Retroactive Background Checks of Wisconsin High School Sports Employees Reveal Troubling Discovery

By Michael Klazema on 12/5/2013

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Administration (WIAA), the organization in charge of regulating Wisconsin’s statewide high school sports, had never required background checks of its licensed officials until this year. According to a report from a local Fox affiliate, the WIAA has thought about requiring background checks for its statewide volunteers and employees—which include coaches, umpires, referees, judges, and other athletic officials—for years now. However, it took until 2013 for the WIAA to follow through on its aim to require a greater level of screening for high school sporting officials, leading to a retroactive series of background checks for more than 9,000 licensed WIAA officials.

Out of those 9,000 background checks, only two of them led to a loss of licensing privileges. However, while the WIAA found only a small number of serious issues through its background checks, one of them was troubling enough to cause concern for Wisconsin state families and schools with students involved in athletics.

That person served as a “coach, umpire, and licensed official” with the WIAA didn’t just have a Wisconsin state criminal record, but was also on the state’s sex offender list and therefore prohibited by law from working with children or teenagers. The discovery of his troubled past led to both his ejection from the WIAA and his arrest for working too closely to children. Although no reports exist to suggest that this coach made advances on any student during his time as a state sporting official, the scenario has certainly served as a sort of “too close for comfort” situation that will easily justify the WIAA’s decision to require background checks of all licensed officials going forward.

Until now, the WIAA has more or less felt comfortable not requiring officials to undergo background checks. Organization commissioners and athletic directors from many parts of the state traditionally hire officials out of the Green Bay Officials Association, a reputed organization with a history for hiring professional people with clean records. In an interview with the aforementioned Wisconsin Fox affiliate, Tom Senecal of the Green Bay Officials Association described the organization’s predominant membership as “judges, high profile attorneys, a ton of professional people.”

Still, while the Green Bay Officials Association and the WIAA may target only professionals with clean records, Schreiber’s sex offender history proves that, every once in awhile, someone slips through the cracks of the system. A background check policy will help to further alleviate the possibility that criminals or offenders will be able to be licensed with the WIAA. After all, screening processes like the state and nationwide criminal checks or offender registry searches offered by could reliably put another wall of security between criminals and Wisconsin high school athletics.


Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • December 04 Chicago Public Schools has dismissed hundreds of employees, coaches, vendors, and volunteers based on background check findings. The district recently vowed to re-check the majority of its 68,000 employees after a Chicago Tribune investigation revealed holes in its background check policies.
  • November 29 Striving to create a safer environment more conducive to productive training and leadership development, the Army has recently moved to adopt a uniform policy of background checks for certain roles. 
  • November 27 California’s biggest public school district is waiving the cost of volunteer background checks. The move is meant to encourage more family - and community members to get involved with the school district.
  • November 22 Contractors play an important role in the workforce, delivering services to both individuals and organizations. Vetting contractors for suitability continues to be a challenge, as two recent articles prove.
  • November 21 When it comes to background and pre-employment checks, it can be instructive to look at the characteristics of the ten most massive U.S. employers.
  • November 20 The #MeToo movement is bringing about legislative changes employers need to know about. We review some of the laws recently passed in California.
  • November 19

    Will a criminal conviction show up on your background check forever? In most states, there is a year limit for how long background check companies can report older criminal information.

  • November 15

    Replacing an inconsistent array of procedures, Ontario's government has passed into law a reform act intended to clarify how police departments should handle requests for information to be used in background checks. 

  • November 14 The federal government has vowed to cut its backlog of security clearance background checks in half by spring. Currently, the backlog is approximately 600,000 names strong.
  • November 12 To ensure the best hires, DFWSPF has implemented a stringent employee screening process—one that includes background searches through