Background Screening In School Sports by SSC, Inc.


Background checks ensure the safety of everyone on the job and routinely help protect companies from liability. However, there is one industry where background checks are rare and for the most part, ignored. The industry is sports. Whether it is at the amateur or professional level, background checks are not being conducted as often as they should be and that potentially puts people at risk.


Many schools and sports organizations do not conduct background checks on their coaches or their players. In a recent article on, Sports Illustrated conducted an investigation that revealed that out of the Nation's top 25 college football programs; only two conduct background checks on their players. In addition, the article, Study: Background Checks are Rare, revealed that seven percent of the 2,837 players on the rosters of these schools did have a criminal record. That seven percent translates to 204 individuals that have had a run in with the law that their schools were not aware of.


These are prestigious colleges and universities that have created a liability for themselves that could have easily been avoided. Among the schools listed in the article were "Pittsburgh, Arkansas, Iowa, Boise State, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, Florida State, Miami, Ohio State, Florida, Oregon, Southern California, Alabama, North Carolina, Cincinnati, Utah, Nebraska, Georgia Tech, Oregon State, LSU, Texas and Stanford." Ignoring players and coach's criminal past creates a possible risk for other players on that team, while conducting a simple background check can eliminate that risk.


One of the schools listed was Penn State, now under fire and dealing with a major scandal that has decimated the university's reputation. A long-standing coach for Penn State's top 25 football team has been accused of sexually abusing young boys through his charitable programs. While no prior criminal records would have been found in this particular situation, it is possible that reference checks may have found prior concern about suspected misconduct.


For those saying that they have neither the time nor the resources to conduct such checks, outsourcing to an investigation and pre-employment screening company is an efficient way to ensure that your liability is reduced.


Parents do not want their children playing for coaches with a criminal record of violating trust. "Bringing the background screening process online offers a convenient and affordable solution for our organizations to ensure the protection and safety of all athletes at the amateur level," commented Mike Johnson, Vice President of Goalline Sports Administration Systems.


Of course, we can't paint everyone with a criminal past to be of concern. There are many who have made a mistake in the past and the offense has no bearing on the current assignment. However, we owe it to our families, our communities, and to ourselves to review the criminal history of each person playing or coaching with our loved ones to include the identification of active warrants for arrest and concerning conditions of probation for applicable convictions. This includes driver history and license validation as coaches are known to transport players in many organizations.


Conducting legal background checks on players and coaches independently or through various vendors is now a necessity in the sports world. Other organizations that utilize volunteers for supporting youth activities should also consider this approach. SSC can help guide you through your investigative options by calling 1-800-360-3688, x6192.

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