MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - University of Minnesota basketball player Reggie Lynch has been suspended until at least 2020 following a school investigation into an alleged sexual assault of a woman in his dorm room in April 2016. Athletics director Mark Coyle confirmed the suspension Friday and said Lynch would not play for the Gophers while this process, including any appeal, plays out.
Coyle clarified that Lynch is suspended from athletic competition, but can still practice with the team and have access to the same medical and training resources and academic support as his fellow student-athletes. At Friday morning’s press conference, Coyle said it was ultimately his decision to suspend Lynch.
"It's a decision I made today," Coyle said. "I involved Coach Pitino."
Gophers head coach Richard Pitino said he doesn’t believe there is a culture problem on his team, and that there were no red flags when recruiting Lynch, an Edina native who transferred to Minnesota from Illinois State.
Coyle and Pitino could not answer many of the questions they faced, saying that all University of Minnesota students are covered by the same policies and process -- Coyle adding, “it’s important that we follow that process.” Coyle referenced the policy and process that is available on the university’s website, and an excerpt of that policy can be found below.
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA SEXUAL VIOLENCE INVESTIGATION PROCESS
The University’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) thoroughly investigates, as a neutral party, reports of sexual harassment and sexual violence, including sexual assault, stalking, and relationship violence.
Typical steps in a formal investigation include:
- talking with the person raising the concerns and/or other affected persons;
- talking with individuals with information relevant to the situation;
- informing responsible administrators about the concerns and investigation;
- talking with the accused person; and
- collecting and reviewing documents or other forms of information from the person raising the concerns, witnesses, Human Resources, administrators, or other individuals with relevant information.
At the conclusion of a formal investigation, EOAA will prepare a summary and analysis of the investigation and make a conclusion as to whether the Student Conduct Code and University policies against sexual harassment and sexual violence have been violated. EOAA will forward the report to OSCAI. Both the reporting student and the accused student may request a copy of the EOAA report from OSCAI.
As part of the University’s informal resolution process, OSCAI will inform both the reporting party and the accused student about: (1) the outcome of the EOAA investigation; and (2) a proposed resolution. If both parties agree to the outcome and proposed resolution, the University’s investigative process generally is concluded.
If the reporting party or the accused student disagrees with EOAA’s investigative outcome and OSCAI’s proposed resolution they may initiate the University’s formal resolution process. In this formal process, the parties are afforded a hearing before a panel drawn from the Campus Committee on Student Behavior.
In May 2016, Lynch was arrested for a separate sexual assault allegation involving a 19-year-old woman. The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office reviewed the case for criminal charges and determined there was not enough evidence to prove a crime was committed. Lynch had been suspended since his arrest in May, but did not face any additional discipline following a university investigation.
The University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents approved a new policy in December that will require all university employees to report sexual harassment involving students. Before the change, only supervisors and employees of authority could inform the university about reports of sexual misconduct. The new policy took effect January 1.
According to a 2015 report from the Association of American Universities, more than 23 percent of University of Minnesota Twin Cities female undergrads reported experiencing sexual assault. More than 47 percent dealt with sexual harassment and among those who experienced sexual assault, 25 percent of people reported it.
Though some critics say that the new policy may actually deter students from coming forward if they know a report would have to be filed with the university.