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Athletes are often admired for their training, dedication and discipline. On some campuses, the top players are superstars. But there’s a dark side to the world of sports, with a culture that can encourage violently macho behavior and then insulate athletes from accusations involving and even convictions of sexual assault. Rarely a year goes by on any level of sports — youth, high school, college and professional — without a community, school or league that's affected by sexual assault cases involving athletes.
Male student-athletes make up just 3 percent of the male college population but commit almost 1 in 5 sexual assaults on campuses, according to data compiled by researchers Jeff Benedict and Todd Crosset almost 20 years ago, and that remains the only study done on sexual assault in college athletics. Since then, public awareness around sexual assault in athletics has grown more intense, with almost 60 percent of Americans believing college athletes are treated differently when they are accused of sexual assault, according to a recent HBO Real Sports/Marist poll.
With the national conversation on sexual assault in sports reaching new heights, America Tonight presents a special broadcast and digital series examining different layers of the issue.
Jameis Winston could be the highest-drafted player in NFL history to be publicly accused of rape; what does it mean?
Baine Kerr, one of the lead attorneys for the accuser in the Jameis Winston case, speaks on sexual assault in sports
A pioneer in the issue of sexual assault in sports, the kicker acknowledges the challenges ahead to change the culture
Some athletes linked to sexual assault allegations have gotten second chances to play at other universities
Why do sexually-linked crimes keep happening in college athletes?
Nine things you may not have known about college sexual assault, according to an insurance company