An internal review of safety and security procedures within the University of Wisconsin Athletic Department identified recommendations for improvements but found no major deficiencies.

The report, ordered last February by athletic director Barry Alvarez, was a proactive study of department policies in the wake of the sexual assault convictions of a former Michigan State doctor.

There were no specific allegations that triggered the UW review, said Walter Dickey, the special assistant to the athletic director who led the examination.

But as a result of surveys and interviews with department staff and student-athletes, the committee that crafted the report suggested a number of changes involving the availability of mental-health services and safety in and around athletic facilities.

"We're certainly doing well but I would also say, as with all things, there are places where we can improve," Dickey said.

UW has taken steps to secure events with metal detectors at the Kohl Center and a clear bag policy at Camp Randall Stadium but needs to do more to secure its facilities at other times, Dickey said.

One of the recommendations was to repurpose welcome desks at athletics facilities "to include an element of safety in allowing access only to those who have need to be in the space."

"A lot of people said things about building security and about their concerns about building security such that I think we're going to have to make adjustments on several different fronts," Dickey said.

The UW-Madison Police Department agreed to review the safety of facilities under the control of the athletic department.

On the issue of reporting of wrongdoing or inappropriate behavior, "student-athletes in particular expressed comfort with reporting problems to people both inside and outside of their team."

But the report noted that some staff and many student-athletes didn't know where they were supposed to go with complaints of bias, harassment or assault.

The report recommended that the university's Title IX coordinator meets with each sport to detail campus resources and identify where student-athletes can make a complaint.

"Creating transparent processes that give a complainant multiple reporting options is important, so that student-athletes or staff members understand that they have options about how they report, should they choose to do so," the report reads.

The topic of safety of student-athletes under the care of coaches and medical staff has been elevated in recent years in part because of the revelation of a decades-long string of sexual assaults committed by former Michigan State and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

At Michigan State, officials have been accused of neglecting to protect student-athletes from Nassar.

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UW's review recommended that the athletic department make it a policy that two service providers are present when medical care is being provided at school facilities to guard against inappropriate treatment or behavior. Dickey said that's currently a practice at UW that probably needs to be elevated into an official policy.

The school also will further examine policies on medical treatment when student-athletes are away on road trips.

The report also suggested UW consider a policy of having at least one department employee present while student-athletes are receiving services from so-called peripheral providers such as licensed massage therapists, chiropractors and specialists.

"On the whole, we were very satisfied with what we found there," Dickey said of the department's medical policies.

Other recommendations included:

• To survey staff and student-athletes on whether mental-health services provided by the new Clinical & Sport Psychology Department are sufficient or more staffing is needed.

• To complete a transition to the athletic department employing all of its own athletic trainers instead of contracting with UW Hospitals and Clinics for some.

• To have staff members communicate the potential for the need for security involving situations related to "difficult conversations with student-athletes related to eligibility, team membership and financial aid." At least one such occurrence was reported by Athletics staff where there was a "potential threat to members of the office."

• To have coaches annually review road schedules with their sport administrator to determine whether there are games that might require additional traveling security or coordination with local law enforcement.

• To avoid using student van drivers for road trips when feasible and to have at least two staff members or coaches to assist with late-night driving and driver alertness.

• To consider a policy requiring at least one other person to be present during strength and conditioning training in department facilities.

UW said it has already implemented some of the recommendations and is in the process of implementing others.

"The health and safety of our student-athletes and staff are my top priority," Alvarez said in a statement. "I am both thankful that we have much already in place that addresses those needs and appreciative of the thoughtful recommendations the review has yielded. The bottom line is that this review will make Wisconsin Athletics better."

The report was originally scheduled to be completed last June, but Dickey said that timeline wasn't feasible.

"Better to be careful and do it completely than rush it and not feel like you've done the kind of job that people deserve," he said.

Ten people were directly involved with the review process: Dickey, Alvarez and director of student-athlete engagement Alando Tucker from Athletics; Claire Dalle Molle and Andrew Norman of UW-Madison's Office of Legal Affairs; professor Ann Sheehy of the UW-Madison School of Medicine; UW-Madison Police Chief Kristen Roman; professor Richard Davidson of the UW-Madison Department of Psychology and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds; UW System Regent Regina Millner; and Peter Miller, professor of Education and Athletic Board chair.


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