Hockey Task Force Finishes Review, Determines the Culture Detrimental

After concluding its extensive review and analysis, the Boston University men’s ice hockey task force has determined that a “culture of sexual entitlement exists among some players on the men’s ice hockey team,” amongst other shortcomings. The findings of the assessment were reported in a letter by university President Robert A. Brown on September 5, six months after he formed the task force, which included several professors and trustees from the Law School, the School of Public Health, and College of Communication.

The task force was brought together in the wake of the arrests of former BU hockey players Corey Trivino and Max Nicastro on sexual assault charges. Both cases have since been settled, with Trivino being put on probation after pleading guilty to a charge of assault and battery and charges against Nicastro being dropped during the summer. During the report, Brown made it a point to stress that these incidents, although the catalysts for the task force, were not to be re-assessed.

In a March 7 letter to task force members, which is recited in the recent report, Brown instructed the group to determine if the “inherent aspects of the program’s culture and climate could have helped to foster the actions that led to the criminal charges.” Brown also tasked them to not only look at the sexual assaults, but also at academic quality, student life issues, and the disciplinary history of this select group of athletes. In addition, he encouraged them to work with students and other faculty members, which is what led to the establishment of a website to which comments could be sent and to two open forums on the subject in April.

BU men's ice hockey. | Photo courtesy of Marcusvfx via Wikimedia Commons

In turn, after six months, the task force came to several conclusions that key on the fact that the structures in place allow for the “failing to achieve the full level and quality of oversight of the men’s ice hockey program that is expected and appropriate at a major university.” They included, but were not limited to the aforementioned cultural entitlement, the “absence of a few routine, transparent, and systematic processes that would establish clear expectations for players’ behavior,” and an underperforming academic record. Furthermore, the report found that there were no NCAA violations amongst these findings.

Nevertheless, a recent report from the Boston Globe brought a different light to the task force’s discoveries. In said article, several interviewees described a late night party at Agganis Arena involving “kegs in the locker room” and “sex in the penalty box.” Additionally, the interviews quoted in the article gave light to the team members’ interactions with women and in the classroom. This information, an exclusive for the Globe, lent additional evidence to the image of the Hockey team.

The letter ended with a list of recommendations, including that the University provide care and counseling for victims (a center which currently exists), that members of the men’s hockey team attend sexual assault prevention training annually, and that student athletes should not be able to attend the Metropolitan College.

The University is making an important effort to change the culture and the academic and social expectations of the men’s hockey team. The report and the task force itself represent a step in the right direction, but what happens next is where their legacy will be determined.

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