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USTA Safe Play

Frequently Asked Questions

Safe Play was implemented by the USTA in order to:
  • Ensure a safe and fun environment for participants to develop their athletic skills;
  • Provide parents with a sense of security when their child is a part of a USTA event;
  • Deter individuals with ill-intentions from participating in a USTA event. 
The background screening element of Safe Play is designed as a preventative measure and cannot guarantee that incidents of inappropriate behavior or criminal activity will not occur. The USTA encourages parents to always play an active role in their child’s athletic development. 
 
Every odd year (2013, 2015, etc.), all officials seeking USTA certification, and all USTA Player Development event coaches, athletic trainers, massage therapists, SmashZone volunteers, and USTA Youth Tennis Workshop Coaches seeking to be contracted by the USTA (National) to perform services or to volunteer for the USTA ("Odd Year Screening") must be in compliance with Safe Play. 
 
For those individuals who are seeking to be a USTA Jr. Team Tennis coach/manager, co-manager, or local/area coordinator that individual’s background screen will expire exactly two years from the date the background screen was initiated. 
 
For those individuals who are a USTA Jr. Team Tennis coach/manager, co-manager, or local/area coordinator as well as serves in any other capacity for the USTA as outlined herein (i.e., as a USTA official or massage therapist), the latter will dictate the expiration date of your background screen.  For example, if you are a USTA Jr. Team Tennis coach and a USTA certified official and have been cleared through the background screen process, your screening will expire the next Odd Year Screening.
 
Once an Applicant has successfully completed the Safe Play educational component as well as the background screen, the Applicant will be considered in good standing until the expiration of their background screen, as applicable; however, if within this period the USTA becomes aware of any potential change in status (i.e., criminal activity), the USTA shall have the right to conduct additional background screening at any time. Additionally, the Applicant is obligated to inform the USTA if there has been any change in their status (i.e., criminal activity). 
 
If you do not comply with the Safe Play, you will not be certified by the USTA (where USTA provides certifications), the USTA will not contract with or permit you to provide services, and you will not be permitted to serve in any capacity for Jr. Team Tennis.
 
The following three components must be fulfilled to be eligible to serve in the above-referenced capacities:
 

ONLINE TRAINING
The USTA has adopted the online training module produced by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). For information on how to access the video, please visit Access the Training located here.  Depending on your knowledge and skillset, the training will take you 90 – 120 minutes to complete.  If you are unable to complete the training at one time, you can return and continue using the account you created.

Jr. Team Tennis Applicants
Effective January 1, 2014 all individuals seeking to be cleared for USTA Jr. Team Tennis are required to participate in the online training module.

All Other Applicants
Effective January 1, 2014, all  Officials seeking USTA certification, USTA Player Development event coaches, massage therapists, athletic trainers, SmashZone volunteers, and USTA Youth Tennis Workshop Coaches are required to participate in the online training module.

 
POLICY REVIEW
Jr. Team Tennis Applicants
Beginning August 1, 2013, if you are a USTA Jr. Team Tennis coach/manager, co-manager or local/area coordinator you are required to review the Youth Protection Policies and Procedures for USTA Jr. Team Tennis.
 
All Other Applicants
Beginning January 1, 2014, all Officials seeking USTA certification, USTA Player Development event coaches, massage therapists, athletic trainers, SmashZone volunteers and USTA Youth Tennis Workshop Coaches are required to review the USTA’s definitions of prohibited conduct and its procedures for reporting and responding. The USTA also encourages all individuals hosting a USTA program or event to read the USTA Safety, Security, and Sensitivity Handbook. A link to the Handbook can be found here.
 
BACKGROUND SCREENING

Once the Applicant has successfully completed the online training and policy review outlined above, he/she can begin to complete their background screen application. The USTA has retained the services of an independent third-party, the National Center for Safety Initiatives (NCSI), to conduct background screenings of all Applicants.

 
Jr. Team Tennis Applicants
Beginning August 1, 2013, if you are a USTA Jr. Team Tennis coach/manager, co-manager or local/area coordinator – please begin your background screen through NCSI here. In your application, you will be required to certify and affirm that you have successfully completed the online training and policy review outlined above.
 
 
All Other Applicants
If you are an Official seeking USTA certification , USTA Player Development event coach, massage therapist, athletic trainer, SmashZone volunteer or USTA Youth Tennis Workshop Coach – please begin your background screen through NCSI here. In the application, you will be required to certify and affirm that you have successfully completed the online training and policy review outlined above.
 
The following offenses are a sampling of what is being screened for when a background check is performed. The USTA does not include an Applicant’s credit information in its background screen.  Reportable convictions for, disclosure of convictions for, and pending dispositions for any of the following criminal offenses, or registrations will prompt a determination that an Applicant does not meet the criteria to be certified by the USTA as an official, or to serve as a USTA coach, athletic trainer, massage therapist, or serve as a USTA Youth Tennis Workshop coach or SmashZone volunteer, or to serve as a USTA Jr. Team Tennis coach/manager, co-manager, or local/area coordinator.
 
1.    Any felony including an element of violence regardless of the amount of time since the offense, and any non-violent felony within the past fifteen (15) years (felony defined as any crime punishable by confinement greater than one year).
a.    Defined on the basis of exposure for the offense for which the defendant was convicted, pled guilty, pled nolo contendere or which is pending a disposition. If pled down, then the crime for which the defendant ultimately was convicted.
b.    Defined as all crimes punishable by greater than one year in jail or prison, regardless of how characterized by jurisdiction. If range, alternate sentencing, or indeterminate sentencing, outer range greater than one year.
2.    Any lesser crime involving force or threat of force against a person regardless of the amount of time since the offense.
3.    Any lesser crime, regardless of the amount of time since the offense, of a sexual nature or classified as a sex offense including but not limited to "victimless" crimes of a sexual nature such as prostitution, pornography, indecent exposure, and crimes in which sexual relations is an element.
4.    Any lesser crime within the past ten (10) years involving controlled substances (not paraphernalia or alcohol).
5.    Any lesser crime within the past fifteen (15) years involving cruelty to animals.
6.    Any sex offender registrant.
7.    Any lesser crime within the past ten (10) years involving harm to a minor not included in numbers 1 – 6 above.
 
Criminal offenses include "Attempted Crimes" in the above classifications.
 
The National Center for Safety Initiatives provides a secure website for individuals to submit their background information for screening. The National Center for Safety Initiatives system provides the highest level of security and is designed to ensure adherence with federal rules and regulations regarding background screening. In order to protect the confidentiality of sensitive information, the background screen process must be completed online.
 
The social security number provides the necessary information (along with your name and date of birth) to produce the most thorough and accurate background screen. Screening based on name, date of birth, address history and social security number is standard throughout the industry.  The Fair Credit Reporting Act is the federal statute that outlines the basic laws and regulations that govern the background screening industry. Please note, that the National Center for Safety Initiatives will not share your social security number with the USTA or any other entity.
If you do not have a social security number, please contact the USTA at safeplay@usta.com.
 
You will still be required to have a background check performed through the USTA. The USTA is unable to rely on information compiled by another organization or agency. As various organizations, businesses, and agencies use different criteria to determine eligibility for approving an individual’s background screen, the USTA cannot rely on those results. 
 
NCSI will send a notice to you via e-mail with the relevant instructions. This notice will come to you from Compliance@ncsisafe.com in the days following your initial application. It is very important that you check your e-mail and respond promptly to this request, since your background screening will be on hold until you respond. Please add ncsisafe.com to your accepted email domain list to receive notifications from NCSI. Additionally, you will be able to see that additional information is needed by checking your status at NCSI's website.
If additional information is needed, NCSI will contact you (via an email from compliance@ncsisafe.com) with two notices:
 
First Notice - generally sent within first three (3) days of your application, requesting additional information or asking you to contact NCSI.
 
Second Notice - sent three (3) to five (5) days after First Notice if response is not received, requesting additional information or asking you to contact NCSI.
 
NCSI will send you a confirmation notice once your information is received and processed.  Processing of this additional information may take up to two business days.
 
During the course of the background screening process, there may be times that NCSI will request identification verification in order to complete the review. Generally, this will occur if there is conflicting information relating to the name(s) and/or date of birth provided, compared with that sourced through the investigative process.  If additional information is needed, you will be required to present a valid form of identification, such as a driver's license, birth certificate, or passport in order to verify your information.  NCSI respects your personal privacy and only requests information that is reasonable and related to the issue being verified.
 
You can check the status of your background screening by logging into www.ncsisafe.com/status. At the time you first register you will receive an e-mail confirmation from NCSI with a unique ID number. This ID number can be used when going to the NCSI site to login to check your status.  You are encouraged to check this site regularly and also as a means of verifying the legitimacy of any e-mail request you may receive.  For security purposes, NCSI does not provide verbal status of background screenings to applicants.
 
Applicants who have successfully passed the USTA background screening process will have their names and zip codes posted on the USTA website as being "accepted and in good standing." Applicants who have successfully gone through Safe Play will generally be posted to this site within five (5) business days.
 
An Applicant’s name will not appear on the USTA’s web site if: 1) he/she has not submitted his/her information for a background screen; or 2) his/her background screen is pending; or 3) he/she has not successfully passed the Biennial Screening due to information revealed during the background screening process as determined by the National Center for Safety Initiatives; or 4) if he/she has not acknowledged that they have participated in the mandatory online training or have read the safety policies in place for their areas (as described in more detail in Question 4).
 
There will be times, particularly if you have a very common name, when a background screening will return information that doesn’t belong to you. When such information results in a "negative" initial screen, you will be advised of the negative information by the National Center for Safety Initiatives and the following guidelines will apply to dispute the initial screen:
 
The National Center for Safety Initiatives will notify you by e-mail of the finding and provide you the opportunity to dispute the negative information.
 
In order to maintain the confidentiality of your screen results do not contact anyone at the USTA.  You must work with the National Center for Safety Initiatives to dispute information.
 
The National Center for Safety Initiatives will generally respond by telephone or via email within 24 hours to discuss the concern and gather the necessary information to research the question.
 
In order to research disputed information in a background screen, the National Center for Safety Initiatives must perform a physical search of records in the county reporting the disputed information. Depending on the county and state, this search could take up to 30 days.
 
Currently, the USTA does not have an appeal process for adverse actions that stem from a determination that an applicant has not passed the Biennial Screening.
 
The USTA has agreed to pay the fee of the Biennial Screening for all Applicants who are members of the USTA in good standing at such time that the Biennial Screening is performed. All Applicants that are USTA Members in good standing will be prompted to enter their valid USTA Membership number during the Biennial Screening process. Applicants who are not USTA Members in good standing are encouraged to become USTA Members prior to the Biennial Screening as Applicants who are not USTA Members in good standing will be responsible for the fees associated with the Biennial Screening ($20 base fee plus transaction fee will be prompted during Biennial Screening process; provided however, additional fees may apply depending on Applicants place of residence and/or should additional information be required by the National Center for Safety Initiatives to complete the Biennial Screening at which time the Applicant will be notified and required to pay any difference). For those individuals serving in any capacity for USTA Jr. Team Tennis, the fee for the Biennial Screening will be included in the fee set forth in TennisLink. Please be advised that the USTA does not financially benefit from the cost of the Biennial Screening.
 
The cost of the online training module is complimentary to all Applicants.
 
If you do not submit to a background screening then you will not be in compliance with USTA Safe Play, and you will not be certified by the USTA (where USTA provides certifications), the USTA will not contract with or permit you to provide services, and you will not be permitted to serve in any capacity for Jr. Team Tennis.
 
Please contact the USTA at safeplay@usta.com.
 
For all questions related to the background screen system, please contact:
The National Center for Safety Initiatives
Phone: (866) 833-7100
 
For all policy-related questions, please contact:
United States Tennis Association
 
 
**Please be advised that the background screening program is subject to change without notice at the sole discretion of the USTA.**
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