Sexual Violence Reporting Among College Athletes

The aim of this study is to improve the process and support when reporting on student athletes who experience sexual violence.

Executive Summary

Drs. Alice Ellyson, Avanti Adhia, and Emily Kroshus at the University of Washington are collaborating with colleagues at the NCAA SSI to:

1 – Identify college athlete preferences for sexual violence reporting mechanisms and to quantify trade-offs facing athletes in the reporting decision.

2 – Provide guidance on the feasibility of implementing policies that may improve sexual violence reporting. This study complements ongoing efforts by the NCAA SSI to disseminate evidence-based practices on sexual violence prevention to partner institutions. This study has received institutional review board approval [UW IRB: STUDY00011618 (approved)].

Study Overview: College athletes face similarly high rates of sexual violence as their non-athlete peers. Disclosing sexual violence is costly to survivors, and little is known about the trade-offs that are considered in the disclosure decision. Student athletes at participating institutions will voluntarily provide their preferences on institutional reporting options and prevention programming for sexual violence through a discrete choice survey. Student athletes who voluntarily participate will be compensated $10 for their time. Administrators and athletic personnel at participating institutions will provide input and feedback on SV prevention efforts and will receive aggregated data from the responses of their student athletes to guide their institutional efforts.

Funding Award: Drs. Alice Ellyson and Avanti Adhia were awarded funding as part of an Exploratory Research Project administered by the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center at the University of Washington and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [R49CE003087: Injury and Health Equity Across the Lifespan (PI: Vavilala)] to cover direct costs of the study.


Study Team

Co-Principal Investigator

Alice M. Ellyson, MS, PhD

Dr. Ellyson is a Research Economist based in the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Dr. Ellyson specializes in interpersonal violence and health risk behaviors among adolescents and young adults by applying rigorous quasi-experimental econometric methods and health economic methodologies to evaluate the effectiveness and quantify the trade-offs for various public and health policies on violence and health risk behaviors.


Co-Principal Investigator

Avanti Adhia, ScD

Dr. Adhia’s research focuses on the prevention of adolescent intimate partner and sexual violence by understanding the causes and consequences in addition to the role of policies and interventions in preventing and reducing violence. Dr. Adhia has experience conducting epidemiologic research on violence using primary and secondary data and experience in evaluation research. She also served as a rape crisis hotline counselor for several years.

Co-Investigator & Athletics Advisor

Emily Kroshus, ScD, MPH

Dr. Kroshus is a Research Associate Professor at University of Washington, Department of Pediatrics, and is based in the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Her work, drawing from literatures in social and behavioral sciences, communication science, and social epidemiology, focuses on translational health communication, with a particular emphasis on concussion and mental health help seeking in youth, adolescent and young adult sport. A focus of her work is identifying social and contextual determinants of help seeking behaviors, with an overarching interest in addressing disparities related to gender, race, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. Prior to coming to University of Washington, Dr. Kroshus was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the NCAA where she conducted applied research and contributed to program development related to concussion and mental health in college sport settings.

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Study Background:
The NCAA Sexual Assault Task Force convened in 2015 to provide clear direction on curriculum that will help athletic departments engage in education, collaboration, and compliance surrounding sexual violence issues. The following year, in 2016, the NCAA Board of Governors created the Commission to Combat Campus Sexual Violence to proactively examine issues and propose solutions to address sexual violence and achieve positive cultural change.

As part of these efforts, the NCAA Sports Science Institute released the first edition of the Sexual Violence Prevention Toolkit in 2016, and the second edition in 2019. In 2020, the Sports Science Institute committed to collaborating with researchers at the University of Washington to further advance our commitment to eradicating sexual violence by exploring the reporting option preferences of our student athletes.

Learn more about the NCAA SSI’s ongoing efforts with sexual violence prevention >>