Jerry Sandusky. Baylor. Urban Meyer. Michigan State. As even the casual college sports fan knows, the last decade was plagued by a seemingly unending series of scandals in which collegiate athletes or other individuals related to college sports programs suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of their teammates or coaches. Frequently, school officials including coaches and athletics administrators knew about this abuse but failed to take even minimal, reasonable steps to stop further harm to students. Sometimes, these officials faced personal and professional consequences, but they repeatedly escaped legal ones. Time and again, college coaches and administrators have gotten away with ignoring abuse directed at and committed by those within their supervision. This Note examines the legal background of omissions liability, that is, the imposition of civil or criminal punishment on individuals for failures to act in situations where they have a duty to do so. This Note explores how the common law system’s historically lax treatment of omissions liability has led to the incomprehensible reality described above. Finally, this Note explains why, for coach and administrator accountability and for player protection, it is time to change this reality and provides practical solutions for achieving that goal.
a J.D., 2020, University of Illinois College of Law. B.S., 2016, Miami University.
The full text of this Note is available to download as a PDF.