When it comes to student athletes and sexual assault, the Hoyas “get it”…


According to an article in Inside Higher Education, what began as a response to incidents of sexual assault at Duke University and the University of Virginia has evolved into a proactive program, the Hoyas Lead program, which joins Georgetown University’s (GU) Athletics, Academics, and Student Services divisions to teach GU athletes to get more out of their sport than just wins. In 2012, GU’s President, John J. DeGioia, created and funded the program using his office’s budget.

About Hoyas Lead, GU’s Assistant Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Leadership and Development, Mike Lorenzen, said:

How do we find that balance? Are we just entertainment, or are we really using athletics as a means to a developmental end?

There’s a lot of hoopla generated by schools that are paying lip service to it but not really investing in a day-to-day, rubber meets the road, look the kid in the eye in a variety of situations and help them deal with their lives and capture the essence of their athletic experience.

Lorenzen believes that Hoyas Lead is well-suited to GU’s Jesuit mission, “Utraque unum,” which speaks to unity and educating the whole person.

Hoyas Lead began by bringing in an outside consultant who spoke with students about leadership. Now in its second year, the program has evolved into a comprehensive approach to athlete development includes a curricular component. Although classes are “required,” they’re not technically mandatory with about 140 of 150 new athletes signed up for them. By junior and senior year, athletes aren’t obliged to participate in Hoyas Lead. But, for those who want to do so through a more experiential-based approach, lectures and seminars as well as practical work such as working with kids, mentoring, assistant teaching, etc., are available.

This academic and co-curricular work is complemented by Lorenzen’s consulting teams on their athletic responsibilities. According to Lorenzen:

We have young people who are forced to deal with suffering, discomfort, dealing with adversity, success. They have to learn to follow, they have to learn to lead, and they do all of this in an ongoing, iterative process every day. If you believe that [athletics] truly belongs in higher education, it is a unique lab within which we can practice human development.

Reflecting upon the Hoyas Lead program, Lorenzen said:

At an institution like Georgetown, there is an almost institutionalized sense of inadequacy on the part of student-athletes who know that they got in here because they’re an athlete, and sit in class next to really smart people who got in because of their SATs and their GPAs. A lot of what we’re doing now is helping them see the value that they get out of their sport and reframing their participation in athletics as a really critical life skill.

The Motley Monk offers kudos to the GU Hoyas who have done something proactive to address the potential problem of athletes who commit sexual assault.


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The Motley Monk

The Motley Monk is Fr. Richard Jacobs, O.S.A., a Professor of Public Administration at Villanova University. His academic specialities include: organizational theory; leadership ethics; Catholic educational leadership; and, U.S. Catholic educational history. Check out Fr. Jacobs' daily blog at http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html.


  1. Interesting.

    There was a series of articles recently in Sports Illustrated about the Oklahoma State University football team, which documented scandals as bad as anything you were afraid of in college sports. One of its claims was that the special treatment dries up quickly if a player gets injured or fails to play at the skill level the coaches were hoping for. I’d always thought that the players come out ahead in these big programs, but that was short-sighted of me.

  2. “… as a response to incidents of sexual assault at Duke University and the University of Virginia …”

    That is not an accurate assessment of the incidents linked in the piece.

    At my alma mater, the University of Virginia, a lacrosse athlete killed his ex-girlfriend, also a lacrosse athlete, in a domestic violence incident (he was convicted of 2nd-degree murder). It was not an incident of sexual assault, at least not as how that term is legally defined. It’s actually worse than sexual assault, but I point it out for the sake of accuracy.

    At Duke (and I can’t believe I’m actually defending the only college I’ve forbidden my children from attending), we all know the story of the stripper performing at the lacrosse party and making up the story of being sexually assaulted. The prosecutor who brought the case, Michael Nifong, was even disbarred, and the State Bar enacted “Nifong Rules” to try to head off future instances of prosecutor misconduct. And that is the LAST time I will EVER say anything in defense of Douche … err … Duke University again.

  3. Not that the Duke lacrosse team should be defended for having a stripper at their party. For that, they should be roundly criticized. And Georgetown should be commended for its efforts to avoid these sorts of incidents.

  4. Never having been bit by the college sports bug, I cannot figure why massive entertainment complexes (staffed with shamateur performers) are appended to state universities.

  5. Never having been bit by the college sports bug, I cannot figure why massive entertainment complexes (staffed with shamateur performers) are appended to state universities.

    It’s one of those things where every decision along the way made sense, but the outcome is absurd.

  6. Yeah, Mike, I’m still smarting a little since my family traveled back to CVille so that I could take my sons to that game.

    But the REAL question is whether Duke Law School is still smarting from dropping out of the Top 10.


  7. Jay, it’s well-established that when it comes to the top 10, law schools count like the Big Ten. 😉

    To be honest, I’ve served on the board at Duke Law, and there are a number of things we can do (and others are doing) to rather easily climb in the rankings. Because those things are really animcial to legal education Dean Levi won’t abide them. Just to be clear I am not remotely suggesting that UVA does any of those things — I vaguely recall some schools in particular, but not UVA.

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