Numerous coaches who have been banned from Olympic-affiliated sports are currently coaching youth sports in some capacity, according to an NBC News report.
The U.S. Center for SafeSport, implemented in 2018 by Congress and the U.S. Olympic Committee, has banned hundreds of coaches from participating in Olympic events or activities, but as NBC News investigated, there aren’t the same safeguards in place to protect kids participating in youth sports from the same coaches.
An analysis from NBC News found that at least 10 who have been criminally charged with sexual misconduct and disciplined by SafeSport appear to be coaching or working with minors. Another 10 are still coaching or working with minors after being banned as a result of an investigation done by either SafeSport or an Olympic governing body, such as USA Swimming. The analysis also found five more who had trained kids after being banned but no longer appear to be doing so.
This illustrates the vulnerability of the estimated 45 million children who participate in youth sports in the U.S., experts say.
“If someone has a history of harming someone within the context of sport, they should not be continuing that role,” David Lee, the director of research and evaluation at Raliance, an organization dedicated to ending sexual violence, told NBC News.
“We want to create systems to be able to ensure that people are safe from harm, and we need to be able to prevent those people from continuing doing that.”
While many states require schools to conduct extensive background checks for incoming teachers and instructors, the same protocols aren’t in place for youth coaches outside of schools. This would include things like little leagues, club teams and independent studios, which don’t fall under SafeSport jurisdiction.
“We need some way to better police sports,” said Elizabeth Letourneau, the director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.
“It is kind of unfortunate that we have to have sort of bespoke strategies, like this group polices Olympic sports and this group polices public education.”
The NBC News report outlines the people who were banned by SafeSport but still appear to be coaching or working with children, which you can find below:
- James Feltus
- Jimmie Baxley
- Thomas Navarro
- Robert Barletta
- Ernest Bolen
- Michael Strickland
- Heather Adams
- Anthony DeSilva
- Charlie Mercado
- Peter Kim