The lawsuit brought against the University of Tennessee by eight women over alleged sexual assaults committed by football players at the school has been settled for $2.48 million. The suit alleged that the school had created a "hostile sexual environment" that favored student-athletes.
Along with the payment, the school will also create a special independent commission that will review all responses to sexual assault allegations that take place within the University of Tennessee system as a part of the settlement, according to The Tennesseean.
UT also must allocate $700,000 this year to create six new positions in the Title IX office. Furthermore, it can no longer provide student-athletes with a list of attorneys to call in the event of misconduct; rather, the school must refer athletes seeking an attorney to the local bar association.
On the other side of the agreement, the plaintiffs will withdraw the two complaints filed against the school with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights in 2015 over the school's handling of sexual assault allegations. It is unknown whether the ongoing probe into potential Title IX violations will end as a result of the withdrawal of those complaints.
The settlement does not constitute an admission of "guilt, negligence or unlawful acts" by the university and will prevent football coach Butch Jones, athletic director Dave Hart and other athletic department staffers from being deposed in a trial.
In a sworn affidavit filed with the lawsuit, former player Drae Bowles claimed that Jones once called him a "traitor" for assisting a victim, a claim Jones vehemently denied. The lawsuit also alleged that Bowles was targeted, harassed and at one point jumped by teammates.
The cost of the settlement will be split evenly between the university's central administration and the athletic department and will not use any tuition, fees or taxpayer funds, according to The Tennesseean.