USAV Board Meeting Focuses on Diversity, SafeSport

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | June 02, 2018, 8:37 p.m. (ET)

USA Volleyball Board of Directors at May 2018 Meeting
USA Volleyball Board of Directors met May 16 in Lincoln, Nebraska, in conjunction with the opening week of FIVB Volleyball Nations League.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 2, 2018) - The USA Volleyball Board of Directors held its annual meeting May 16 in conjunction with the inaugural week of women's competition in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Board recognized two outgoing members, John Hughes representing the Regional Volleyball Associations, and Andy Reitinger representing the Junior Assembly. Over the next few weeks, the Board will welcome as many as six new or returning members in various constituent areas including two Independent members and two athletes.

Reitinger will now assume the duties as chair of the USAV Foundation. He will shift his focus to continue working closely with Jamie Davis and staff to focus on fundraising and development efforts for USAV.

The Board continued its review and implementation of best practices within the governance structure in line with the corporate reorganization by Davis. One of the main areas of interest is a focus on diversity and inclusion throughout the corporation and the governance structure. Highlighting this point was the official announcement of a strategic partnership with the Ross Initiative in Sports and Equality (R.I.S.E.). R.I.S.E. was present at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League matches held in Lincoln with its nationwide "It Takes All Colors" campaign where spectators could take the pledge to speak out against racism, participate in educational programs, and support victims. For more information on USA Volleyball’s partnership with R.I.S.E., click here.

In addition to the emphasis on diversity and inclusion, the Board also reviewed the corporation’s ongoing efforts to work closely with the U.S. Center for SafeSport. USA Volleyball was one of the first national governing bodies to adopt the SafeSport principles and long before the implementation of SafeSport within the national governing body structure. The staff and Board of USA Volleyball are 100% SafeSport certified.

Davis reported on several new international competitions USA Volleyball will add to its domestic national team schedule, including the 2019 NORCECA World Cup Men's and Women's Qualifier and a commitment as a permanent member in the new FIVB Volleyball Nations League featuring the top 16 nations in the world. USA Volleyball hosted the first round of women's competition in Lincoln from May 15-17, and will host men's matches at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, from June 15-17. Davis also reported another round of changes to the USA Volleyball organizational chart with the announcement of new key positions to be hired within the next few months.

The Board held a major discussion regarding the treatment of officials at USAV-sanctioned events, particularly incidents of unsportsmanlike conduct towards certified officials as well as junior players in the performance of officiating duties at national and regional tournaments. Sue Mailhot, officials' representative and a member of the NORCECA refereeing commission, reported an increase in cases of verbal and even physical abuse at national events including those sanctioned by other sports bodies. In some cases, it is found to be parents verbally abusing junior players while performing their line judging responsibilities.

"It is unacceptable to allow mistreatment of any person involved in officiating or any tournament official, even worse when we hear of cases where parents and spectators are verbally abusing young athletes,” USA Volleyball Board of Directors Chair Lori Okumura said. “Officials are a major component of the foundation on which our national events are based. Every sports organization in the U.S. is dealing with the problem of losing skilled officials to retirement, and the lack of new officials entering the sport due to poor experiences involving verbal and physical abuse or bullying. This must stop."

Dr. Cecile Reynaud, the coaching representative to the Board, is leading a task force of coaches in beach, indoor and sitting volleyball to evaluate new opportunities and ideas in coaching education to enhance the Coaching Accreditation Programs offered by USA Volleyball. The task force made a preliminary proposal to work more closely with the Regional Volleyball Associations to identify additional curriculum components and skill development concepts to be added to an eventual national discussion of coaches in all three disciplines to develop more consistent tactics for future education modules.

A major ongoing topic on the agenda has been a governance review that began in October 2016. The Board, supported by the Governance Committee, has been evaluating selection of positions, the work of the Nominating Committee and the composition of constituent groups and assemblies. Emphasis is being placed on diversity and inclusion, and an attempt to broaden the nominating pool from which Board members are recruited. Of interest are the areas of Coach Director and Beach/High Performance Director and the Beach At-Large and Development Director positions where selection is made by a smaller group of constituents. In addition, the Board is conducting a review of conflict of interest policies including addressing specific cases.

The next USA Volleyball Board of Directors meeting will be held August 25-26 in Anaheim, California. Anaheim is the official Host City of the U.S. Women’s and Men’s National Indoor Teams who will be training for the FIVB World Championship to take place in September and October.