The university said it will ensure student activities are ‘appropriate’ after violations.
Youngstown State University said Friday it will consider new rules in light of a GateHouse Media investigation that found a YSU tennis player disciplined for sexual assault was placed as assistant coach on the women’s team.
The university said it will look into whether students readmitted to the school after conduct violations should be allowed to participate on sports teams and in other campus activities, it announced Friday in a statement.
“The university is reviewing the need to develop additional processes to ensure that the campus activities of students readmitted to the university are appropriate given the nature of their Code violation,” university spokesman Ron Cole said in a statement.
The statement comes a day after GateHouse Media revealed that former Youngstown State tennis player Bassem El Mekawi rejoined the team first as a player, then later as an assistant coach on the men’s and women’s teams, after being suspended by the university for sexual assault.
To Kathy Redmond, head of the National Coalition Against Violent Athletes, the university already should have had such rules. And its statement, she said, does not go far enough.
“They need to make their protocols and policies very clear,” Redmond said. “They need to have the input from the students and faculty to do it. They cannot do it in a vacuum.
“My hope is that they consider the safety of their students.”
El Mekawi was one of three Youngstown State athletes the university found responsible for sexual assault in 2016, records obtained by GateHouse Media show. Campus administrators began a conduct investigation after a female student reported two sexual assaults a year earlier, officials confirmed.
Youngstown State readmitted El Mekawi in 2017 after he completed a seven-month suspension and a Title IX training. He was reinstated to the tennis team upon his return. After playing his last collegiate season, he became an unpaid assistant coach of the men’s tennis team in fall 2018, and then the women’s tennis team in spring 2019.
El Mekawi also was hired as a paid intern in the Youngstown State athletics department the same school year. He is no longer affiliated with the university, officials confirmed.
The other two athletes, basketball player Sidney Umude and football player Sidney Sandidge, did not return to the school. Umude, who was expelled, transferred to Southern University and continued his basketball career.
Youngstown State allows students like El Mekawi who’ve been suspended or temporarily dismissed from school to reapply for admission after completing their sanctions.
The university’s review is examining whether those who’ve been readmitted after serious offenses like sexual assault should be allowed to participate in campus activities.
“Every student disciplinary case is different, and rarely does a case fit into a one-size-fits-all solution,” the statement says. “Moving forward, we are committed to ensuring a greater awareness and scrutiny of these particular kinds of situations.”