USA TODAY asked more than 100 of the nation’s top public universities for data showing how they handled sexual misconduct complaints under the landmark federal law known as Title IX.
Six of those schools refused to provide it.
They shared no information about the number of sexual misconduct complaints they investigated, how many students they found responsible or what types of sanctions they issued to those students.
They opted to leave the public in the dark about their track record of complying with a key mandate under Title IX, which turned 50 years old this summer. The law is supposed to ensure students’ right to an education free from sexual harassment and gendered violence. It put the onus on colleges to build robust systems for investigating allegations, protecting complainants and disciplining perpetrators.
(You can read more below about our efforts to get the data from each of those six schools.)
Read the full investigation:Despite men’s rights claims, colleges expel few sexual misconduct offenders while survivors suffer
How USA TODAY got data from other schools
Absent a federal mandate to publicly report such Title IX data, USA TODAY endeavored to collect it from 107 public universities that compete in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision, the highest echelon of college sports. These represent some of the biggest and most well-known schools in the nation.
While some schools provided the information willingly within days or weeks, others took months or more than a year. When schools declined to provide the data voluntarily, USA TODAY filed public records requests, which compelled most holdout schools to disclose data that was at least partially responsive.
See the data:How many students did your university suspend or expel for sexual misconduct under Title IX?
Ultimately, 56 schools provided information that allowed USA TODAY to do a first-of-its-kind analysis on Title IX case outcomes, while dozens of others schools provided data covering a partial timeframe. It revealed that the 56 universities, on average, suspended 2.8 students for sexual misconduct each year and expelled 1.5.
Their average enrollment? 34,600 students.
Schools are reluctant to provide data to the government, too
Catherine Lhamon, head of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which enforces the law, said agency officials experience similar challenges when they request case outcome data from schools they investigate for possible Title IX violations.
“The experience you described of school communities reluctant to share information that disclose the ways that they are following the law and satisfying students’ rights is unfortunately all too frequently our experience, as well,” Lhamon told USA TODAY. “And that can be one reason that investigations can take longer than we would welcome.”
Here’s how each of the six universities that refused to provide any data responded to USA TODAY’s requests:
1. Auburn University
USA TODAY emailed questions to Mike Clardy, Auburn’s assistant vice president for communications, in April 2021. He did not respond. A subsequent email to Clardy and two other Auburn communications officials that June also went unreturned. As did additional emails to Auburn President Chris Roberts, Title IX coordinator Kelley Taylor, vice presidents Kelli Shomaker and John Morris, and Clardy in June and July 2022.
The news organization filed a public records request for the information in June 2021. Auburn’s records office denied the request, saying it was not “able to locate any existing responsive records.” That office did not respond to a subsequent request in September 2021 seeking annual reports containing the information. It denied a third records request this October for only the sanction information, saying it could release it at its “discretion” but chose not to.
2. Ball State University
Kathy Wolf, Ball State’s then-vice president of communications, declined to answer USA TODAY’s questions in June 2021, saying the university did not possess a record with the requested information and was not obligated by law to create one. Asked to provide information for a partial time period, Wolf replied that gathering and preparing the information would take “significant time” due to “past recordkeeping practices.” It would require a “tedious review of hard copy files,” Wolf said, and Ball State was “not in the position to reallocate the time of a Title IX team member to perform such a task.” Ball State officials, including general counsel Sali Falling and Title IX coordinator Katie Slabaugh, declined a third request in June 2022.
Ball State’s public records office declined a request for only the sanction information in July 2021, citing the same reasons.
More:Marshall University announces search for new Title IX coordinator after USA TODAY investigation
3. Florida International University
Madeline Baró, Florida International’s media relations director, declined to answer USA TODAY’s questions in June 2021. Six weeks and two follow-up emails later, Baró said gathering and reviewing the information would take up to 30 hours, at a cost to the news organization of up to $1,056. USA TODAY offered to narrow the scope of the request to reduce the cost and asked Baró if a shorter timeframe would be more reasonable. Baró said she would check but never responded. Subsequent emails in June and July 2022 were ignored.
USA TODAY filed a public records request for only the sanction information in August. The university’s general counsel’s office acknowledged the request but never provided any information. It ignored a follow-up email in October 2022.
4. University of Georgia
USA TODAY emailed questions to Gregory Trevor, Georgia’s associate vice president for communications, in April 2021. He did not respond. Trevor and two other communications officials, Sara Freeland and James Hataway, ignored a subsequent email in June 2021. Subsequent emails to Trevor, Hataway and two more communications officials, Kathy Pharr and Rod Guajardo, in June and July 2022 were also ignored.
The news organization filed a public records request for the information in June 2021. Georgia’s open records office declined the request that July, saying it was not required to create records that do not exist. USA TODAY filed another request later that month for only the sanction information over a partial time period, 2016 to present. The office said gathering and reviewing the records would take more than 200 hours of staff time and it would charge $7,590 to complete the task.
5. University of Memphis
Chuck Gallina, Memphis’ media and public relations director, ignored numerous emails requesting the information, including two in June 2021 and one in July 2021. In June 2022, USA TODAY requested the information again in an email to Gallina and executive vice president for university relations Tammy Hedges, her assistant Jude Knight, and communications specialist Trent Shadid. Gallina said they were “working on the information” but never responded again, including in response to follow-up emails that August and November.
A USA TODAY Network reporter based in Tennessee also emailed Gallina and then-Title IX coordinator Tiffany Baker Cox seeking the information but never received a response. The reporter filed a public records request for the information in July 2021, to which Memphis provided contemporaneous emails and snapshots of case data from years earlier, none of which was responsive to USA TODAY’s request.
6. University of Nevada, Reno
Scott Walquist, Nevada’s communications director, told USA TODAY three times in June and July 2021 that the Title IX office was working to gather the information. Natalie Fry, a communications officer, then told the news organization in July that the Title IX office did have the information “on hand” and did not “have the resources to gather the information at this time.” USA TODAY asked Walquist, Fry and another communications official for the information again in June 2022. Although Walquist said that the Title IX office was working to gather the information, he wrote back in August saying the university was unable to “dedicate the people-hours needed” to do so.
USA TODAY filed a public records request in August 2022 seeking only the sanction information. Nevada’s public records office responded that the university was not required to create records that did not already exist, and that even if they did exist, it would not provide them because they are “confidential.”
Kenny Jacoby is an investigative reporter for USA TODAY covering Title IX and campus sexual misconduct. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @kennyjacoby.