University President Drew G. Faust said she is working “very closely” with Athletics Director Robert L. Scalise on a survey of the department’s culture after reports that members of two men’s teams created and distributed sexually explicit documents roiled the program late last year.
Faust said in an interview Friday that she is working with Scalise as consultants from National Consortium for Academics and Sports conduct a survey of student athletes, coaches, and staff and review the culture of the department’s 42 varsity programs.
"Bob Scalise has been consulting very closely with me about the planned climate survey, and I think that’s a really important and serious undertaking,” Faust said. “And as you know, he has now chosen a group of consultants, a company to work on that, and I’m eager to see their results and their suggestions, and I know he’s committed to working on that."
Though Faust is not usually involved in the Athletics Department, she has taken a more active role in the program recently. After The Crimson reported that the 2012 men’s soccer team created an explicit “scouting report” ranking freshmen recruits on the women’s team based on perceived sexual appeal and physical appearance, Faust ordered the Office of General Counsel to review the team. And after investigators found that the team continued the practice after 2012, Scalise cancelled the rest of the men’s soccer season.
In November, The Crimson reported that the men’s cross country team had created yearly spreadsheets including “sexually explicit” comments about members of the women’s team. Again, Harvard’s team of lawyers also looked into the team’s conduct, and the Athletics Department put the team on “athletic probation.” The Athletics Department announced that it would commission a professional review of the program’s culture.
The goal of the review is to create “the best possible environment in which to learn and compete” for student athletes, according to Senior Associate Athletics Director Nathan Fry. The survey asks athletes to respond to questions about team traditions, conflict resolution processes, and the response to discrimination in the department, among other topics.
Representatives from the Athletics Department have also started meeting with focus groups of student athletes to discuss the program’s culture and its impact on students at the College.
—Staff writer Leah S. Yared can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Leah_Yared.