The Mack Report

Task force releases recommendations for Boston University hockey program

Earlier this year, Boston University president Robert A. Brown established the Men’s Ice Hockey Task Force in order to review the culture of BU’s men’s hockey program amid a pair of player arrests for sexual assault during the 2011-12 season.

Today, that task force released its report along with recommendations for the program.

“Our conclusion is that there are a number of important structures and processes that are failing to achieve the full level and quality of oversight of the men’s ice hockey program that is expected and appropriate at a major university,” the findings read. “These failings include issues of institutional control and governance structure at the highest levels, as well as shortcomings in leadership at the team level.”

It continued, “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. This culture of sexual entitlement, as evidenced by frequent sexual encounters with women absent an emotional relationship or on-going commitment, can also involve unprotected sex. This culture is actively supported by a small subset of BU’s undergraduate population.”

The task force also handed 14 recommendations over to Brown, including the elimination of the “Executive Director of Athletics” role that BU head coach Jack Parker occupies along with his head coaching duties. The elimination of the role was recommended so that there is a “clear line of responsibility.”

The recommendations are as follows:

1. Normalize the reporting structure in the Department of Athletics so that all coaches, including the men’s ice hockey coach, report directly and exclusively to the Athletic Director. The Executive Director of Athletics position should be eliminated. This would establish clear lines of responsibility and accountability between the coach, the Athletic Director, and the President of the University.

2. The University should establish an office that provides care and counseling for victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment, as well as programs for sexual assault prevention training and sexual and reproductive health education. The director of this office should report directly to the Office of the Provost.

3. The men’s ice hockey team members should undergo sexual assault prevention training on an annual basis from a reputable specialty organization that has expertise in evidence-based best practices.

4. The University should establish an office to develop and implement a comprehensive alcohol and other drug prevention program that is grounded in evidence-based best practices. The director of this office should report directly to the Office of the Provost.

5. The Provost’s Office should oversee a review by the Athletics Department of the Student-Athlete Code of Conduct to ensure that it clearly articulates the behaviors that are expected of the University’s student-athletes and describes the sanctions that will be imposed for violations. The Athletics Department should also ensure that the Student-Athlete Code of Conduct is readily available to all student-athletes, and that all student-athletes recognize it as the governing code.

6. The Athletics Department should develop a strategic plan to ensure that members of the men’s ice hockey team in particular, and student-athletes in general, are better integrated into student life. Special attention should be given to the issue of housing, including the extent to which team members are housed in the same residence halls.

7. A review of the processes and standards used by admissions for recruits to the men’s ice hockey program should be conducted to ensure that student-athletes are academically prepared to be successful students at Boston University.

8. Student-athletes should not have the option of enrolling in Metropolitan College (night school).

9. Steps should be taken to establish regular, formal communication between coaches and representatives from appropriate campus resources in order to ensure that men’s ice hockey players have full access to campus programs and staff to help them address their behavioral, substance abuse, or mental health-related issues.

10. The Provost’s Office should oversee an Athletics Department review and revision of the team-level written policies for men’s ice hockey, which should include clearly articulated expectations for players’ behavior both on and off the ice, as well as the disciplinary actions that can result from violating those policies. This effort should include, but not be restricted to, updating the current team rules document to include specific polices related to sexual misconduct/sexual violence and alcohol use.

11. Procedures should be developed to require—and ensure—that any misconduct that involves potential violations of University policies or federal, state, or local laws, be handled by Judicial Affairs or through other regular channels, consistent with how the same incidents would be handled for non-athletes.

12. The Department of Athletics should provide access to a sports psychologist or similar professional who can provide confidential psychological and emotional support and guidance for the players.

13. Formalize a program of peer and alumni mentoring for men’s hockey players involving academically high-achieving team members and professionally successful alumni who could set standards for, support, and encourage players to achieve academic excellence and meet their career goals outside of hockey, and develop healthy and mutually respectful interpersonal and sexual relationships.

14. The University should develop collaborative partnerships with local businesses, campus area bars, and restaurants to implement policies and programs that will help ensure the safety of all students.