Boston University’s hockey sex scandal has put the spotlight on the predatory habits of college athletes. False rape accusations against Duke lacrosse players notwithstanding, there is an attitude of sexual entitlement among college athletes that views consent as optional. The scandal came to light this past February when the school announced it would investigate its hockey team, which confers the highest social status on its members.
The Boston University men’s ice hockey team has policies to keep players out of trouble off the ice: Captains are mandated to keep teammates in line; players are allowed to drink only one night a week during the season; and this year the team cosponsored a statewide campaign to prevent assaults on women.
…On Tuesday, junior Max Nicastro pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape in an incident that allegedly occurred on campus Sunday, just hours after a game. In December, senior Corey Trivino, pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual assault after he was accused of repeatedly barging into a resident adviser’s room, trying to grope her, and refusing to leave.
…The BU student newspaper regularly reports on apparent episodes of heavy drinking and bad behavior among hockey players, and Trivino and another team member recently made a profane YouTube video about women.
In an interview earlier this week with the Globe, BU hockey coach Jack Parker said that if his team’s culture was found wanting, he would work to change it, a sentiment Brown praised in a letter yesterday to the campus community.
But Parker expressed a seemingly different view in an interview yesterday.
“You can’t change the culture that’s evolved here; we’re not going to be able to step into people’s lives and change them drastically,’’ he said, referring to heavy drinking, casual sexual encounters, and co-ed dormitories.
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 sense of privilege officials say contributed to two alleged sexual assaults on campus during the past season.
That culture of entitlement stems “in part from their elevated social status on campus,” and is marked by heavy use of alcohol and casual sexual encounters with female students.
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.
[University President Robert] Brown said a “celebrity culture” around the team had fueled a “permissive attitude of sexual entitlement” among players. He said he was surprised by the scope of the problem and said the university needed to “punch holes in the walls” around the team, to reduce a “culture of isolation.”
[Provost Jean] Morrison said the status that hockey players enjoy on campus is similar to that of athletes in other high-profile programs, but the entitled culture had probably deepened over time. The team’s star culture is “actively supported by a small subset” of undergraduates, including women who pursue players romantically.
The report also found that a number of team members were admitted to the university despite grades and test scores that were considerably below average. With some exceptions, those athletes’ college grades also lag.
Yesterday the Boston Globe got its hands on the internal documents of the investigation, which reveals just how out of control things were:
In the documents…were tales of a late-night 2009 NCAA championship party at Agganis Arena where dozens of guests drank from kegs in the locker room showers and took to the ice naked to shoot pucks.
“It was insane,” one former student who attended told the BU task force. “People were having sex in the penalty box.”
The subcommittee documents make clear that at least some BU hockey players, surrounded by adoring fans, had “the perception that they need not seek consent for sexual contact.”
One player came close to admitting that. “You don’t ask [permission for sex] when you are drunk,” he told the task force, adding that he did not see how the actions of the two players charged last year constituted sexual assault.
A female student told the task force that a player had shoved his hands down her pants at a party and refused to stop even as she was punching him. She did not report the incident to authorities because, she said, “that’s just what [BU hockey players] do.”
Another told of a Facebook posting “in which hockey players boast about their sexual exploits,” referring to conquests as “kills.”
Parker told the task force he had stressed the importance of being respectful to women and advised players to avoid group sex, which the confidential report notes players engage in with surprising regularity. “However,” Parker is quoted as saying, “my job is not to say, ‘You guys gotta be celibate.’ ”
While salacious stories abound, it’s hard to get data on how many sexual partners athletes in college have, consensual or otherwise. No doubt there are large differences by sport as well. At BU, hockey players rule, while at Duke basketball and lax players have their pick.
Reader Zach recently shared the results of a survey distributed at Penn by a student newspaper. They sent out 1,500 anonymous surveys to a random sample of undergraduates and got over 500 back. It’s only one school, and one snapshot, and it includes both men and women, but it’s interesting nonetheless because it asks specifically about Greek life and athletics. Some highlights:
I’ve estimated the numbers to put the last graph into table format for a direct comparison:
Clearly, athletes get more sex than anyone else. Interestingly, though, 80% of them aren’t doing much hooking up, reporting 6 lifetime partners or less (no breakdown by class was provided). Joining a frat or playing a sport may get you in the door but neither is a one-way ticket to manwhore status.
Still, the sexual debauchery is real, at least at universities with big bucks athletic programs.
When it comes to athletics, universities clearly prefer willful ignorance to ensuring the safety of their students.
It’s obvious that AD Parker is falling on his sword for this – he’s been stripped of his title, but will suffer no reduction in salary. Too often it’s “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
The teams have a small but ardent set of groupies who offer sexual favors.
With those girls, everything is on the table, all the time. (One college athlete refers to them as “creamies.”)
Trouble arises when athletes step outside that group with the same sense of entitlement:
- Corey Trivino refused to believe that a dorm RA would turn him down for sex.
- Another player says consent is unnecessary when drunk.
Parker is right that you just can’t change the culture of the university and curb drinking and casual sex.
What BU can and should do, however, is stop admitting dumb meatheads. They should also institute a zero tolerance policy and promptly expel athletes for any misconduct, including use of school property for orgies and shoving their fists down coeds’ jeans.
This will not happen.
This behavior by a few privileged, sociopathic males hurts all men by creating an impression of campus males as insensitive and violent sexual brutes.
This is precisely the kind of news item that will be used politically to make false rape charges easier to level against all male students. The fact that a hockey player doesn’t know what constitutes sexual assault, and believes that Trivino did nothing wrong by entering a girl’s room without invitation, refusing to leave, and attempting to grope her is profoundly troubling.
Most men don’t behave this way, including most athletes. As a parent I would think twice about sending a child to Boston University. It’s not physically safe for women, and not legally safe for men.