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Title IX College Coach Lawyers

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National Title IX Defense Attorneys For College Coaches

Defending College Athletic Coaches against Serious Allegations

Coaches at colleges and universities across the country can face allegations of inappropriate conduct under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, yet many athletics coaches do not have a full and complete understanding of their rights and obligations under the federal law. Depending upon the coach’s specific role, a head coach might also be responsible in some capacity for Title IX allegations made against an assistant coach who was under their management. When a coach faces a Title IX investigation, the consequences can be extremely serious. Indeed, even allegations can harm a coach’s reputation at a college or university, and if a coach is found responsible for Title IX violation, the coach ultimately can be suspended or terminated from the job. Once a coach has been terminated as a result of a Title IX investigation, it can be difficult or even impossible to find another position in a college or university athletics department.

Given the potential ramifications of Title IX allegations against an athletics coach, it is critical to have one of our experienced national Title IX defense lawyers assess your case and discuss your options for handling the investigation and outcome.

Types of Title IX Issues Affecting College Athletics Coaches

Title IX specifically states that no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in or be discriminated against within any education program or activities that receive federal funding. The federal law prohibits sex discrimination in colleges and universities, including sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. The law also requires colleges and universities to have Title IX policies in place for handling sexual misconduct allegations.

While Title IX cases can arise under various types of circumstances in colleges and universities, the following are some of the most common reasons for Title IX allegations or complaints involving coaches:

  • Unlawful sex discrimination against an athlete
  • Sex discrimination in student athlete recruitment
  • Discrimination against a pregnant student athlete or a pregnant assistant coach
  • Allegation of a coach sexually harassing an athlete, including making inappropriate comments about the student athlete’s uniform or body
  • Allegation of sexual misconduct of a coach, including sexual assault, which may include inappropriate touching
  • Allegation that a coach covered up sexual misconduct by another coach or a student athlete
  • Failure of coach to comply with other Title IX provisions
  • Retaliation against coaches for raising concerns about Title IX violations within the athletic program

Touching During Practice

Depending upon the sport and the context, some touching by coaches may be necessary during practice. However, unnecessary touching may rise to the level of sexual harassment. Touching during practice typically may lead to a Title IX investigation if the touching is unwelcome or inappropriate, or if it is violent. If a student indicates discomfort with touching during practice, and the touching is unnecessary, any additional touching could constitute sexual harassment and, accordingly, a Title IX violation.

Saying Inappropriate Comments About Uniforms

When a student athlete alleges that a coach has made, or continues to make, inappropriate comments about uniforms or student bodies in uniforms, such comments may constitute sexual harassment and could violate Title IX. When inappropriate comments are so severe or are pervasive, they may constitute sexual harassment and thus could violate a student-athlete’s rights under Title IX.

Sex Discrimination and Harassment By Coaches

As we noted above, a coach touching a student-athlete during practice or making inappropriate comments about a student-athlete’s uniform may constitute sexual harassment, which is a form of sex discrimination. Other examples of sex discrimination and harassment that could result in a Title IX investigation include but are not limited to:

  • Refusing to allow a student-athlete to play after learning of her pregnancy
  • Cutting a pregnant student-athlete from the team because of the pregnancy
  • Making inappropriate comments about a student-athlete’s body
  • Inappropriately touching a student-athlete
  • Making repeated discriminatory comments about student-athletes or other people based on sex
  • Repeatedly making jokes about people of a particular sex
  • Displaying sexually explicit materials in a locker room or other area that athletics employees and student-athletes must use

Sexual Assault

A coach can face allegations of sexual assault under Title IX, but it is important to know that sexual assault allegations also may result in criminal charges.

Sexual Relationships

Sexual relationships between coaches and students are often prohibited by a college or university Title IX policy, or a staff policy manual or handbook might expressly state that such relationships are prohibited and constitute violations of Title IX. While the NCAA’s position does not govern a school’s development of its Title IX policy or a school’s investigation of an alleged Title IX violation, the NCAA says that any sexual relationship between a coach and a student athlete is abusive: “Because of [the] power differential, any amorous or sexual relationship between coaches and student-athletes constitutes sexual abuse.” Indeed, the NCAA says, “the dynamics of the coach-athlete relationship in intercollegiate sport make any sexual contact between a coach and an athlete abusive, regardless of whether it was wanted by the athlete and regardless of whether the athlete is over the age of consent.”

Whether or not a sexual relationship between a coach and a student constitutes a Title IX violation will depend in part on the policies in place at the particular institution. If you are facing a Title IX complaint as a coach because of a relationship with an adult student athlete, you should seek advice from an attorney about how the college or university policy is likely to apply to your case.

How a National Title IX Defense Lawyer Can Help

Currently, coaches and trainers are not required to report concerns about Title IX violations involving other assistant coaches or student athletes, but the regulations could change.

If you are facing a Title IX investigation, it is essential to have an experienced national Title IX defense attorney on your side. Although the Title IX investigation and hearing process will not work like a courtroom in which you can hire a lawyer to represent you before a sexual misconduct board, for example, you can seek advice about handling a Title IX complaint and doing everything you can to prevent a mishandled case. Contact Duffy Law, LLC for more information about Title IX cases and defense strategies for coaches and other employees in college and university athletics programs.

How Can We Help?

How Can We Help?