Code of Conduct for Athletic Coaches

By Michael E. Smith and Dulcinea Grantham

The police contact your school district as part of a criminal investigation -- a student has alleged that a volunteer coach for one of the district’s sports teams repeatedly groped the student during practices. In another case, parents file a lawsuit alleging negligent supervision because their child suffered a concussion during a team practice.

Scenarios like these unfortunately are not uncommon in school districts. In recent years, allegations of inappropriate conduct by coaches who supervise interscholastic sports have increased, resulting in devastating consequences for students and school communities. In addition, inappropriate conduct has resulted in numerous claims being filed against school districts.

Also, the number of cases involving student athletes who suffer severe injury or death during sporting events or practices is on the rise, as are claims against school districts for negligent supervision of student athletes and athletic coaches.

What can you as school leaders do to reduce or prevent liability stemming from incidents involving athletic coaches? Auditing hiring practices for athletic coaches will significantly reduce potential liability that may arise when inadequate or inconsistent hiring practices are in place.

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