inaccurate information on the form, the review committee will review the student file to determine their participation status.
10. The committee decision for ineligible PAs is relayed to the Athletic Department by the Title IX Coordinator and the supporting forms are moved to the “ineligible” folder.
Important Additional Department of Athletics Requirements
If at any point a Department of Athletics staff member (e.g., coach, athletic trainer, temporary labor employee, etc.) becomes aware of allegations and/or report of sexual misconduct, they will follow NMU’s Title IX Policy and procedure. Details are available in the Title IX training materials, but in all cases it will be immediately reported directly to the Title IX Coordinator without disclosing to any other campus staff.
If at any point a Department of Athletics staff member becomes aware of something concerning that is not sexual misconduct, they will report it immediately to the Director of Athletics, pursuant to Department of Athletics procedures.
Additional Items to Note
The Tender of Financial Assistance includes a stipulation that athletics financial aid is contingent on the student-athlete being approved for athletics participation via the serious misconduct review process.
Note that a waiver is now included in the athlete historical information form that says that if another institution asks NMU for conduct information about a student-athlete, NMU is authorized to disclose relevant information. The Dean of Students Office, Title IX, and the Police Department will coordinate responses to requests received from other institutions. An attestation to acknowledge the PA’s understanding of this waiver is also included in the “Varsity College Athlete Serious Misconduct Questionnaire.”
The Department of Athletics will ensure that the serious misconduct process is followed as a part of the certification of athletes.
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