The Bernstein Brief: Is Proposed Illinois Violence Policy Mostly Cosmetic?

By Dan Bernstein–
CBSChicago.com senior columnist

(CBS) Anything is better than doing nothing when it comes to preventing assault against women on college campuses, that much is certain. Any proposed policy that makes women at all safer is a positive step.

The University of Illinois appears poised to enact new rules to do that, following in the footsteps of Indiana by banning athletes with a history of violence from being accepted. The problem remains in the details, however, with a bar set so high that it may leave room for all kinds of danger to continue to exist.

Illinois would mirror the actions taken by Indiana that refuse any player “who has been convicted of or pleaded guilty or no contest to a felony involving sexual violence,” according to the report in the Chicago Tribune. Here’s hoping the Illini set the threshold at less than that, because such felony convictions for these crimes are so rare.

Remember Pierre Pierce, the Iowa basketball player who was protected and enabled enough by Steve Alford to commit multiple assaults at the school? His first conviction was pleaded down to a misdemeanor. Just this past year saw Kendrick Nunn booted from Illinois after agreeing to plead guilty to a battery charge that was, again, a misdemeanor. There are too many examples to count of violent crimes that result in less than the felony level outlined by the standards that Illinois seems to be using.

If athletic director Josh Whitman really wants to make it difficult for teams to accept bad guys, he can by allowing for lesser crimes or accusations to impede enrollment, as college admissions are already an inherently selective process. If this stays at felony conviction, the policy would protect the school’s public image far more than it would protect women on campus.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s “Bernstein and Goff Show” in afternoon drive. You can follow him on Twitter  @dan_bernstein and read more of his columns here.

More from Dan Bernstein

Watch & Listen LIVE