OGDEN — The Big Sky Conference announced Monday the adoption of a sweeping rule prohibiting athletes with violent criminal histories from competing for schools in the conference.
The “Serious Misconduct Rule” applies to both current and prospective athletes. It reads, in part, as follows:
“A current or prospective student-athlete who has been convicted of or pled guilty or no contest to a felony or misdemeanor involving Serious Misconduct ... shall not be eligible for athletically-related financial aid, practice or competition at a Big Sky member institution ... ‘serious misconduct’ is defined as any act of sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual exploitation, or any assault that employs the use of a deadly weapon or causes serious bodily injury.”
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It is believed to be the toughest such rule in the country, as it applies to both felonies and misdemeanors, and applies retroactively to current students.
The rule was crafted by a group comprised of presidents, faculty, student-athletes, athletic administrators, lawyers and Title IX representatives from Big Sky schools, as well as Big Sky officials.
“This rule sets the tone and expectations the conference has for its institutions,” commissioner Andrea Williams said in a statement. “The Big Sky is taking ownership and accountability for the culture we create and reputation we project on campus, within our community and in our conference.
“We are most proud that this step supports the commitment that our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has already taken to address and end violence on campus.”
Several conferences, like the Southeastern Conference and the Pac-12, adopted a similar rule regarding felonies and accepting transfers from other schools but didn’t address incoming freshmen.
Williams said it was the athletes that set the tone for the rule, telling 406mtsports.com, “Our student-athletes inspired us to take action.”
The rule takes effect in the 2019-20 school year for current athletes and with the signing period that begins Dec. 19, 2019, for prospective athletes.
The conference says schools can request an appeal for “unique and compelling cases” that would be reviewed by a panel of school officials outside the athletic department.
Weber State is a founding member of the Big Sky and has been a continuous member since the conference was created in 1963.