Helping sports organization solve integrity, growth, and development challenges


Specific Policies Regarding Bullying, Hazing and Sexual Harassment Applicable to All Athletes, Parents, Officials and Sport Organization Staff

The adoption, implementation and enforcement of specific policies regarding bullying, hazing and sexual harassment applicable to all athletes, parents and sport organization staff is an essential "standard of care" obligation for all youth sport organizations.

Background and Reference Checks and Required SafeSport Training of "Covered Individuals"

The adoption and implementation of policies and procedures that adequately ensure that volunteers and employees successfully pass background and reference checks that identify individuals with past histories of sexual abuse of minors, inappropriate relationships with athletes, substance abuse and other disqualifying offenses is an essential "standard of care" obligation.

Q: Once any coach, staff member, sport official or member of the board of directors of the sport club becomes aware of misconduct, how should the local open amateur sport organization respond?

A:  The sport organization response should be clearly defined by policy and include the following essential elements: (a) a mandate to immediately restore a safe sports environment that will stay in place until the conclusion of adjudication, (b) immediately reporting the incident to proper authorities as required by law, (c) clearly defining the supporting role of the trusted parent or other volunteer designated to assist and support the athlete and/or parents in reporting more powerful coaches or officials or other athletes and participating in the investigation and adjudication proc

Q: What are the characteristics of model policies and procedures governing the reporting of coach or participant misconduct in local open amateur sport clubs or organizations?

A:  Policies and procedures governing the reporting of coaching or participant misconduct should include (a) mandatory reporter responsibilities for all coaches, volunteers and staff members, (b) “whistle blower” protection from retaliation and (c) the provision of a trusted parent or other volunteer to assist the athlete and/or parents in reporting more powerful coaches or officials or other athletes because of fears of retaliation or hazing.

Q: What are good resources to use to educate athletes and parents about the grooming behaviors of pedophiles?

A:  Competent sport organization administrators understand that the most common type of pedophile encountered in youth sport programs is the “acquaintance pedophile.”   Generally, there are three types of pedophiles: “stranger”, “family” and “acquaintance” pedophiles.  Stranger pedophiles typically abduct and harm their victims, often fatally.  Family pedophiles involve child abuse by a parent or family member.  Acquaintance pedophiles are the most difficult to detect because they often occupy positions of respect (i.e., teachers, coaches, priests, etc.) and ar

Q: What is the meaning of “standard of care” for a youth sport organization?

A:  The definition of “standard of care” for a youth sport organization refers to the degree of attentiveness, caution and prudence that a reasonable person in the circumstance of providing such activity would exercise.  There are decades of expert opinions and publication of model policies and practices promulgated by national sport governance organizations that inform those conducting sports programs of their obligations to anticipate and prevent coach sexual abuse and harassment, physical and emotional abuse, bullying by coaches or bullying or hazing by other participants, and

Q: What would you recommend with regard to coaching behavior expectations?

There are three keys critical to the oversight of professional conduct of coaches:  (1) the existence of a comprehensive athletic department policy regarding standards of coaching conduct that explicitly defines prohibited behaviors, (2) the requirement that the coach’s supervisor have an annual meeting with the team and the coaches prior to the start of practice to review the policy so that student-athletes as well as coaches clearly understand prohibited conduct and student-athletes understand the complaint process, and (3) having a policy that requires all staff members to report ob

Title IX Prohibits Discrimination Based on Pregnancy Too!

Title IX discussions usually focus on gender equality in the participation and treatment of athletics teams.  Few administrators realize that this federal law also mandates strong protections for student-athletes who are pregnant.  Every director of athletics should read the NCAA’s 2008 publication, Pregnant and Parenting Student-Athletes:  Resources and Model Policies, authored by Nancy Hogshead-Makar and Elizabeth Sorensen and available for free online.