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Implementing a Rules-Interpretation Process at Your School [High-School Sports Best Practices Alert (Nov. 2013)]

Author: Justin P. Sievert (Senior Counsel)

One of the many responsibilities of athletics department staff is to timely and efficiently respond to questions regarding state interscholastic athletic association rules and regulations. In order to manage the interpretation process, all questions should be directed to the athletics director or, if available, the athletics compliance officer (collectively referred to in this article as “the athletics department”), which should ultimately be responsible for obtaining, making and documenting all rules-interpretations. In order to effectively implement a rules-interpretations system at your school, Buckner recommends the following process:
 
1. School employees should first seek guidance on athletics rules and regulations from the athletics department. Questions and requests for interpretations may be presented orally or by written request. [Note: Buckner recommends all rules-interpretations requests and questions be submitted via a written request.] All questions and requests should list the pertinent facts at issue, as well as the appropriate bylaws or regulations. Any written request should be made using an interpretation request form developed by the athletics department. These forms should be readily available to all necessary parties.

2. If the rules-interpretations question or request is made orally, the athletics department member receiving the question or request should document it in writing using the interpretation request form and check with the questioning/requesting party that they have recorded the question, or request, accurately.

3. Any responses to rules-interpretations that may be applicable to other school parties should be forwarded to the appropriate parties. In many instances, when one person has a question, generally another person will have the same question.

4. If necessary, the athletics department should consult the state interscholastic athletic association compliance staff for assistance and clarification on rules and regulations.

5. If the interpretation is considered significant, the athletics department should confirm the interpretation with the state interscholastic athletic association compliance staff in writing.

6. The athletics department’s interpretations files should be made readily available to administrators and coaches.

Contact Justin P. Sievert (954-941-1844; jsievert@bucknersportslaw.com) for more recommendations on implementing a rules-interpretation process at your school.