Second Title IX letter to U.F. in six months raises questions

The University of Florida has received two Title IX complaints in recent months.

The University of Florida has received a second Title IX complaint letter from the U.S. Department of Education.

The July 28 letter comes barely six months after a similar letter dated January 20. The Tampa Bay Times reported the earlier letter pertained to the sexual assault case against Florida Gators football star Antonio Callaway.

A female student had accused Callaway of assaulting her in late 2015; the case was decided in Callaway’s favor in August 2016. It’s not clear who or what sparked the most recent letter – the lawyer representing Callaway didn’t respond to inquiries from First Coast News on Wednesday and the attorney for the accuser said he had filed no further complaints to the D.O.E.

We spoke with Nancy Hogshead-Makar, whose Jacksonville-based organization Champion Women advocates for Girls and Women in Sports. She said a Title IX complaint at a school as large as U.F. isn’t much of a surprise, but a second in roughly six months raises an eyebrow.

“The fact that they have two so close together is a bit unusual,” Hogshead-Makar said.

Hogshead-Makar, who earned a gold medal in swimming at the 1984 Olympics, said that the letters notwithstanding, University of Florida has plenty of Title IX issues on its hands.

“There’s a lot of smoke over at U.F.,” she said.

Part of that, she added, is the choice of who would preside over the Callaway case. The original adjudicator, Chris Loschiavo, had a personal connection to the attorney of Callaway’s accuser. Loschiavo was replaced with Jacksonville-based attorney John Schickel, who is a U.F. alumnus and football program donor.

“Now, instead of going with a true neutral,” Hogshead-Makar contested, “the school instead went with somebody who is really associated not just with the University - which they were - but also with, specifically, the football program.”

“Somebody with that much of a conflict of interest with University of Florida would have been disqualified as a judge,” she continued, “so why should they be admitted to be able to be an arbitrator?”

Hogshead-Makar said U.F. is “woefully out of [Title IX] compliance”.

“They need to add about 150 female athletes, which is, depending on the type of sport that they pick, that’s anywhere between three and eight teams that they need to add.”

Plus, she added, $1.5 million scholarship disparity favoring male athletes. Hogshead-Makar said the trend at the University of Florida bears out a parallel pattern at schools in similar situations.

“The schools that are really out of compliance with athletics also to be discriminating against women when it comes to how it is that they resolve sexual assault complaints,” she asserted.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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