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Joint statement from Ohio University President McDavis and the Board of Trustees Executive Committee

ATHENS, Ohio (Oct. 4, 2006) -- Following is a joint statement that was issued by Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis and the Ohio University Board of Trustees Executive Committee on Oct. 3, 2006, concerning recent events regarding the behavior of 17 Ohio University football players who have been arrested and in most cases convicted of various crimes including disorderly conduct, assault, and driving under the influence – and related university policies, practices and values.

There is no more important mission for the Ohio University Board of Trustees and President than to protect and advance the institutional and academic reputation and integrity of Ohio University.  We owe no less to the citizens of Ohio and to our students, faculty and staff, and to our alumni and friends.

With this in mind, the Executive Committee of the Ohio University Board of Trustees and President McDavis met in a special executive session today to discuss personnel matters related to significant issues involving the integrity of our football program.  Our football program has come under scrutiny recently due to the revelation that 17 of our student athletes have been, over the past nine months, arrested for various offenses, including alcohol related disorderly conduct and assault.  Most of these individuals have since been convicted, including one player who received a ten-day jail sentence for assault.

The President and Executive Committee are fully respectful of the legal and due process rights of our players, including the presumption of innocence until proven guilty; we also understand that nearly all Ohio University athletes continue to deserve our support and respect; however, when a significant number of our football players have plead guilty or been convicted of a crime and then they are not sanctioned by the University, it raises serious and substantive concerns regarding our policies and procedures.  These concerns connect directly to our institutional values and integrity. 

The President and Executive Committee agree unanimously that as a matter of policy and principle the University must adhere to the highest ethical standards regarding all its activities, including student athletics.  That is why we are demanding higher standards for personal conduct, brighter lines in terms of what is acceptable and unacceptable student athlete behavior and clearer, stronger standards for student sanctions. 

Within this new policy framework should be provisions for suspension, revoking scholarships, or expulsion for certain crimes that not only disgrace our athletes and our University, but that are fundamentally inconsistent with our shared values and our institutional integrity.  These new standards shall be fair, reasonable and uniformly applied.  And they should be consistent with broader University standards for personal, professional and institutional conduct.

The critical nature of these issues is underscored by other recent developments that threatened our reputation and integrity, including student plagiarism and the supervision of graduate theses and the shortcomings of our information technology systems.  The Board of Trustees and President want to assure the Ohio University community and the public generally that they are fully committed to doing everything possible to encourage timely and appropriate resolution of all these matters, working in concert with the faculty, students and staff of Ohio University.

Addressing these issues appropriately and forthrightly is not only the best, it is the only, way forward to a better future, which is entirely consistent with our shared commitment to the core values that have made Ohio University a great educational institution for over 200 years. ________________________________________________________________________

(Note:  The Executive Committee of the Ohio University Board of Trustees is composed of trustees Greg Browning, Dan Delawder, Marnette Perry and Larry Schey.)

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Media Contact: Director of Media Relations Jack Jeffery, (740) 597-1793 or jefferyj@ohio.edu

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