When Cal Poly dismissed women’s volleyball coach Jon Stevenson in September following allegations of sexual harassment, the university was criticized for not acting more than a year earlier — when it first received the university’s investigative report into the allegations.
In an interview with The Tribune Editorial Board on Thursday, Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong was asked if he would have acted more swiftly.
“I would have made a different decision, and I don’t mind saying that, but I want to be sensitive to my predecessors,’’ Armstrong said, later adding, “If I were presented with that situation today we would act swiftly.’’
Although procedures were followed properly at the time, he said, Cal Poly officials made “what later turned out to be a bad call.’’
Armstrong also said, when asked, that he would have put the investigative report in Stevenson’s personnel file. Cal Poly instead put the documents in a sealed envelope in the athletic director’s office.
“It would have gone into the personnel file,” Armstrong said, “because we owe it to everyone to be transparent, but also within the confines of a personnel matter.’’
Cal Poly replaced Stevenson in September. New Athletic Director Don Oberhelman determined that the coach should no longer lead the Mustangs, noting that his decision was based on his lack of confidence in Stevenson’s leadership.
The investigative report, dated April 6, 2010, found it more likely than not that Stevenson engaged in conduct outlined in 12 separate allegations and concluded that his conduct was unprofessional. But the report found it a close call as to whether his overall conduct “was severe or pervasive enough to create an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.’’
After receiving the report, then-Cal Poly Athletic Director Alison Cone recommended to Provost Bob Koob that Stevenson remain as coach, subject to meeting a list of limitations on his contact and interaction with players. Koob agreed.
Asked if Cal Poly has received or is currently investigating sexual harassment or bullying complaints about coaches, staff, administrators or faculty, university attorney Carlos Cordova said: “Internal investigations that might be going on related to bullying or sexual harassment are personnel matters and, therefore, we don’t comment on whether or not we have any ongoing investigations.”
Cal Poly Police Chief Bill Watton said his department has no ongoing investigations dealing with sexual harassment or sexual assault.