Archive for the ‘Schools’ Category

Youth Sports Misconduct Extends To Social Media

And includes cyberbullying

The excitement of a new school year brings enthusiasm for the beginning of many youth sports seasons. As competitions get underway, coaches, activity directors and athletic staff also may become aware of instances of bullying and cyberbullying.

Children’s sports team coaches and athletic staff may be surprised to learn that the fundamentals of sportsmanship now extend to participants’ online behavior.

In the past, emphasis has been on exercising good sportsmanship on the playing field or court. Today, participants can endanger themselves or their organization with sports misconduct while online.

Examples of cyberbullying violations

It is a violation of Safe Sport risk management programs if a staff member knows or should have known of bullying behavior, but takes no action to intervene. Athletic staff need training to recognize, address and prevent such behavior.

Youth sports misconduct includes using electronic communication against someone to:

  • Harass
  • Frighten
  • Intimidate
  • Humiliate
  • Threaten
  • Socially isolate

Prohibited cyberbullying behavior also includes attempts to diminish or exclude another participant physically, emotionally or sexually.

According to the most common places where cyberbullying occurs are:

  • Social Media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik Tok
  • Text messaging and messaging apps on mobile or tablet devices
  • Instant messaging, direct messaging, and online chatting over the internet
  • Online forums, chat rooms, and message boards, such as Reddit
  • Email
  • Online gaming communities

State laws address cyberbullying

While there is no Federal law that specifically applies to cyberbullying, individual states have laws to protect people from bullying. Click here to see your state’s laws.

Often, it is not the staff, but other participants – such as parents or guardians – who perpetrate bullying. School sports and activity programs need to be aware that good sportsmanship applies, whether in the sport or activity itself, or online.

It is important to note that bullying does not include group or team behaviors to encourage a culture of team unity and/or harder training effort. To learn more about what constitutes bullying, see the Sadler Child Abuse Protection Program.

A participant or parent/guardian who participates in any act of bullying should be subject to appropriate disciplinary action including but not limited to suspension, permanent ban, and referral to law enforcement authorities.

League organizers, sports complex managers, board members, coaches, athletes, umpires and performers involved in youth sports face unique risks.

Types of cyberbullying lawsuits

As the ease of digital communication evolves, an environment conducive to cyberbullying flourishes. A single inappropriate post or action can put you and your organization at risk. At any moment, an accusation of negligence, abuse, neglect or misconduct can be alleged, along with a lawsuit alleging bodily injury, emotional distress, personal injury, or failure to follow your own rules and bylaws if you don’t take action to address a prohibited activity.

Protect Yourself

The best way to protect yourself is to formally adopt and implement a Child Abuse Protection Plan such as the one that we have customized for our clients. In addition, you should protect yourself and your organization with the purchase of both General Liability and Directors & Officers Liability insurance. Call Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance at (800) 622-7370 to learn more or click on “get quote” in the top navigation bar above to find the custom program which best fits your needs.



UofSC Club Sports men’s lacrosse team climbs to the top after overcoming funding obstacles

In May, a second-straight national championship win was within the grasp of the University of South Carolina men’s lacrosse club team. But to compete for the title, they had to cough up $20,000 in travel costs. The trip to Round Rock, Texas was not something the Gamecocks were prepared to finance. Worse, they had only a three-day window to purchase the airline tickets. 

The lacrosse team’s scramble to fund their trip to the MCLA finals underscored the contrast between how club sports operate versus NCAA athletics at the university. Most of UofSC’s club sport programs are run by students. So much goes into it, according to club president William Lohoff-Gaida, that it can feel like a job.

Creating a budget with limited funding is one of student-athletes’ many tasks. Whether a club team has a shot at postseason play is unpredictable, and any related logistics are unknown as they plan for yearly spending. The club might hope for a shot at the championship, but they can’t budget for it.

Various resources have to be accounted for in their planning, with regular-season costs for each team member in the 2022 season of between $2,000 and $3,000. This left no money for funding the postseason trip, which would cost $420 per airline ticket for 45 players and four coaches, not to mention lodging and additional transportation. The club asked for another $750 in dues from each player and joined forces with Columbia’s Village Idiot Pizza restaurant, who helped with some of the travel and lodging costs.   

An online fundraiser yielded the greatest proceeds toward the Gamecocks’ travel expenses. The team’s treasurer said they would not have been able to buy the tickets without the fundraiser, according to Lohoff-Gaida. 

Peter Candela, the club’s head coach and manager of many club logistics, says that the club team stands out from other student athletes at the university. While other athletes only have daily worries like other sports, the club team has to worry about administrative tasks like scheduling and finances. 

Funding a student-led organization

Credit for the success of the men’s lacrosse team goes to the athletes, according to UofSC sport programs director Justin Furlough. While Furlough’s department helps the team acquire necessary resources such as insurance and medical care, the students are responsible for everything else. They plan a budget, which has to be approved by a sport club executive board. The board then issues the team a piece of the $35,977 reserved for distribution among the school’s 56 club programs. 

With so little funding, the budget quickly runs out of room for potential postseason play. The student-run executive board was able to secure nearly double the club sports’ 2022 budget for the 2023 fiscal year, on a trial basis. The increase in funds sounds promising for next season, but funding from the school over the past year amounted to only 1% of the team’s overall costs. As reported by Lohoff-Gaida, this year’s full season cost around $200,000. Funding from the school was only $2,000.

Regular-season travel eats up the majority of the lacrosse team’s budget. The team schedules games in Florida, Virginia and Arizona throughout the season. They have to play high-ranked teams, Lohoff-Gaida said, so they can maintain a high ranking.  

In order to bridge what seems to be an impossibly large gap between school funding and costs, the student-athletes have to find innovative ways to raise money. They run an online store that sells team merchandise. They also collaborated with Village Idiot Pizza, who hosted a fundraiser and donated a percentage of the evening’s regular profits to the team. Village Idiot then held a watch party for the national championship game, which was a success, according to Lohoff-Gaida.

The men’s lacrosse club is also driven by other supporters like Shelly Smith, the South Carolina women’s soccer coach. According to Candela, Smith is a huge fan of the team, as is her husband Jamie Smith, the associate women’s soccer coach. The Smiths bought the team dinner when they were in Texas for the championship.

The construction of a championship team

Two consecutive MCLA titles have made the UofSC men’s lacrosse team an appealing option for players who don’t want the sport to dominate their lives. Players trying out for the lacrosse team must maintain at least a 2.5 GPA and have to be enrolled in classes full-time. Of approximately 150 students who vied for a spot on the club lacrosse team this year, 45 made the roster. Then those students’ schedules required synchronization to find practice times. Lohoff-Gaida said that while the club meets for practice twice a week, it’s playing games that really builds their strength as a team.

The players hail from 10 different states, including Maryland and New York, both known for their lacrosse culture, according to Lohoff-Gaida. Only 14 of the 45 team members are South Carolina natives. Some of the members transferred to the club from Division I, which Lohoff-Gaida said is much more demanding, with less time for schoolwork or a social life. A lot of the team members transferred from those big programs to avoid the full-time lacrosse obligation, according to Candela. The schedule of practicing two days a week allows them to enjoy the college experience while also participating in a competitive sport. 

UofSC Club Sports men's lacrosseA rocky start to the club sport season

The Gamecocks have battled through unfavorable situations to reach the national title. The season got off to a shaky start, with a 3-3 record early in the season. They managed to turn things around by winning 14 games in a row, 10 of those before nationals. Due to poor field conditions, they first played Georgia Tech at Columbia’s Heathwood Hall Episcopal School in March. The relocated game ended in a muddy loss, but the team kicked off their winning streak during the very next game, defeating Cal Poly 14-8. 

The Gamecocks also won a game at Clemson’s soccer stadium, the Historic Riggs Field. This was a triumph for Lohoff-Gaida, who one day wants to see the club play at Stone Stadium, USC’s own soccer venue. They also won a crucial game in the Southeastern Lacrosse Conference Division I Tournament. 

Life after a club sports victory

Once the lacrosse club made it to Texas, they played and won against Arizona, Liberty, and Brigham Young University. Then they played Georgia Tech for the third time: after the loss in March and a win in April. 

When the Gamecocks met the Yellow Jackets for the final time at the championship game, they were battling heat so brutal some of their cleats melted. That time the weather didn’t keep them from the win. Social media posts by Dawn Staley and Shane Beamer, UofSC’s women’s basketball coach and football coaches, cheered them on. UofSC alum Darius Rucker also posted a congratulatory tweet. Lohoff-Gaida and Candela expressed their gratitude and hope for similar and continued support .

Given the lacrosse players who already flock to UofSC, Lohoff-Gaida thinks that if the university started an NCAA lacrosse program, it would be a success, possibly even going on to Division I. According to Furlough, a UofSC club has never made the transition to NCAA sport. He and Candela are not sure it would be such a positive change. For one thing, current lacrosse club players would not be guaranteed a spot in an NCAA program.  That’s because admission is talent- and even recruitment-based rather than on the payment of dues and meeting eligibility in club sports. For another, the team is united by all the work they put in to keep the club running. 

Funding for an NCAA team would be the biggest obstacle, Candela said. He believes UofSC securing the funds and building the first NCAA men’s lacrosse team in the SEC would result in a recruiting advantage. Although Candela attributes the men’s lacrosse team’s success to the club culture, he says one day an NCAA program could be a good thing for the state of South Carolina.  

Insurance for college and university club sports 

Sadler Sports and Recreation Insurance proudly provides the General Liability and Accident insurance for UofSC Club Sports and is aggressively seeking new business. Finding sports insurance for club sports programs can be difficult. This is because many clubs participate in high-risk activities such as tackle football, rugby, soccer and include activity clubs like SCUBA. Visit our webpage for college and university club and intramural sports insurance for more information or a quote. We also provide assistance in developing risk management programs for club and intramural sports.

Source: Augusta Stone. “Money, mud fests and melted cleats: Inside USC men’s lacrosse club’s championship win.” The State Newspaper, June 10, 2022. 

Photos courtesy of UofSC Office of Campus Recreation

$300M Locker Room Peeping Lawsuit Alleges Child Abuse / Privacy Issues

Lessons to be learned about managing locker rooms to prevent child abuse and invasion of privacy

The class-action lawsuit filed in S.C. State Court alleges that Bishop England High School in Charleston, South Carolina knowingly allowed windows for staff viewing of students inside the boy’s and girls’ gym locker rooms. The windows were apparently installed in 1998 when Bishop England opened their new campus. After 21 years, an undisclosed number of former and some current students spoke out against the school, which is under the oversight of the Diocese Of Charleston. The list of defendants includes not only Bishop England and the Diocese of Charleston but also Bishop Robert Guglielmone. Bishop Guglielmone recently retired in May of 2019 at the age of 75.

This case is illustrative for the youth sports clients of Sadler Sports Insurance that have locker rooms and changing rooms either on owned or leased premises or at other premises. Note that the definition of child abuse includes non-touching offenses such as voyeurism and the photographing of minors for sexual purposes when they have an expectation of privacy. There can be a fine line between the duty to monitor and prevent bullying and hazing versus sexual misconduct. The U.S. Center for SafeSport has published guidelines for locker rooms and changing areas which maximizes privacy and child abuse protection for athletes by not allowing a continuous presence by staff inside of locker rooms. Instead, staff should be located directly outside of locker rooms and should be on call if a problem arises but periodic sweeps are encouraged.

Public knowledge emerges from voyeurism charge against school employee with window overlooking locker rooms

Public knowledge first emerged in 2019 when the school’s sports information director, Jeffrey Alan Scofield, was arrested for voyeurism. The employee told detectives that his office window overlooked the boys’ locker room, and he set up his phone between the windows and blinds for video recording. He then downloaded the videos onto a school computer. The employee was subsequently fired, convicted of voyeurism, and sentenced to time served plus 18 months probation along with being listed under the state’s sexual offender registry with a requirement to seek mental health counseling.

Defendants sued for $300 million for invasion of privacy and sexually abusive actions

The lawsuit alleges that Bishop England engaged in “dishonest, deceptive and sexually abusive actions” when it failed to protect students. The charges include invasion of privacy, various acts of negligence, breach of warranty, and unjust enrichment. The Diocese publicly denounced the accusation as having absolutely no merit stating thehigh school sued for $300 million for viewing windows in locker room windows were in place merely to supervise students to prevent smoking, bullying, fighting, and other improper behavior. The plaintiffs are asking for $300 million in damages. Larry Richter, a previous graduate of the high school in the 1960s, is the attorney handling the case on behalf of the plaintiffs. Richter enacted a previous class-action case against the Diocese of Charleston. He won a $12 million settlement on the grounds of child sexual abuse.

Since 1998, students undressed in front of coaches who had access to the windows. Richter claims the school did nothing for years to get rid of the windows. He further questions why they were ever installed in the first place.

Since the filing of the lawsuit, Bishop England has subsequently boarded over the windows and replaced them with a brick wall.

Trainings and procedures to protect students from child sexual abuse

Bishop England firmly states that they have all the proper procedures and screenings in place for new employees. The school requires all new staff to:

  • Pass a background check
  • Attend child abuse prevention training
  • Attend student boundary training
  • Sign a code of conduct overseeing how they interact with minors

Huge number of potential sex abuse victims from locker room setting

But despite these requirements and trainings, child abuse allegedly still occurred. With 687 students in the student-body, Bishop Englandsexually abusive locker room windows, high school sued High School is the largest Catholic high school in the state. Over the course of 21 years, the number of students victim to peering is theoretically in the thousands. The number gets even larger. Richter states that visiting athletes from other schools shared the locker rooms as well.

How this case applies to youth sports organizations that use locker rooms and changing areas

While this lawsuit’s subject matter occurred in the school setting, youth sports participants are subject to the same types of invasion of privacy and sexual abuse. Child abuse is not limited to just inappropriate touching. The definition of illegal child abuse is quite broad and includes voyeurism and inappropriately videotaping youth in various states of undress.

In the past, youth sports administrators keyed in solely on criminal background checks to protect their youth from predators. The problem with putting all the eggs in the background check basket is that the vast majority of predators don’t have a detectable criminal background. 

Therefore, merely running background checks is not enough to protect youth. The Safe Sport Act requires sports organizations at a minimum to provide:

  • Mandatory educational training of adult staff and volunteers with access to youth. This should include defining the various forms of child abuse including no touching offenses such as voyeurism and how to handle locker room and changing room settings.
  • Offer minor training at the discretion of the parent/guardian
  • Implement policies and procedures to reduce the chances of an incident
  • Report suspicions to local law enforcement within 24 hours
  • Prohibit retaliation for whistleblowers

Sadler Sports Insurance offers free child abuse risk management content

Be sure to check out our free child abuse/molestation risk management content which includes the industry-leading blog on the Safe Sport Act, child abuse risk management templates, types of criminal background checks, and sources of criminal background checks. The document entitled Sadler Safe Sport Child Abuse and Other Misconduct Risk Management Plan includes a section on how to manage locker rooms and changing areas.


Caitlin Byrd. SC’s largest Catholic high school sued for $300M for invasive locker room windows. The State. February 4, 2021.

Drew Tripp. Bishop England, Diocese of Charleston sued for $300M over student exploitation claims. ABC News 4. February 4, 2021.

Catherine Kohn and Kenna Coe. $300 million lawsuit filed against Bishop England High School. Moultrie News. February 4, 2021.


School and Booster Club Blame Game Over Athlete Death

Lack of risk management leads to costly legal battle

The family of Joshua Mileto is seeking $15 million in damages following his fatal accident on the campus of Sachem East High School in Long Island. The suit names and alleges equal blame to both the school district and school’s booster club.

Mileto, 16, died when a log fell on his head during a summer camp exercise. He and four other players were carrying the 400-lb. log during an off-season football camp drill. The attorney for the Miletos said the suit names both parties because of the vague relationship between the two. The Sachem East Touchdown Club is registered as a nonprofit.

It remains to be seen whether coaches at the camp will also be named in the suit. Apparently, it isn’t clear yet for whom the coaches were working, the school or the booster club. Both entities played a role in running the preseason camp. The Miletos’ attorney stated the drill was too dangerous for boys that age and size.

If the school can prove it didn’t employ the coaches for the purposes of the camp, it may not have any liability, according to Michael Duffy, an attorney not involved in the case.  Michael Kaplen, a law professor a George Washington University, isn’t aware of any cases where a school district tried to shift blame onto a booster club. It would be difficult to do so, he said, because the camp took place on school property. That’s tantamount to a school district endorsement of the camp.

How schools can protect themselves

The New York State Education Department points to section 414 of education law, advising schools to not treat booster clubs as an extension of the district. The law states that the school should establish policies for use of the property that “provide for the safety and security of the pupils.”

At Sadler Insurance, we advise all facility owners, including school districts, to have an agreement clarifying the roles of the facility owner and facility user. This should include insurance requirements and an indemnification/hold harmless provision in favor of the facility owner. For more information, see Insurance for Facility Users of Recreation Departments and Schools.

Source: Jim Baumbach, Michael O’Keeffe. “Sachem East football player lawsuit would look to establish blame,” 09 Sept. 2017.

Benching of Youth Participants and Resulting Lawsuits

Parents who pay want their child to play

It’s not yet what you’d call a trend, but there’s certainly an uptick in the number of parents filing lawsuits to get their child off the bench and onto the playing field.

Parents put out big bucks in registrations fees, equipment and travel costs associated with high school and youth club and travel teams, to say nothing of the time they invest attending practices and traveling to games. Many parents sacrifice their time and money for their children hoping to get the attention of college coaches, earn scholarships, and improve chances of college admissions – or even advance a professional athletic career. So, it’s understandable that some are dissatisfied when their child rides the bench more than he or she plays. In other words, they expect a payoff for their investment.

There is also an increase in lawsuits by parents of children who have been cut from teams, injured, disciplined by coaches or penalized by officials. But is hiring an attorney the answer? Many are questioning not only the attitude of entitlement, but how the children, who generally play for the fun and camaraderie, are affected by such lawsuits. What are the children learning when parents step in so heavily handed to smooth the way? Will they learn they’re entitled to play on a team simply because they attend practice? And are parents setting these athletes up to be bullied by other team members?

The increasingly competitive nature of youth sports has helped shift many parents’ focus from fun, exercise and sportsmanship to an investment in their children’s academic and professional futures. Youth sports officials are watching the case of a 16-year-old volleyball player. The girl earned spot on a volleyball league but ended up on the bench, so her parents filed suit against the volleyball association, alleging it won’t let the girl play or to switch teams, per the contract she signed.

General Liability policies, which typically only respond to certain lawsuits alleging bodily injury or property damage, don’t cover these types of lawsuits that allege loss of college scholarship or loss of pro career. Such lawsuits generally require a Professional Liability endorsement on a General Liability policy or a stand alone Professional Liability policy.

Source: Tracey Schelmetic,, 21 Apr. 2015.

AEDs and Liability in Public Schools

Will sympathy impact legislation?   

Too many communities have grieved debilitating injuries or premature deaths of high school athletes due to cardiac events. Many schools maintain automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) in an effort to prevent such tragedies.

 There are no federal mandates regarding AEDs in public schools. Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa , Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin have passed legislation requiring some schools to maintain portable defibrillators.  California and Tennessee encourages placement in public schools.

But a debate has started over whether public schools can be held liable if the AEDs are not used. This stems from a lawsuit that will go before the Florida Supreme Court sometime this year.

What set the ball in motion

When an East County High School soccer player collapsed on the field, school personnel called 911 and performed CPR while waiting for emergency responders. The AED on campus was not utilized. Although paramedics were able to revive the student with a defibrillator and medication, he suffered severe brain damage and is in a vegetative state.

 The lawsuit argues that that the school district is liable. Lower courts found in favor of the school district, acknowledging that the school is legally obligated to try to help any student who becomes injured or ill on school grounds but not to authorize or direct specific treatment such as the use of an AED.

Florida ruling could have huge impact

If the Florida Supreme Court overturns the lower court ruling, there is potential for every youth sports facility or program to be affected. This includes both public and private facilities and programs, such as those run by school districts, local and state governments, parks and universities.

If this occurs, the next question will be whether AED training will be required of paid and volunteer coaches, referees, and organizers or risk being sued in the event of an episode such as the one in the current suit. And will these organizations be required to purchase other medical devices and provide training to avoid liability? And, of course, this could affect the cost of Liability Insurance, as typically is the case when claims are made.

Source: Mark Miller and Deborah J. LaFetra, “Fla. Lawsuit Set to Define Schools’ Legal Duty to Use AEDs,” Tampa Tribune.  16 Apri 2014

School Facility Use Liabilities

Sadler partners with schools and districts to assist in lowering liability risks

There are critical aspects of risk management for organizations that permit the use of their facility to outside groups. The video below offers detailed information on the following:

  • Why facility user groups expose schools to a huge liability potential.
  • Why users such as camps, teams, leagues, special event operators, and tournaments must carry their own insurance.
  • Why not just any insurance will adequately protect schools.
  • How to set reasonable minimum insurance standards to shield the school’s own liability insurance from paying unnecessary claims
  • Provides a specific webpage that is a reputable source of high limit, high coverage sports insurance to which facility users can be referred to INSTANTLY bind coverage and issue certificates of insurance naming school as Additional Insured.
  • How we can set up your school/school district on our automatic certificate of insurance issuance system to meet your special wording requirements every time. Nothing is more frustrating than having to tell a facility user that their insurance does not meet your requirements.
  • All of the above speeds the process and reduces hassle and frustration for all parties involved.

Insurance Requirements for Rec Facility Users

Reduce liability exposure with proper collection of certificates of insurance

Facility user groups such as teams, leagues, tournament hosts, camps, instructors, and special event operators must carry adequate insurance. In addition to providing the proper coverage, Sadler Sports Insurance can assist you in reducing your liability by:

    • setting minimum insurance limits and coverage standards that adequately protect the recreation department
    • providing a simple free checklist tool to assist in verifying insurance compliance
    • referring uninsured facility users to a specific web page where they can get an instant quote,  instantly pay, and bind coverage  without any delays or hassles. Their delays and hassles become your delays and hassles.
    • setting your recreation department up in our system so that the certificates of insurance meet your special wording requirements every time, which cuts down on your frustration over certificates that don’t meet your requirements.

The video below walks you through the process in more detail.