Win at all costs: football player status and its influence on public support of school punishment

Many universities have inconsistent policies regarding how to discipline athletes involved in sexual assault cases. Given the high amount of media coverage on this issue, it is important to examine the public's opinion of how athletes should be disciplined by their schools. 499 participants completed an online survey in which they read a vignette about a collegiate football player involved in a sexual assault case. The vignette varied the player's status on the team and his stage in the criminal justice process (SOCJ). The study conformed to a 2 (star player vs. back-up player) x 3 (accused vs. arrested vs. convicted). It was hypothesized that the star player who was accused of sexual assault would receive support for no suspension. The results did not support this hypothesis. The effects of SOCJ and gender both exhibited a significant main effect.