Higher Education Quick Takes
Wheaton College, the evangelical Christian college in Illinois, has filed suit again over the Affordable Care Act's requirement that employer-provided health plans cover contraception -- including emergency contraception -- at no charge to consumers, which took effect Wednesday. While church-affiliated employers, including Roman Catholic and some Protestant colleges, have an additional year to comply with the requirement, Wheaton does not qualify for the temporary reprieve, said the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Wheaton is excluded because its health plans already cover some forms of birth control; the college's objection is to the emergency contraception requirement, since it believes those pills can prevent a human embryo from implanting.
The Becket Fund filed a motion on Whetaon's behalf Wednesday for a preliminary injunction against the law.
Ralph Wager, a former soccer coach at Catawba College, has been indicated on charges of sexually abusing a boy in 1987 and 1989, when the alleged victim was 9 and 11 years old and was involved in a sports activity on the campus, The Charlotte Observer reported. Authorities believe that some of the abuse took place in a house and office on the campus, and that college officials at the time responded by restricting Wager's access to a pool. The college is conducting an investigation of what happened.
The football and men’s basketball teams at the University of Central Florida will have to sit out the upcoming postseason, the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced Tuesday, as the Committee on Infractions cited the university for lacking institutional control and failing to monitor its sports program, by allowing impermissible recruiting activities and extra benefits for athletes. The NCAA's decision comes just two years after the association punished Central Florida for recruiting violations by former athletics officials.
At issue was “an ever-increasing problem in intercollegiate athletics today,” the committee said in its public infractions report. Third parties, “who through their activity became athletics representatives of UCF,” had significant unallowable telephone and in-person recruiting contact with men’s basketball and football athletes, the committee said. Further, one representative provided prospects and current athletes with $16,000 in cash payments, travel expenses, tuition and a laptop computer. The committee also found unethical conduct on the part of the former athletics director and assistant football coach, who “knowingly provided false and misleading information” in interviews with NCAA enforcement officials. Athletic department employees not only knew about the recruiting violations, the committee said – “in some cases” they “encouraged” it. The same third parties also received benefits and favors from the program, including event tickets. The failure to monitor charge stems from the men’s basketball coach’s neglect to stop or discourage and report the violations.
The NCAA’s penalties add to a number of self-imposed sanctions, including vacation of men’s basketball wins from 2008-9, and a reduction in recruiting days and official paid visits. Other sanctions include a $50,000 fine, five years’ probation, scholarship reductions in football and men’s basketball, and three-year show-cause orders for the former athletics director and two coaches, meaning that if they move to another institution the penalties will follow them there unless the college can show the NCAA why they shouldn’t apply.
In the wake of a federal investigation, Xavier University in Ohio has agreed to reform its procedures for dealing with complaints of sexual harassment and assault, Cincinnati.com reported. The investigation was prompted by complaints from two female students who said that a male student was twice allowed to stay on campus after being found responsible for sexual assaults. Another student charged that Xavier did not treat her fairly when she filed a complaint about sexual harassment and stalking.
Officials at California State University and the California Faculty Association announced Tuesday that they had reached a tentative agreement on a new contract that will preserve current terms and will not lead to any salary increases. The contract, which will now have to be ratified by the university’s board of trustees and CFA members, is valid through June 2014. The new contract leaves open the possibility of more salary negotiations in the next two years. Union leaders hailed the new agreement because it preserved salaries and benefits amidst deep budget cuts in the state. The new contract comes after two years of bruising talks between the two sides, and included a vote by CFA members earlier this year to authorize strikes if disputes over the contract were not resolved. The union represents 23,000 faculty members, coaches, counselors and librarians across 23 campuses in the state.
Most for-profits operating in California have been deemed ineligible to participate in Cal Grants, the state's generous need-based financial aid program. The California Student Aid Commission on Tuesday released a list of 154 ineligible institutions or branch campuses, 137 of which are for-profits, including the University of Phoenix. The rest are mostly small, private religious institutions. The program's rules were tightened to save money amid California's budget crisis, and were drafted in such a way that they were aimed specifically at for-profits. For example, they apply only to colleges where more than 40 percent of students take out loans. That effectively exempts community colleges, which don't charge enough in tuition for federal loans to be a major issue.
An article in Education Week highlights the practice of some big-time university athletics programs recruiting middle school athletes. Recruits can't commit to a university until the fall of senior year, but the article noted the view that those teams that make offers early -- years before one could commit -- may have an edge in the eventual decision. Many high school coaches object to the practice.
A 16-year-old has admitted to taking entry exams under the names of others seeking to get into Piedmont Technical College, in South Carolina, WYFF4 News reported. The youth was paid $150 per test. In addition, authorities said that they believed a proctor had been helping students pass entry exams so they could become eligible for Pell Grants. The proctor was fired last year. The college asked federal officials to investigate at that time, having found what it considered irregularities in its use of Pell Grants.
Students estimate they spend $655 annually on required course materials, down from $667 two years ago and $702 four years ago, according to a study released by the National Association of College Stores. Officials attributed the decline to the wider availability of options like renting textbooks.