On Oct. 22, 2018, Utah track and field athlete Lauren McCluskey was senselessly murdered by her ex-boyfriend. Melvin Rowland, a convicted sex offender who lied about his age and identity, tried to extort her for the sexual images she had shared with him during their time together.
While the murder and ensuing case made national news, the time the followed was nearly as difficult as the murder itself. Interesting pieces of the murder, and what led to it, detailed a flawed investigation by the University of Utah and the police department. Reports showed that both McCluskey and her mother Jill contacted the campus police as many as 10 days prior to the murder.
Now exactly two years later since that fateful day, and after Lauren’s parents had filed lawsuits against the school at the state level arguing that the University was criminally negligent, a settlement between both parties has been reached.
“The university acknowledges and deeply regrets that it did not handle Lauren’s case as it should have and that, at the time, its employees failed to fully understand and respond appropriately to Lauren’s situation,” University of Utah president Ruth Watkins said in a formal statement. “As a result, we failed Lauren and her family. If these employees had more complete training and protocols to guide their responses, the university believes they would have been better equipped to protect Lauren.”
As part of the settlement, the University of Utah’s ‘Center for Violence Prevention’ will now be renamed as the ‘McCluskey Center for Violence Prevention.’ The University will also pay the McCluskey family $10.5-million by March 31, 2021, and make a charitable donation of $3-million to the Lauren McCluskey Foundation.
Another part of the settlement will ensure that Lauren’s name lives forever within the walls of Utah athletics. The University said it will raise funds to construct an indoor athletic facility with a track to be named in Lauren’s honor by late 2030.
This will benefit the student-athletes ad Utah and allow them to train year-round, especially during the harsh winter months — which can sometimes last from November-through-March. As of now, athletes must travel to the Olympic Oval to train during the winter, making the commute just under an hour one way. If for whatever reason the funds aren’t raised by June 30, 2031, the University will make another $3-million donation to the Lauren McCluskey Foundation.
“As part of the settlement, the University of Utah has pledged to build an indoor track facility. … Named after Lauren. We are also honored that her name will be associated with the Center for Violence Prevention,” Jill said. “Track and field was a very important part of Lauren’s life. She was a very hard worker and she was honored to be a member of the Track and Field Team at the University of Utah.”
McCluskey was murdered on October 22, 2018, three days