Dakota Student

Set the Expectation

Founder of “#SetTheExpectation” Brenda Tracy helps UND athletes take the pledge

Members of the UND soccer team recently signed certificates for the 'Set The Expectation' pledge, which states that sexual assault and physical violence are never acceptable.

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Members of the UND soccer team recently signed certificates for the 'Set The Expectation' pledge, which states that sexual assault and physical violence are never acceptable.

Madison Overby, Sports Writer

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On Tuesday, February 6, University of North Dakota student-athletes filed into the ballroom at the Memorial Union for the spring all student-athlete speaker. Groans and eye rolls were apparent throughout the room. The all-athlete speakers are normally not something that everyone looks forward to.  

Brenda Tracy walked on stage and addressed the audience right away.   

“I know this isn’t where everyone wants to be right now,” Tracy said. “But listen up because I’ll try to keep it as short as possible and what I have to say is important.” 

As the group silenced, she began to tell her story. 

Tracy was the victim of a horrific gang rape carried out by four men in June of 1998. Three of the men were collegiate football athletes, two of whom played on the Oregon State football team. 

When Tracy attempted to bring the case to court, she was falsely told by her attorney that she had no case. The men were going to walk without charges and she was going to end up paying a lot of money for nothing. So she dropped the charges. 

The men were allowed to go free, the two Oregon State football players were dealt a one game suspension from head coach Mike Riley. Riley was quoted saying that the two men were “good guys who made a bad choice.” 

However, when Tracy started talking publicly about the sexual assault she met up with Mike Riley again. He apologized to her personally and then asked her to speak to his current team at the University of Nebraska.  

In an article written by John Canzano for The Oregonian, Mike Riley called to comment on Tracy’s story.  

“It’s so sad to me that it still haunts her. It’s scary what that means to a lady,” Riley said. “Maybe retribution would have helped that. I don’t know. I just reminded our team here recently about those things that will change their life and others in a blink of an eye.” 

Riley also commented in The Oregonian about his process following alleged crimes from players on his teams and what he’s learned over the years from both the game and Brenda Tracy.  

“What I hope I’ve learned through the years is ‘What are we really doing here?’” Riley said. “There are deals, you have to look at it case by case, and gather information. I don’t necessarily think you have to wait for the courts to say ‘guilty’ when you’re talking about guns, when you’re talking about abuse of women, when you’re talking about assault, DUI, drugs and you usually know enough to know that these guys have disrespected the program.” 

At UND, Tracy turned to the male student-athletes. 

“I’m looking at the males in the room,” Tracy said. “Not because you’re the problem but because you’re the solution.”  

Every one of the student-athletes in the room took a pledge, with Brenda Tracy’s guidance, to be part of the solution. A pledge to not be a bystander in an issue as big as sexual assault. And finally, a pledge to stand up for anyone who may be in a compromising position and set the expectation. 

Madison Overby is a sports writer for Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].

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