After a damning federal investigation revealed the University of Maryland, Baltimore County failed to stop a swim coach from sexually abusing students, the university system announced it would revamp policies at all of its campuses.

The United States Department of Justice investigation released Monday found that UMBC allowed Chad Cradock, who coached the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams, “to do as he pleased without consequence, including engaging in physical sexual assaults” against students between 2015 and 2020. Cradock died by suicide in 2021.

The DOJ found that the university violated Title IX, the law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in education. UMBC President Valerie Sheares Ashby wrote in an email to the community that the institution would be signing and publicly releasing an agreement that will specify how the school will change the way it responds to reports of sexual misconduct and discrimination.

In the meantime, the University System of Maryland is beginning a systemwide review of the way it enforces Title IX, according to a statement released Monday.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Colleges often have an office or staff members devoted to preventing sexual harassment, assault and misconduct, which are among the forms of discrimination Title IX prohibits. The staff may also investigate complaints.

The Title IX staffing and structure varies among Maryland’s 12 campuses. The university system said in its statement that there are already mechanisms in place for effective and transparent Title IX enforcement, but it has created two working groups to “audit and optimize” those functions.

The first group will speak with experts outside the university system to advise the board of regents and university leaders on “best-in-class practices governing Title IX education and management.” That includes advice on office structure, staffing and resourcing. They’ll also seek experts’ opinions on “policies and procedures guiding reporting, investigation, and adjudication,” as well as tips on Title IX education for students and training for faculty and staff.

Each university must secure an independent audit of its Title IX functions. Based on the audit findings, the first working group will assess how well the universities’ Title IX operations align with best practices.

The second group is responsible for assessing policies that guide how and when university leaders report sexual misconduct and will recommend improvements. The DOJ was critical of UMBC responding to allegations slowly or not at all. There were allegations as early as 2015 that resulted in no consequences for Cradock. When UMBC did hire a third party to investigate, the report was “overly narrow in scope” and delayed in its completion, according to DOJ.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“The goal of these groups isn’t merely to prevent the mishandling of Title IX complaints and ensure accountability,” the University System of Maryland statement read. “It’s to optimize Title IX operations on every campus — and to be transparent as we go about it — so that we can be confident we’re protecting from harm the students, staff, and faculty who have placed their trust in us.”

A spokesperson for the system declined a request for interviews with the USM chancellor and the board of regents.

“We acknowledge UMBC’s cooperation with the DOJ throughout the investigation and the decisive actions the university has taken over the past 18 months to improve its Title IX operations,” the statement from University System of Maryland read.

According to Ashby’s Monday email, she has already created a new role called the vice president of institutional equity and civil rights and changed the athletic department’s structure, governance and reporting mechanisms. The athletic director reports directly to her.

UMBC officials declined a request for an interview with Sheares Ashby.