COED 6150 – Injury Prevention and Risk Management

This course provides an overview of injury prevention and risk management issues and their associated legal risks for coaches in sports organizations. We discussed the role of coaches and athletics administrators in injury prevention and risk management as well as review relevant articles, best practices, case law and judgments, drawing implications relative to their current athletics environment. We also learned how to develop a risk management plans following the D.I.M. (develop, implement, manage) process.

The assignment from this class looked at 5 sports articles that deal with legal issues.

Article Review Challenge Instructions

Select five articles that detail a legal issue in which a coach is mentioned. (Note: There must be a legal issue involved, not just a violation of rules established by the NCAA or another governing body in athletics.) You must fully cite your references and provide either a copy of each article or a link to it, write your own summary of the facts for each article, include a mention of the legal issue at question, a mention of the additional types of potential risks involved (lawsuit, crime, injury, rules violation, financial or brand crisis, etc.) and then explain the outcome for the coach. Note: You will follow this process for EACH article. Also, at least one of these articles must involve a coach in your sport or an athletics professional in your area of expertise, such as an athletic trainer, for example. Be sure to indicate which article(s) pertain to your sport or your area of expertise. Sources may include coaching magazines, general periodicals, journals, newspapers or online media outlets.

Module 1 Article Review Challenge

  1. Jerry Sandusky Asks Court For New Trial

Former Penn St. Football Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky is seeking to have his 45-count child abuse conviction overturned by claiming his former lawyers were ineffective and that his rights were violated. He was convicted in June 2012 on 45 counts of molesting 10 boys over a course of 15 years while hosting a charity program for underprivileged children at Penn State University.

There are some potential risks that are involved by asking for a new trial. For Mr. Sandusky, there could be more victims that could step forward and testify against him before the statues of limitations for said crime expires. Current victims could sue Mr. Sandusky and/or Penn St. University for compensation. If Mr. Sandusky were to win his appeal, he could even sue the University to be reinstated as a coach to its football program.

If Mr. Sandusky loses his appeal, he will continue to serve prison time for at least another 26 years before he become eligible for parole at the age of 97. If he wins his appeal, he will be released back into society as a free man.

This article was chosen since I am a football coach working with young children.

  1. Kent State University Sues Its Former Men’s Basketball Coach

Kent St. is suing former Men’s Basketball Coach Geno Ford for breach of contract and Bradley University for tortious interference. Coach Ford left Kent St. to coach the Men’s Basketball Program at Bradley while there was 4 years remaining on his contract with Kent. St.

One of the potential risks that I see that could set a bad precedent for coaches to leave a program at will without any type of consequences. Without having a contract in place, what will keep a coach from jumping from school to school every year just cause they think that the grass might be greener on the other side of the fence.

Another risk issue that I could see would be the student-athletes suing the coach, school and NCAA. They would sue the school and coach for misleading them during the recruiting stages and sue NCAA to keep their eligibility as an athlete when they transfer to a different program without having to lose of year of eligibility. What assurance would the incoming athletes have that their new head coach will still be there after committing to that particular school?

Coach Ford lost his lawsuit in July 2013 and was required to pay $1.2 million to Kent St and he was fired by Bradley in March 2015.

  1. Former USC coach Steve Sarkisian files lawsuit against school, claiming breach of contract and discrimination

Coach Sarkisian was fired as the Head Coach of the USC Men’s Football program due to alcohol issues. USC placed Coach Sarkisian on indefinite leave in October 11, 2015 and fired him the very next day. USC fired him for alcohol related incidents in August 2015 and reports of being drunk at a team meeting on October 10, 2015. Coach Sarkisian is suing for breach of contract and discrimination along with 12 other complaints. He had request time away from the school to deal with his alcohol issues, in which alcoholism is considered as a disability under the Americans with Disability Act.

A risk that I think that could be a slippery slope, when you let someone go due to unsubstantiated substance issues, would be a lawsuit against the supervisor and/or organization. In this case, Coach Sarkisian was never tested for alcohol or drugs in his system at any of the team functions where alcohol is involved. Are there any types of documentation in his personal file that states that he should not drink alcohol or be willing to submit to random substance testing? If so, where were the substance test to determine if alcohol was in his system?

Another risk is what protection will a coach have against being fired without cause based on hearsay, rumors and reports?

After a few months, both sides have agreed to arbitration. Coach Sarkisian was able to complete a 30-day alcohol treatment program. Coach Sarkisian is currently unemployed until this issue has been resolved.

  1. Tennessee high school coach indicted for failing to report abuse in player rape case

Ooltewah High School Boys’ Basketball Coach Andre Montgomery has been indicted for failing to report a sexual assault on four of his players by three members of the same high school basketball team while traveling to Gatlinburg TN for a basketball tournament. Coaches were alerted by boy’s screams and found one of the players in a pool of blood and urine. The player was rushed to a local hospital for emergency surgery. An assistant coach and the school’s Assistant Principle/Athletic Director were charged as well for failing to report the sexual abuse to authorities.

Parents place their trust in the coaches to watch and take care of their children when they travel to away games. We, as coaches, are supposed to be the adults and watch these players like they are one of our children. The risks we could predict are the potential lawsuits from the parents for emotional and physical damage to their child. We would also risk the potential of being arrested and serving prison time for such actions. The State Board of Education could strip this coach of his teaching certification and possibility of being banned from working in other states as a coach and educator.

Coach Montgomery was transferred to a non-teaching position and barred from school campus until the issue has been resolved. The Assistant Principle/Athletic Director agreed to a pre-trial agreement that he will admit to no wrong doing but will be required to perform 10 hours of community service. 6 months after completion, he will have his record wiped clean. The assistant coach had all charges dropped against him.

  1. Sexual misconduct by Texas coaches investigated

 

A three-month study in Texas discovered that over a four year period, there were more than 64 High School and Middle School coaches lost their jobs due to sexual misconduct allegations involving students during December 1996 and February 2001. Among the coaches were 6 football head coaches, 5 baseball head coaches and 12 basketball head coaches.  58 of these coaches with allegations of sexual misconduct were men involved with female students or minors.

The risks that we will face for sexual misconduct with minor will be unemployment, marital issues, loss of teaching certification, lawsuits, jail and be forever registered as a sex offender if convicted.

The outcome for these coaches varied from coach to coach. Robbins (2001) noted that “Twenty-six were charged with sexual assault or other felony offenses; 17 received felony convictions because of guilty verdicts or plea agreements. Twenty-eight were sanctioned by the State Board for Educator Certification, which determines the worthiness of individuals to serve as educators, a standard that often encompasses noncriminal behavior. Nineteen entered into agreements with SBEC requiring the surrender or revocation of their teaching certificates. Twenty cases involved students who were affiliated with their school teams as athletes, managers, trainers or statisticians”.

References

  1. Adams, C. (2015, October 29). Jerry Sandusky Asks Court For New Trial; Judge Orders Attorney General to Turn Over Leaked Information Defense Says Impacted His Trial. Retrieved from http://www.people.com/article/jerry-sandusky-new-trial-leaked-attorney-general
  1. Grow, N. (2011, June 21). Kent State University Sues its Former Men’s Basketball Coach. Retrieved from http://sports-law.blogspot.com/2011/06/kent-state-university-sues-its-former.html
  1. Hammond, R. (2015, Dec. 8). Former USC coach Steve Sarkisian files lawsuits against school, claiming breach of contract and discrimination. Retrieve from http://www.ocregister.com/articles/lawsuit-695109-sarkisian-school.html
  1. Izadi, E. (2016, May 20). Tennessee high school coach indicted for failing to report abuse in player rape case. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2016/05/20/tennessee-high-school-coach-indicted-for-failing-to-report-abuse-in-player-rape-case/
  1. Robbins, D. (2001, April 22). Sexual Misconduct by Texas coaches Investigated. Retrieved from http://www.chron.com/news/article/Sexual-misconduct-by-Texas-coaches-investigated-2009243.php