The United States Olympic Committee today announced the formation of an independent advisory council to guide the launch of the United States Center for Safe Sport. The council is charged with providing industry expertise to support and inform the center during its start-up phase through June 2015.
The USOC’s board of directors unanimously approved the creation of the U.S. Center for Safe Sport in June 2014 based on recommendations from the USOC’s Safe Sport Working Group. The independent entity will oversee education programs for safe sport, and investigate and adjudicate claims of misconduct in sports that are managed by USOC-sanctioned National Governing Bodies.
“There is no national agency today that is responsible for the safety and well-being of young athletes and we're in position to lead this important effort,” said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. “The National Center for Safe Sport will help fill that vacuum by providing training and resources, promoting open dialogue and conducting investigations on a national level.”
The seven-member council consists of external experts and industry leaders in abuse prevention, including Tony Foreman (Oklahoma City Police Department), Angelo Giardino (Texas Children’s Hospital), W. Scott Lewis (National Center for Higher Risk Management Group), Laurie Nathan (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children), Stephanie Smith (Child Protection Training Services), Katherine Starr (Safe4Athletes) and Dr. Jeffery Wilkins (Cedars-Sinai).
The council’s expertise broadly includes a strong working knowledge of mandatory reporting laws, prevention policies, behavioral intervention, sexual assault and harassment, hazing prevention, investigation, athlete advocacy and outreach, and developing evidence-based models for addressing misconduct. The council will focus on three primary objectives:
- Deliver an understanding of industry trends and best practices at the intersection of abuse and sport;
- Review and provide feedback concerning key operational documents, including complaint and investigation protocols, behavioral definitions, and policies and procedures; and
- Provide unbiased insight as an outside, third-party source.
The board also approved $5.2 million of funding for the new entity over a five-year period beginning in 2015. Collectively, NGBs will match the USOC’s contribution, providing $1.04 million per year.
“One of the greatest challenges many NGBs face is limited resources and expertise to investigate claims of misconduct,” said Malia Arrington, USOC director of ethics and safe sport. “With this independent entity, we have the ability for the first time to provide that resource to them so we can create and sustain safe environments for young athletes.”
Consistent with the working group's original recommendation and as unanimously endorsed by the NGB Council in 2013, participation in the new entity will be a condition of continued membership in the USOC.