UTSA is the first college in the nation to implement a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault and misconduct for athletes. On Sept. 17, UTSA announced the implementation of the Tracy Rule, a policy now in effect that attaches a student-athlete’s eligibility to their behavior.
“I think it speaks volumes for having a president who supports this, obviously me, being the vice president for intercollegiate athletics, to support this,” Lisa Campos, UTSA athletic director, said.
According to the Tracy Rule, students may not participate in practices or competitions at UTSA if the athlete has pleaded guilty, no contest or been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor related to Serious Misconduct.
“‘Serious Misconduct’ is defined as any act of incest, rape, sexual assault, sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual exploitation, hate crime, murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault, any assault that employs the use of a deadly weapon or causes serious bodily injury,” the rule states.
Student-athletes will also be ineligible to practice or play if behaviors are discovered related to Serious Misconduct. Additionally, the Tracy Rule prohibits students from receiving athletic-related financial aid.
The Tracy Rule is named after Brenda Tracy, a sexual assault survivor and founder of a national campaign and nonprofit called #SetTheExpectation, who visited UTSA this past year to share her story and discuss sexual assault and misconduct prevention. Tracy met with UTSA athletes, coaches and athletic staff as well as Greek Life, students, faculty and staff. Many members from the UTSA community signed the #SetTheExpectation pledge that recognizes sexual assault and physical violence as unacceptable.
“Every campus in this country has a problem with sexual assault and interpersonal violence,” Tracy said. “I’m very proud of the UTSA Athletics department for taking a stand on these issues and doing their part to make the campus community safer. I hope the NCAA and other schools will follow their lead.”
This policy does not require the university to perform formal background checks, but potential student-athletes have to fill out the UTSA Minimum Expectations for Due Diligence Inquiries questionnaire. This asks students seven questions regarding Serious Misconduct.
Transfer student-athletes are required to fill out a form that addresses the same components. Their form also requires a signature from their previous institutions’ Title IX Office to verify whether the student was a respondent and, if so, whether they were found responsible.
“For those that perhaps lie on that form and it does come out, which we know that these things are hard to hide, there are consequences for that. We have our student-athlete code of conduct committee that would definitely look at that and try to understand why they had answered something incorrectly or deceptively and find out more details about that,” Campos said.
The UTSA Tracy Rule Advisory Committee will determine whether to provide aid or allow a student-athlete to practice or compete if a question regarding the Tracy Rule arises. President Taylor Eighmy will appoint members of this committee. Potential members are still being identified.
This policy was formed from the framework that Tracy provided as well as from conversations with people from UTSA’s Title IX Office, Student Conduct, Legal Affairs, Athletics and Tracy’s attorneys.
According to Campos, protests that students held on campus last year did not prompt the athletic department’s decision to bring Tracy to UTSA, but the protests allowed them to be aware of how the UTSA community felt about the university’s response to sexual assault and misconduct.
“When I first got here, that was one of the things through our life skills program, that I said ‘listen, at some point we have got to bring this individual onto the UTSA campus,” Campos said. “Then the protests and everything coincidentally started happening, so it was already on our radar. We were already looking at educational opportunities for our student-athletes. The protests gave awareness to the landscape and how people were feeling and perceptions here at the UTSA campus. But for athletics, things were already in motion.”
Campos also stated that UTSA coaches have always been thorough when looking into the backgrounds of athletes they bring to UTSA. Coaches speak to parents, do home visits, meet with past coaches and counselors as well as monitor social media. This policy is a way to formalize the recruiting process and allows coaches to find out as much as they can about the student-athletes they bring to UTSA.
“It is going to really send a message to anyone who is thinking about being a part of UTSA athletics that we are serious about the students we recruit here, we’re serious about the student-athletes who are going to represent our department and this institution and that we do want, for lack of a better word, set the expectation of what we want to create in our culture,” Campos said.
Not only does this policy affect new recruits, but current athletes will also be required to fill out the same forms. “Now that the policy is official, all of our current student-athletes, in the next couple of days, or by next week, will be completing that paperwork as well,” Campos said. “We don’t anticipate having any surprises, you never know, but they are going to go through the process just like any recruited student-athlete coming to UTSA.”
Campos anticipates other universities reaching out on how to implement a policy like the Tracy Rule at their institutions.
“I think people really value this and value that UTSA has gone the extra mile working with Brenda to help develop this policy for UTSA,” Campos said. “We’re just really proud of this, our student-athletes were so moved they wanted to be a part of something special, which this really is, and they want to be a part of making change and this is definitely making change.”