The Private Trainer Risk

Written by PC News on . Posted in Coaches, Contractors, Molestation, Players

The days when volunteer dads got together and coached a select sports team or gave lessons to their own kids on the driving range or tennis courts are long gone.  At the more select levels of competition, paid coaches work to prepare and coach teams for kids still years away from puberty as well as kids preparing to enter college.  Outside of team practice, cottage industries of private trainers have sprung up across the country, offering parents yet another option for providing extra training and practice for those willing to put in the time and pay the money.  Among youth sports clubs, alliances with private trainers provide both a recruiting edge in selling prospective players on outside training opportunities and a possible pipeline of privately trained players steered to the club.  Alliances between trainers and clubs can benefit both, and are increasing in frequency. On the surface, they appear to be low risk for each party, as there is often no contractual relation or agreement, and even when there is strict independent contractor status is usually maintained.  But is there actually more risk than we might realize?

The past few months have seen a disturbing rise in arrests and allegations against private trainers.  An nationally recognized golf coach was recently charged with over sixty counts of child molestation. (Full Story Here).   Many of the offenses occurred while providing transportation to students or traveling out of town — areas your internal risk management policy should address.  “He befriended them as the cool coach, gave them rides to and from practice and bought them gifts, including top-of-the-line golf equipment,” police said.   Similar arrests have occurred in tennis (See Story) and soccer (See Story).  Consider whether your organization could face liability for referring players to a “preferred” or “exclusive” private trainer.

If your club has entered into a preferred private training relationship, or especially an exclusive one, there is certainly the possibility that your club could be the target of litigation if injury, abuse or molestation occurs in the private training setting.  This is true even if there is no employment relationship between the club and the trainer.  The exposure is further increased if the private training takes place using the club’s facilities.

At Placek Consulting, we caution against creating preferred or exclusive training arrangements with parties that the club cannot control.  However, if your club makes this competitive choice, we can work with you to create appropriate risk management policies and contractual agreements to protect the club.  We can review your existing agreements and advise you on any unanticipated risk created by those agreements.  Contact us at 512-487-RISK for an analysis.

Sharing Information Between Clubs – UPDATE

Written by PC News on . Posted in Contractors, Molestation, Volunteer Screening

Additional reports on the story reported below indicate that the same coach who was arrested had been sued in 2000 over allegations of sexual abuse. (Read Story)

In sum, the coach had been:

* Sued in 2000 for sexual abuse in California;
* Fired in 2008 for undisclosed reasons in Oregon; and
* Subsequently hired at another gymnastics school

prior to being arrested for allegedly photographing young gymnasts in the changing room. Most commercially available background check systems used by youth sports groups will not turn up civil lawsuits. Previous terminations do not turn up in background checks. Could information sharing have prevented the crimes he is currently accused of? When a new coach volunteers with your organization, what steps do you take beyond running a criminal background check. If you terminate a volunteer based on complaints or suspicion, will the next club know?

Let us guide you in developing a comprehensive volunteer screening program.

Manage Contractor Risk: The Case of the Texting Umpire

Written by PC News on . Posted in Contractors, Molestation

Much of a board’s time on risk management may be spent focusing on its volunteer coaches, on weather procedures, and on other concerns internal to the organization.  However, most associations have external risks to manage as well.  Contractors, such as food vendors, photo providers and especially referees often have direct contact with an organization’s youth participants.  In Vero Beach, Florida, a 13 year old girl accused a 34 year old umpire of having sex with her.  They met at the little league fields where she was playing softball and he was working as an umpire.  She alleged that they began exchanging text messages and later developed a sexual relationship.

Although the umpire was acquitted of criminal charges, this does not preclude the possibility of civil litigation against the youth sports league.  Does your risk management plan account for exposures from contractors who might have contact with your youth players?

Read the article here: