University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s Failure to Safeguard Student Athletes: A Title IX Investigation by the Justice Department

By Mar 24, 2024

University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s

University-Introduction: The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) has found itself under scrutiny following a damning investigation by the US Justice Department regarding the mishandling of sexual harassment and discrimination allegations against the former head swimming and diving coach, Chad Cradock. The investigation revealed a distressing pattern of misconduct, where male athletes were subjected to sexual abuse and female athletes faced discrimination, highlighting systemic failures in protecting student-athletes. This article explores the findings of the investigation, the university’s response, and the proposed remedies to rectify these egregious shortcomings.


The Justice Department’s Findings: According to a 14-page letter addressed to UMBC, the Justice Department uncovered disturbing instances of sexual harassment and discrimination within the university’s athletic program. The investigation revealed that numerous male student-athletes fell victim to sexual abuse and assault perpetrated by the former head coach between 2015 and 2020. Shockingly, UMBC was aware of these allegations but failed to take adequate measures to address the hostile environment created by the coach’s actions. Among the allegations were claims that the coach filmed students while showering and sexually touched male athletes within the university’s aquatic center. Furthermore, the Athletics Department neglected to report several incidents of dating violence perpetrated by male student-athletes against their female teammates.

President Valerie Sheares Ashby’s Response: UMBC President Valerie Sheares Ashby expressed deep concern over the findings of the investigation, acknowledging the university’s failure to protect its students. She emphasized UMBC’s commitment to rectifying these failures and rebuilding trust within the community. Chad Cradock, the implicated coach, was placed on leave in October 2020 and tragically died by suicide in March 2021. Despite his passing, the investigation shed light on systemic deficiencies within the Athletics Department, which remained ill-equipped to address the unique vulnerabilities of student-athletes to sexual harassment and discrimination.

Proposed Remedies and Settlement Agreement: The Justice Department outlined several remedies that UMBC must implement to address the shortcomings identified during the investigation. These measures include providing additional training for coaching staff, establishing a new reporting structure to ensure that incidents of sexual misconduct are promptly reported to the Title IX office, and committing to expedited investigations of Title IX violations. UMBC has agreed to these proposed reforms, signaling a commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of its students.

Impact on Student-Athletes: The Justice Department’s investigation revealed a troubling reality faced by student-athletes at UMBC, where they were subjected to a “perverse choice” between enduring sexual advances from the coach or risking adverse consequences such as loss of scholarships and housing. The hypersexualized environment described by students, coupled with inappropriate comments and misconduct from coaching staff, created a toxic atmosphere detrimental to the physical and emotional well-being of athletes. Many athletes felt powerless to speak out against the coach’s behavior, fearing retaliation and ostracization from their peers.

President Sheares Ashby’s Apology: President Sheares Ashby offered a heartfelt apology to the students who were harmed by the university’s failures, acknowledging the profound impact of the misconduct on their lives. She reassured students that UMBC is committed to fostering a culture of accountability and transparency, urging anyone who experiences discrimination or misconduct to report it without hesitation. She emphasized that such behavior would not be tolerated and reaffirmed UMBC’s dedication to upholding its values and obligations under Title IX.

Conclusion: The findings of the Justice Department’s investigation into UMBC’s handling of sexual harassment and discrimination allegations within its athletic program are deeply troubling. The university’s failure to protect its student-athletes from abuse and discrimination underscores the urgent need for comprehensive reforms and accountability measures. As UMBC works to implement the proposed remedies and rebuild trust within the community, it must prioritize the safety and well-being of its students above all else. Only through concerted efforts to address systemic shortcomings can UMBC ensure that such failures never happen again, reaffirming its commitment to fostering a campus environment free from harassment and discrimination.

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