Dear Members of the USF Community,
Now that the spring semester has begun, we write to update you on the investigation into a series of complaints about a former student athlete and allegations of a predatory culture in the men’s soccer program.
As you recall, in July 2020, we wrote to you about how seriously we take these allegations and that we were supplementing our own Title IX work by hiring independent investigators. The six-month independent investigation by Hulst & Handler LLP has concluded, and the resulting 53-page report is now available, in its entirety and unedited, on the university’s website.
In the course of the investigation, Hulst & Handler reached out to 120 individuals, including former students and administrators; reviewed reports and files, social media posts, correspondence, and other material; and followed up with individuals who submitted information after the July complaints were made public. Investigators interviewed 90 individuals who were willing to participate.
Among the report’s findings:
- “While a limited number of USF men’s soccer team players engaged in sexual misconduct and disrespectful behavior toward women and/or LGBTQIA individuals over the past decade, such behavior is not pervasive among members of the USF men’s soccer team.”
- “Consistent with its policies and procedures, USF responded to reported instances of sexual misconduct involving the soccer team and held accountable any soccer players and coaches found responsible for violating USF’s sexual misconduct policies.”
The report, however, pointed to areas where a breakdown in communication among administrators and coaches led to deep mistrust of whether allegations of sexual misconduct were being properly handled, and whether student-athletes accused of misconduct received preferential treatment.
We know that, with new leadership, change has taken place within the soccer team, and that many members of the community have been working together to ensure students, faculty, and staff are held accountable to community standards.
Still, we can and must do better. In order for all USF students to learn, work, and succeed in and beyond the classroom, we must strive to do more in terms of education, reporting, and providing support services.
Fr. Fitzgerald has asked Julie Orio, vice president of student life, and Joan McDermott, athletics director, to review the report with their staffs and to develop an action plan. You can expect follow-up communications from them in the coming weeks.
We are grateful to all who came forward and cooperated with this investigation. We appreciate and respect the courage it takes to revisit painful experiences and report sexual assault and misconduct.
We remind all members of the community that no matter when sexual misconduct took place in our community — last week or decades ago — you will be heard and supported if you decide to come forward, either to our Title IX office or our anonymous whistleblower hotline.
Thank you to all who participated in this investigation. We look forward to continuing to update you on the university’s progress in advancing our sexual misconduct policies, education, and support services.
John F. Nicolai
Chairman, University of San Francisco Board of Trustees
Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.
President, University of San Francisco