Auburn extended an invitation and Brenda Tracy accepted.
Tracy, who survived an alleged gang-rape in 1998 involving four men — two Oregon State football players — on the Oregon State campus, will travel to the Plains to address the Auburn football team Oct. 11.
“I think they’re just hoping maybe to raise awareness and talk about a subject that’s really important,” Tracy said. “We’re seeing this a lot and talking about this a lot, so it’s a very timely issue.”
Tracy’s visit comes after a sexual assault scandal hit Baylor University this year. An independent investigation found that the university failed to take appropriate action for multiple sexual assault allegations. The incidents led to the exits of several athletic department employees, including head coach Art Briles and athletic director Ian McCaw. Kenneth Starr stepped down as university president and resigned last week as law professor at Baylor.
Most recently, Tracy spoke to football programs at Oregon State, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Baylor. Tracy said an Auburn official initially contacted Baylor to obtain her contact information.
Tracy’s trip is scheduled during Auburn’s bye week after the Tigers travel to Starkville, Miss., to play Mississippi State.
“I think (the timing) says this is important, we want to talk about this, we want to bring you here, because they’re seeking me out,” Tracy said. “They don’t have to have me, and I don’t take that for granted.”
On each visit, Tracy typically does two things: She shares her story, sparing few details, then encourages players to get involved. Her goal is to inspire bystanders to intervene if they see or hear something. She also asks that team members hold each other accountable.
“Women have been doing this work and fighting this issue for a long time,” Tracy said. “But we need men engaged. We have to have men involved and we have to do it together.”
Tracy has more visits lined up for the fall, but is excited about her upcoming trip to Auburn, which will mark her first appearance at an SEC school.
“Whenever I go to a school where football is life, I think wow, this is a place where we could really have a profound effect,” Tracy said. “These kids, because football is life, these kids, could really change their communities in a really profound way. I feel like athletics and college campuses are so influential. They have this unique ability to influence their campus and communities and their states because all eyes are on them.”