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A message from USTA CEO Lew Sherr on reviewing policies to ensure safety

January 04, 2024


Our highest priority at the USTA is the safety of all those involved in the sport of tennis.

 

To that end, we seek to hold ourselves to the highest possible standards, embrace industry-leading approaches to prevent harm to athletes and respond to reports of inappropriate conduct, and periodically evaluate our policies and procedures to ensure they are as rigorous and responsive as possible. As part of these ongoing efforts, the USTA has retained David O’Neil and Mary Beth Hogan of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP to review our policies and procedures for preventing, reporting, and responding to reports of abuse, including sexual misconduct.

The Debevoise review is focused on the effectiveness and transparency of both the ways in which the USTA works to keep athletes safe from abuse–such as trainings, background screenings and member communications–and our policies for responding when we receive a report of misconduct. To ensure that Debevoise sees the fullest possible picture and is able to offer recommendations for improvement where appropriate, we are providing Debevoise with full access to employees involved in any way with these aspects of our organization, written materials, and any other information that Mr. O’Neil and Ms. Hogan deem necessary to assess the USTA’s policies and procedures.

 

The USTA chose to work with Debevoise because of their unique, decades-long experience conducting internal and independent reviews for organizations that have similarly sought to evaluate and enhance their safety policies.

To be clear, this is a review of USTA policies, not an investigation of any specific allegations of sexual misconduct. Federal law provides the U. S. Center for SafeSport with exclusive jurisdiction to investigate and resolve such allegations as they relate to participation in sport. As mandatory reporters under the Safe Sport Code, all USTA employees, Board members, Sectional Associations, District Associations, other subdivisions of Sections, and other adults identified by the USTA Safe Play policies are obligated to report any suspicions of child abuse or sexual misconduct to the Center and to the relevant local authority, who then assume responsibility for investigation.

 

If you have information you wish to share regarding the USTA’s policies, procedures, trainings or other opportunities for prevention of inappropriate or abusive conduct, including sexual misconduct, that would assist the Debevoise team in its review, you can reach out to Mr. O’Neil and Ms. Hogan at USTAReview@debevoise.com.

 

As always, we continue to encourage any athlete, member, volunteer or employee who experiences any type of inappropriate or abusive conduct to report that conduct. There are several ways to make such reports, and they can be found here: https://www.usta.com/en/home/safe-play/report-suspicious-activity.html.

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