Beginning with the start of the 1998-99 season, Minnesota Hockey adopted a new policy to reduce the risk of young players becoming a victim of sexual or physical abuse. To carry out this policy, coaches, referees, board members and officers of Minnesota Hockey and its affiliates were required to consent to random background checks each year. To implement this policy, a new standing committee of Minnesota Hockey was created – the Screening Committee.
In the summer of 2006 the Screening Committee revised the policies and procedures under which screening will be conducted for the 2006-07 season.
Screening consent forms are collected at the time of registration each year from 7000 to 8000 coaches, 2000 to 3000 referees and hundreds of board members, officers and directors. These consent forms are checked for accuracy, and then a random number are selected and sent to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension or other criminal justice database sources for searches of criminal histories.
All of us in Minnesota Hockey should be proud of the success of this program. It has succeeded because of the combined efforts of the local associations, who collect the forms and make sure all required participants turn them in. It has succeeded because the district registrars have made sure that no team was registered without all consent forms received. It has succeeded because of those statewide directors who have submitted all the forms for their districts and have made sure that they were correctly filled out. It has succeeded because Minnesota Hockey has funded the criminal history searches at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars each year. It has succeeded because the Screening Committee, the Minnesota Hockey President and the Board of Directors have fulfilled their duties in hearing appeals of disqualification and, when appropriate, have sustained disqualification under the tough standards the policy set. Over the last three seasons, Minnesota Hockey has screened about 35,000 applicants and has disqualified over three dozen people with serious criminal records from further participation in hockey in Minnesota.
Minnesota Hockey is committed to not only continue the success of this policy, but to making the hockey community and the public-at-large more aware that this organization, because of the concern for the well-being of the kids playing hockey, has committed significant resources and effort to make hockey free of any criminal element, safer for the participants regardless of age and gender, and a shining example of a sport which can and will "clean its own house."
For more information on the Minnesota Hockey screening policy, please don’t hesitate to contact your local Association President or District Director.