23 November, 2021

Milligan Takes Steps to Support, Protect Student-Athletes

by | 12 October, 2021 | 0 comments

Milligan University athletic director Christian Pope announced a series of initiatives to bolster the well-being of student-athletes at the Tennessee institution.

Those initiatives will include designating a senior woman administrator for athletics (to promote meaningful representation of women in the leadership and management of athletics at Milligan) and adding an assistant track and field coach dedicated to the women’s team, one of the largest at the school.


Additionally, Milligan athletics will partner with the U.S. Center for Safe Sport to provide mandatory training for all staff on recognizing and responding to signs of emotional, physical, and sexual misconduct, the school announced at its website. Coaches and athletes also will participate in the Mental Health First Aid national program to learn to identify and respond to the signs of mental illness.

Pope—who started in his position on June 28—explained that some of the initiatives have been in development for several months and many address concerns recently raised regarding Milligan’s athletic program.

In late August, Milligan University tweeted that a former student-athlete had “publicly alleged misconduct by one of our coaches and faulted Milligan and USA Track & Field for not acting upon those accusations.” Milligan said it took the report seriously, cooperated in a third-party investigation of the matter, and “as a result of the investigation into these allegations . . . we are confident in our coach’s ability to continue carrying out his role as head coach as he has done for 24 years.”

“The rigors of the physical and mental challenges of college athletics are daunting,” athletic director Pope said in last week’s website announcement. Pope has been assessing compliance and internal procedures, as well as meeting with Milligan athletic teams, athletes, and coaching staff. “We want to better equip our staff to support and serve the needs of our student-athletes in all avenues.”

“This ensures we are effectively monitoring our programs and educating those with oversight responsibilities in those areas,” he said. “Being able to recognize the needs of our athletes and provide access to the help they need is critical . . .”

The university also announced Pope has secured partnerships with several local health-care professionals in forming a medical advisory group to supplement Milligan’s sports medicine staff, and it has formalized an existing partnership with the Center of Excellence in Sports Science at East Tennessee State University. The goal is better assessment, care, and recovery for injured athletes.

A Student-Athlete Advisory Committee also is planned that will give athletes more of a voice.

“We have a duty to care for and nurture every student-athlete,” said Pope. “At Milligan, we endeavor to exceed their expectations.”

Milligan has 31 intercollegiate sports that compete in the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

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Christian Standard

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