September 6, 2012

BU looks to curb culture of 'sexual entitlement'

By Jesse Connolly

A task force comprised of professors and trustees assembled earlier this year has concluded that a “culture of sexual entitlement” exists among some BU players and that proper steps must be made in order to change the general mindset prevalent on campus. 

BU coach Jack Parker will relinquish his role as executive athletic director. (Dave Arnold Photography)

The Terriers saw two of their players arrested for sexual assault during the 2011-12 season. Both Max Nicastro and Corey Trivino were removed from the university. Nicastro’s rape charges were dropped, while Trivino pleaded guilty to assault.

“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,” the report stated.

In response to the report, Boston University announced that longtime head coach Jack Parker (Somerville, Mass.) would no longer serve as executive athletic director. In a statement, Parker said the recommendations will "help our team, other student-athletes, and the student body in general."

BU’s players must also go through sexual assault prevention training. Furthermore, student-athletes can no longer attend night classes at Metropolitan College, which was previously utilized as a way of making up credits. Admissions standards for men's team will also be reviewed.

“It’s clear we need to do a better job of educating players about sexual assault,” said Jean Morrison, the university’s provost who co-chaired the panel. “They are stars, and they feel they are different.”

WCVB-TV interviewed multiple BU students who reaffirmed the task force’s assessment.

"If you give a 20-year-old who plays a lot of sports and he's pumped up, and you say 'go do whatever you want and no one's going judge you because you're on the hockey team,' he's probably going to take that in the wrong direction," student Samantha Kassel told the station.

Olympic gold medalist Mike Eruzione (Winthrop, Mass.), a star player and former assistant coach at BU, believes the panel’s findings are prevalent throughout college athletics.

"I think athletes, men and women, sometimes feel a sense of entitlement because of the stature that they carry at a university -- whether it's a hockey player at BU, football player at Texas or a woman basketball player at UConn,” Eruzione told WCVB. “What I was happy about is that they found is that's really nothing drastically wrong with the BU hockey program -- I think it's more the culture of college athletics.”

Junior forward Ben Rosen’s father, Mike, commended the school’s approach to the situation but also said that the wrongdoings of a few individuals have painted the entire team in a negative light.

"I'd like to say the school's doing the right thing in pursuing this, and we'll see how things flesh out, but personally knowing a lot of kids on the team, they're upstanding, high-level student athletes,” Rosen told WCVB. “It's unfortunate that some issues with a couple of kids made the whole team look bad. I can certainly say that about my son, but I applaud the school for taking the bull by the horns.”

According to players that ABC News reached out to, team members were instructed to refrain from commenting on the report.

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.