Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
Track women athletes

NCAA Continues to Claim it has No Legal Responsibility to Protect Student-Athletes from Sexual Abuse

NCAA court filing with State Supreme Court echoes earlier argument made in U.S. District Court that the organization does not ‘owe’ student-athletes protection from sexual abuse and harassment

As reported in The Orange County Register, the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) has filed a brief in support of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee in a potentially groundbreaking State Supreme Court case, asking the court to rule that the USOPC does not have a legal responsibility to protect student-athletes from sexual abuse, sexual harassment, or inappropriate sexual contact from coaches.

In the filing, the NCAA argues that a Supreme Court ruling finding that the USOPC does have a legal obligation to protect student-athletes could also serve as a major blow to the NCAA.

“This Court should hold that the USOPC did not owe a duty to Plaintiffs” to protect them from sexual abuse and harassment, NCAA attorneys wrote in the brief.

The NCAA’s continuing claim that it has no duty to protect student athletes from sexual abuse was earlier challenged by Lieff Cabraser and Co-Counsel on behalf of students earlier this year in a case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The complaint in that case alleges that the NCAA put student-athletes at all NCAA member schools in harm’s way by failing to prohibit sexual abuse, sexual harassment, or sexual contact between coaches and student-athletes, and by permitting coaches accused of sexual abuse to move unhampered between NCAA schools.

The named plaintiffs in the earlier case, three former University of Texas track athletes, allege they were sexually abused and harassed by coach John Rembao, who was also the track and cross-country coach at the University of Arizona and several other NCAA-affiliated universities. The three athletes allege the NCAA helped facilitate a national epidemic by perpetuating a cycle of sexual abuse—like that seen in the Catholic Church— as it chose not to implement rules or impose any sanctions that would require schools to take steps to prevent and report abuse by coaches and deter perpetrators.

While the NCAA admits sexual abuse and harassment are major problems on the campuses of its member institutions, attorneys for the organization argue here as in the Rembao case that the NCAA just does not owe student athletes a legal duty to protect them from sexual abuse, sexual harassment, or sexual predation.

Learn more about the NCAA and Coach Rembao sexual abuse lawsuit.

Contact a Sexual Abuse Lawyer at Lieff Cabraser

Lieff Cabraser represents individuals nationwide in sexual abuse lawsuits against their physicians, teachers, clergy, and other abusers, including the USC sexual abuse litigation filed on behalf of nearly 18,000 women abused by University gynecologist George Tyndall, where Lieff Cabraser partner Annika K. Martin serves as co-lead class counsel whose efforts led to a historic settlement for victims of $215 million and sweeping institutional reforms at USC.

If you were a NCAA student-athlete subjected to sexually abuse or inappropriate conduct by your coach, or are a current student-athlete regardless of whether you were a victim of assault or sexual misconduct, we urge you to contact Annika or Lieff Cabraser attorney Rhea Ghosh today about being a part of the class action, your legal rights, and potential recovery at 800 541-7358 or by using the secure form below. There is no charge or obligation for your outreach, and all information will be held in the strictest confidence.