Athletics Program Risk Checklist
by Donna A. Lopiano, Ph.D.
We live in a litigious society where the threat of a lawsuit is just around the corner in so many athletic program areas. Here’s a quick checklist for athletics directors. Does the athletics program have a policy and procedure and record keeping mechanism in place that protects student-athletes, employees and institutional interests for each of the following 18 critical areas?
Alcohol and Drugs
- Drug testing program (if one exists).
- Dispensing over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, nutritional supplements, prescription drugs or similar ingestible substances to athletes.
- Distributing medications under the direction of medical personnel.
- Inspection of all drug stocks (first aid kits, storage areas, etc.) and the removal of outdated, deteriorated or recalled items.
- Emotional, physical and sexual abuse and expected standards of behavior.
- Missing child procedures for all camps, clinics and events.
- Parent/spectator conduct.
- Child pick-up.
Conditioning and Weight Training
- Required pre-season conditioning programs.
- Required minimum number of practices prior to the beginning of sports competition.
- Approval of legal counsel prior to execution of all agreements.
- Requirements for professional liability insurance for third party contractors.
- Control of bloodborne pathogens
- Control of infectious diseases.
- Accident/injury documentation.
- Assumption of risk/informed consent.
- Waiver of liability or other “exculpatory” agreements.
- Letters of appointment and employment contracts.
- Annual employee evaluations.
- Corrective action procedures.
- Termination procedures.
- Position posting requirements.
- Harassment (sex, race, sexual orientation, etc.).
- Protected employee expression.
- Position interviewing.
- Documentation of references and previous employment.
- . Background checks.
- Conformity with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Tickets as revocable license.
- Fan behavior.
- Internal and external crowd control.
- Alcohol consumption.
- Security personnel.
- Facility evacuation.
- Emergency equipment.
- Communications equipment.
- . Emergency transportation in the event of a medical emergency.
- . Medical and other emergency procedures.
- . Parking and traffic controls.
- . Concession health and sanitation.
- . Use of pyrotechnics.
- . Spectator code of conduct.
- . Noisemakers, weapons or items that can be used as weapons, signs.
- . Search for missing persons.
- Protective eyewear.
- Protective helmets.
- Sport specific mandatory equipment.
- Equipment instruction.
- Equipment inspection.
- Safety inspection and maintenance.
- Supervisory and insurance requirements.
- Compliance assessment/plans.
- Handling complaints.
Instruction and Certification
- Emergency medical certification (CPR, first aid, the use of AEDs and the prevention of disease transmission).
- Instruction credentials.
- Safety and supervisory expectations.
- Medical treatment for injuries or illness incurred due to sports participation.
- Event liability.
Lightning and Weather
- Suspension, resumption or cancellation of play.
- Lightning detectors.
- Shelter instructions.
Medical Screening, Records and Emergencies
- Cardiac arrest and use of external defibrillators.
- Emergency medical equipment/location/inspection/maintenance.
- Medical emergency action plan/training/rehearsal.
- Medical screening and records.
- Participation decisions in the event of injury, illness, pregnancy
- Hazing, initiation rituals and physical punishment.
- Review and approval of team rules.
- Driver requirements.
- Transportation contractors.
- Vehicle inspection, maintenance and record-keeping.
- Documentation required for vehicle and coach.
- Release of participants to return by different means.
- Travel insurance.
- Mandatory rest stops, maximum driving time.
Weight loss, Dehydration, Heat and Cold Related Illnesses
- Availability of fluids.
- Guidelines for dressing, games and work-outs in high heat/humidity or excessively cold conditions.
- Methods of weight loss.
- Assessment of body composition.
- Appropriate nutritional intervention.