SafeSport has strict rules for coaches.The U.S. Center for SafeSport (SafeSport) is an independent, non-profit organization that governs over allegations of abuse in sports. A federal law called the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017 provides SafeSport with authority to govern over abuse and/or misconduct allegations within the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee movement, including those involving members of all recognized National Governing Bodies (NGBs).

What Coaches Need to Know About SafeSport

SafeSport applies to athletes, trainers, coaches, and others involved in the U.S. Olympic or Paralympic movement. As a coach, it’s important to know that the SafeSport Code:

  • Defines prohibited conduct, including sexual, emotional, and physical abuse
  • Establishes rules and procedures for investigating and resolving reported incidents of abuse
  • Provides training so that you know what to do if you suspect a minor athlete is being abused
  • Mandates that coaches report suspected incidents of abuse to SafeSport

SafeSport Training for Coaches

SafeSport offers abuse prevention training to coaches and requires this training for adults who have regular contact with amateur athletes under the age of 18. 

The initial 90-minute training teaches coaches and other participants how to:

  • Recognize warning signs of emotional, physical, and sexual misconduct
  • Report suspected abuse to SafeSport

Follow-up training is available one year after the initial training is completed. NGBs may require specific additional training. For example, U.S. Figure Skating requires coaches to complete additional continuing education courses annually.

How to Report Abuse to SafeSport

If you suspect abuse, call local law enforcement officials—if you are a mandatory reporter, this is required by law. After you contact law enforcement, you must also report the alleged abuse to SafeSport. SafeSport will conduct its own investigation, often in collaboration with law enforcement. You can make your report online or by calling SafeSport.

Once you make a report, SafeSport will conduct a preliminary inquiry to determine whether there’s reason to believe that the SafeSport Code was violated. SafeSport has jurisdiction to investigate and resolve reports of the following types of misconduct within the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movement:

  • Sexual misconduct, including child sexual abuse
  • Child abuse
  • Misconduct related to reporting if the underlying allegation involves child abuse or sexual misconduct
  • Aiding and abetting, as related to SafeSport’s process
  • Misconduct related to SafeSport’s process
  • Other inappropriate conduct included in the SafeSport Code

If there is reason to suspect a Code violation, SafeSport will conduct a full investigation and issue a finding or resolution.

Representation for Coaches Dealing With Suspected Abuse

As a coach, you might be a mandatory reporter to SafeSport. When in doubt, call SafeSport and make a report. If you have additional questions or concerns, contact our experienced sports law attorneys. We can help you make the right decisions to comply with your SafeSport obligations.

Global Sports Advocates only practices sports law. We know what to do in the challenging position you face. Contact us today at +1-207-747-5899 to get information you can trust about what to do next.

We are a private law firm. We are not the United States Center for Safesport.

Paul Greene
Recognized as one of the world’s leading sports lawyers and a well-known speaker and author.