Credit: Contributed

Last Friday in Davidson County, Tenn., former Vanderbilt University football player Brandon Banks was found guilty of rape by a jury. The erstwhile defensive back was convicted on one count of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated sexual battery.

The 23-year-old Banks was acquitted on five other charges of aggravated rape and aggravated sexual battery. Sentencing has been scheduled for Aug. 13. The aggravated rape charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Prosecutors stated that in 2013, a 21-year-old female neuroscience major at the academically prestigious university was sexually assaulted by several college football players while unconscious inside a dorm room. Thus far, Banks’ former Vanderbilt teammates, Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey, have been found guilty and sentenced for their actions in the case. Vandenburg was sentenced to 17 years in prison last June and Batey received a 15-year sentence in April 2016. A fourth teammate, Jaborian McKenzie, testified against the trio hoping to be granted a plea deal significantly less harsh than Banks’, Vandenburg’s and Batey’s punishment.

The case further illuminates the nationwide crisis of sexual assaults taking place on college campuses, notably committed by athletes. According to statistics put forth by the United States Department of Justice, one out of every four female undergraduates will be victim to some form of sexual assault before graduation.

Culling data from the National Crime Victimization Survey, the U.S. Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services, the website Rainn.org noted that 11.2 percent of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation among all graduate and undergraduate students. 

Additionally, among graduate and professional students, 8.8 percent of females and 2.2 percent of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation. Among undergraduate students, 23.1 percent of females and 5.4 percent of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation. The numbers are chilling and disturbing. 

At Baylor University, alleged sexual assault by members of the football program between 2012 and 2016 led to the firing of head coach Art Briles, the demotion and subsequent resignation of university president Ken Starr and the resignation of athletic director Ian McCaw. 

Immorally and unethically, administrators, coaches and prominent supporters of college athletic programs such as Baylor’s, which generate nearly $100 million annually in revenue for their schools, turn a blind eye to or engage in cover-ups of sexual assault.  It’s an issue that should be a priority for every college president and board.