You Don’t Always Have to Listen to Your Coach

Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes


  • Most universities do not have a screening policy in place for their athletic programs
  • Creating a background screening policy and a decision matrix that includes what will and will not be tolerated and what penalties should be enforced for the offense a student athlete may have done
  • Have the policy reviewed by legal counsel
  • Find a background screening company that suits your needs
  • When you find that background screening company, ensure that they have a training and compliance program to assist you in learning about your new screening services


“RUN, RUN, RUN!! IS THAT ALL YOU GOT?! PUSH YOURSELF!” Coaches, they sure can get pretty loud. They’re always demanding things that you usually have to do, or it means more laps! But what if I told you that you don’t always have to listen to your coach? Because when it comes to screening your student athletes, listening to your coach isn’t always the best option.

What Am I Talking About?

Did you know that most college universities don’t have an athlete screening program? Studies show that only 2% percent screen some of their athletes, 1% of universities screen their transfer athletes, (only screening one or two sports) and even fewer are screening all of their athletes. So what are the schools that aren’t screening their athletes doing? They’re listening to their coaches. But how exactly is that working out?

Over the past two years, nearly 600 college athletes have been arrested. Those numbers are scary. So, what do we do about it? It all starts with a strong screening program. For years we’ve trusted our coaching staff to make these decisions and, determine whether or not an athlete’s criminal history or character should prevent them from being recruited. But with nearly 600 college athletes arrested over the past two years, maybe it’s time to consider another way of doing things. “But I haven’t had any incidents at my school! Why would I need to do anything different? Our school’s athletes are phenomenal students and even better role models.” So maybe that’s true. Your school hasn’t had any incidents or arrest, but let’s talk about why you’re still at risk.

What’s At Risk?

So you don’t believe you need to screen your athletes. That’s one route to go. But have you considered what you’re risking? When a student athlete is involved in an incident it’s embarrassing for the university and can become a public relations nightmare. But that’s just where it begins, the student may be suspended, not just from athletics, but from the university. Possibly even expelled. But what if the student athlete has displayed this behavior before? Maybe the coach that recruited them let it slide because of the great talent they bring to the team, or maybe the coach just truly didn’t know about it. There has been countless times incidents like these have happened, and it leaves the university embarrassed and looking for a solution.

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Wouldn’t it have been nice for you to have known this information before hand? To be equipped with everything you should know about the athletes you’re bringing to your university? We’re not saying kids who have made mistakes don’t deserve second chances, but you don’t want to be blindsided with news of your star quarterback having a checkered past. Because now your university is embarrassed, and possibly, your other students may not have been safe. That’s what it truly comes down to. Having all the information you should about your student athletes is important for the safety of your students. You should know as much as you’re able to about the athletes you bring onto your campus.

Here’s How You’re Supposed To Do It

Unfortunately we’re seeing a growing trend in arrests among college athletes. Schools may be able to stop this trend by screening their student athletes and learning more about the athletes they’re bringing into their schools. So how are you supposed to implement a screening process? What are the first steps? Well don’t worry, we got you covered! Below are all the steps you’ll need to get you started on the right track for implementing a screening process for you student athletes.

  1. Creating a background screening policy and a decision matrix that includes what will and will not be tolerated, and what penalties should be enforced for the offense a student athlete may have done.
  2. Have this policy reviewed by legal counsel.
  3. Find a background screening company

Below are a few questions you should consider when considering a third-party screening vendor.

  • Does your vendor conduct live criminal record searches?
  • Does your vendor conduct criminal database searches?
  • Does your vendor provide cases that resulted in dismissals or acquittals that can be used in a recruiting decision?
  • Does your vendor test and audit your records to make sure they meet industry standards?
  • Does your vendor provide free consulation and education on the FCRA and other regulations that govern criminal records?
  • Does your vendor have an online account management system?
  • Does your vendor have an FCRA management system, where clients can collect releases and send out adverse action letters?
  • Is your vendor accredited by NAPBS (National Association of Professional Background Screeners)?
  1. Once finding said background screening company, ensure that they have a training and compliance program to assist you in learning the ins and outs of your new background screening services.

Making sure you keep your college students safe while still bringing in the best student athletes can be tough. But it doesn’t have to be. Knowing is half the battle, and it all starts with good information and knowing your athlete’s history. You’re not able to be knowledgeable, confident or defensible if you’re not collecting information in an accurate and compliant way. Having that extra information and ensuring you’re bringing the best athletes into your program is how you’re supposed to do it.

Closing Thoughts

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