It’s no secret that Matt Rhule took over an incredibly adverse situation at Baylor, as the program has been mired in sexual assault allegations. It’s a cloud that won’t go away quietly any time soon, and Rhule has acknowledged that publicly.
This morning, in a piece released by ESPN, Rhule opened up and explained how he’s handling the issues he’s inherited, and shared one thing in particular that coaches need to hear about our choice of words when some of us talk to players about sexual assault.
From the article:
“So often football coaches say, ‘Of course, I’m against rape. I have two young girls.’ To me, it’s not just the fact that I have girls in my life is why I don’t believe in rape,” Rhule explained.
“When you communicate like that with football players or any young people, they begin, in my mind, to differentiate between women they know and love and women who they don’t know, and then they don’t place any value on them.”
Rhule also explains how he sends out a text to players as the weekend approaches, usually every Thursday or Friday, as a reminder to be respectful towards females, and his expectations for their behavior away from the field, noting that he chooses to do that not because he’s at Baylor, but because he’s dealing with college-aged kids and he feels the same sense of responsibility he would for his own son.
Something Rhule calls “affirmative consent” is also being stressed to Baylor players, the article points out.
“With a lot of kids, that’s not intuitive to them at first. It’s, ‘Hey, she didn’t say no.’ No, we believe in affirmative consent. Did she say yes at every point along the way? Did she verbally say it to you? Did she lovingly say it to you? I think it’s really about educating them about consent and about alcohol and drugs and their ability to affect consent.”
Head here to read more from the ESPN piece, including some more specific strategies on how Rhule is confronting his players about the topics of sex and consent. It is a really important read for coaches and leaders of young people everywhere.