Athletic Department reacts to LaSalle’s rape scandal

By Abigail Keefe
October 21, 2004

Aegina Foto

Cabrini College fears that the plague of sexual controversy that overwhelmed LaSalle University will spread to its peaceful campus. Three rape cases pointed the finger at LaSalle’s men’s basketball players. The Cabrini Athletic Department is now taking precautionary measures to ensure this type of problem will not occur among Cabrini athletes. LaSalle athletes have struggled and persevered through the thick turmoil. Male collegiate athletes are now being placed under a microscope in order to ensure the safety of the students.

If a Cabrini student was to take a leisurely walk down Olney Ave., located in the heart of LaSalle’s campus, it would be quite a different scene from that of Cabrini. Due to the rape scandals, students have observed an increase in police and campus security vehicles on patrol at the campus. The streets where clusters of students walk to class are closely observed by these watchdogs.

Obviously, Cabrini has not yet reached this point. Cabrini athletes are still widely respected on campus. “People still look up to us. I haven’t been treated any differently since these incidents,” said Boris Smojver, a senior Cabrini basketball player. “If I have been treated differently, it isn’t because I’m a basketball player,” Smojver said jokingly.

However, the question of how these incidents affected LaSalle athletes is presented. Sean McGovern, a LaSalle baseball player, was completely stunned by the incidents. McGovern wanted to stress that his team still receives the utmost support from the LaSalle community. However, he was still given a few orders by the coaching staff in response to the rape scandals.

“Just keep your mouths shut they said to us,” said LaSalle baseball player Sean McGovern. “We were told not to talk to the press about the incidents”. It was important for McGovern and his teammates to maintain their respectable image.

“Also, the coaches said if you go out at night for a drink, don’t wear LaSalle baseball clothes,” said McGovern. This was directed in hopes of not giving LaSalle an even worse name. Cabrini College has not yet reached the point where they had to regulate the attire of its athletes.

Stephen Ricci, assistant coach of the LaSalle football team and student, said that these incidents didn’t affect the football team. He stated that it was a problem that needed to be handled by the basketball department. It was absolutely necessary for the football team to stay focused on their season.

“We don’t act like that,” Ricci said. “The LaSalle football team is held to a strict code of conduct and the few basketball players that committed this act didn’t respect the code of conduct.” Other LaSalle athletes said that the basketball players were treated better than the average athlete.

“I think it’s the school’s fault for the way they handled this whole situation,” said Jessica McClernan, a LaSalle cheerleader. “The basketball players were given easy treatment and they tried to cover up the rapes.”

Although the coaches deny wrong doing, the alleged victims have said that they were told not to report the sexual assaults. Not reporting potential felonies is a violation of the Cleary Act, which requires colleges and universities to disclose certain timely and annual information about campus crime and security policies. Therefore, if a coach were to hear of or see an act of sexual misconduct and not report it, they would be in violation of the Cleary Act.

In response to the incidents at LaSalle, the Cabrini athletics department has taken a pro-active stance. Recently, the athletic department focused on educating Cabrini coaches and players.

“We’ve made coaches aware of the Cleary Act and the penalties that follow if you violate it,” said Leslie Danehy, the Cabrini athletic director. Jeff Falardeu, the assistant athletic director also commented, “It’s on my mind everyday. I have to keep my eyes open for this type of stuff. If not, someone could get hurt and I could lose my job.”

The Cabrini athletic department has taken additional steps in educating athletes. A special speaker will visit Cabrini in February to talk with all athletes. The speaker, Mike Domitrz, is a healthy dating and sexual assault expert. He will address topics like dating, communication, respect and sexual assault awareness. Domitrz will conclude with a small session strictly for male collegiate athletes.

Next year, the Cabrini athletic apartment will also host a separate orientation. This orientation will be held primarily for incoming freshman athletes. The orientation will educate athletes as to what can get them in trouble in terms of drinking and sexual misconduct.

“The goal of all these programs is to protect students from getting hurt and keeping them out of trouble,” Danehy said. Education and awareness is the method the Cabrini athletic department will use to prevent a problem like LaSalle had to deal with.

Posted to the web by Paul Nasella

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Abigail Keefe

Abigail Keefe is a Cabrini College student studying communications, enjoying her time in Radnor, Pennsylvania. Abbie loves working for the school newspaper, the Loquitur, and is also passionate about everything that the communication field has to offer.

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