In order to clarify some of these mistaken beliefs and rumors, please consider the following Q&A.
1. May a PLAYER who participates within AAU Hockey programs, later participate within USA Hockey?
YES. It would be a violation of both United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and even USA Hockey policies for any directors, officers or employees of USA Hockey or its affiliates to penalize anyone for their participation within AAU Hockey. To help clarify this point, please consider that the USA Hockey legal counsel has issued the USA Hockey Guidelines Regarding Non-Sanctioned Play. It is important to publicize this policy, which states in part that:
“Any Individual Participant may become a member of USA Hockey. Membership in or registration with another sanctioning body may not be used as a basis to deny membership in USA Hockey, its Affiliates or local programs. Correspondingly, no Individual Participant may be penalized for participating in a program that is not sanctioned by USA Hockey. … ”
2. May a COACH who participates within AAU Hockey programs, later participate within USA Hockey?
YES. Essentially for the same reasons as stated above. The Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act [Title 36 USC 220522(a)7] doesn't merely protect the membership rights of youth players. The Act protects all Individual Participants and requires that a amateur sport organization is eligible to continue to be recognized as a national governing body only if it:
“ … demonstrates that its membership is open to any individual who is an amateur athlete, coach, trainer, manager, administrator, or official active in the sport for which recognition is sought, or any amateur sports organization that conducts programs in the sport for which recognition is sought, or both; … ”
3. May an INDIVIDUAL PARTICIPANT (such as a player or coach) participate within both AAU Hockey programs and USA Hockey programs at the same time?
YES. At times this can be somewhat confusing. However, the easiest way to explain this is to simply note that the AAU and USA Hockey are separate organizations. AAU can not control what its members do within outside organizations (such as while participating within USA Hockey) and similarly USA Hockey can not control what its members do outside of USA Hockey. For obvious examples, USA Hockey members may chose to participate within other organizations such as the Boy Scouts, YMCA and even within other sports organizations such as: AAU Inline Hockey, Little League Baseball, or with school Football and/or Soccer programs. AAU Hockey is no different.
4. May an entire TEAM participate within AAU Hockey programs and USA Hockey programs at the same time?
YES and NO. Obviously, this answer needs some further explanation. It is important to note that from an AAU Hockey perspective this is fine.
However, USA Hockey and/or its District affiliates currently prohibit a TEAM rostered within their organization from participating within programs that are not sanctioned by USA Hockey (at least as that same TEAM). Yet as previously addressed, INDIVIDUAL PARTICIPANTS may compete within both organizations, ever during the same season. The distinction apparently being that INDIVIDUAL PARTICIPANTS have individual rights, yet a TEAM rostered within USA Hockey is an affiliate.
Of course, despite the distinction mentioned above, nothing prohibits a group of INDIVIDUAL PARTICIPANTS from banding together to also form as a group outside of USA Hockey. So clearly a group of PLAYERS and COACHES may become USA Hockey members and participate on their USA Hockey rostered team, in accordance with USAH procedures and rules. Likewise, the entire group of INDIVIDUAL PARTICIPANTS (or a portion of them) may also become members of the AAU, form their own CLUB (team) and then participate on their AAU rostered CLUB (team), in accordance with AAU Hockey procedures and rules.
When such a group of INDIVIDUAL PARTICIPANTS competes within a USA Hockey sanctioned practice, game, league or tournament then they are doing so as a USA Hockey rostered team and should comply with the rules and regulations of that organization.
When such a group of INDIVIDUAL PARTICIPANTS competes within a AAU Hockey sanctioned practice, game, league or tournament then they are doing so as a AAU Hockey rostered CLUB and should comply with the rules and regulations of that organization.
5. May an AAU CLUB (team) compete against a USA Hockey rostered TEAM?
YES and NO. Obviously, another explanation is needed. From the perspective of an AAU team, YES (provided that the AAU players and coaches have elected the extended benefits ‟AB‟ membership option). There is no rule within AAU prohibiting an AAU
Hockey team from competing against a USA Hockey rostered team. In addition, the AAU extended benefits (AB) membership option provides insurance benefits to an AAU CLUB (team) and its properly registered AAU members during competitions, including non-sanctioned events. Such as while playing against a USA Hockey rostered team or against Canadian teams, tournaments, etc.
However, USA Hockey and/or its District affiliates currently prohibit a USA Hockey rostered team from competing within a non-sanctioned event. Therefore, it is important to be aware that USA Hockey may not insure a team rostered within their organization while playing against an AAU CLUB.
6. May an AAU CLUB (team) compete against a Canadian team and/or on Canadian soil (ice)?
YES (provided that the AAU players and coaches have elected the extended benefits ‟AB‟ membership option). Any Canadian team, league or tournament willing to compete with an AAU CLUB may do so. Some rostered and/or sanctioned through Hockey Canada may refuse to play against AAU teams. However, some will and there are other governing bodies operating within Canada.
FYI, it is important to note that Canadians may join AAU and there are already Canadians members participating within AAU Hockey. The Canadian Independent Hockey Federation (CIHF) is now operating within the AAU. Clearly, CIHF teams may now compete within AAU tournaments and/or scrimmages here in the US and our US- based teams may compete within CIHF tournaments and scrimmages.
For more information about the CIHF please see: www.cihfhockey.com
7. What forms does everyone need to fill out?
Simply register your Club, Coaches and Players and then print the Club list when everyone is a member. Please print and carry your Club list and Birth Certificates with the team for any AAU game, scrimmage, tournament, practice or event.
Optional: Teams may ask for a formal roster, an XLS is available that can be filled in by teams and submitted to me, which I then verify for proper current memberships and return a signed copy to the team usually within a day. These are handy for tournaments. In addition, your league may make a rule requiring these rosters.
Optional: Consent to Treat and other optional form are available for download on the www.hockey-michigan.org website. Please do not turn them in. These are only for your team, if you choose to use them.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: There is a new law here in Michigan concerning CONCUSSIONS within youth sports. Among other things this law requires that (1) coaches undergo a specific online training session about concussions, (2) parents be given certain informational documents about concussions, (3) youth sports organizations maintain receipts from parents certifying that they have received such materials, and (4) participants supply a medical clearance to return following any concussion-like injury. The AAU State Hockey Director is currently compiling a package including all of the required documents and developing a procedure for compliance.
8. Who signs and what are the steps required for an official roster?
As addressed above, a Team List is adequate for play (although your league or tournament may require a more formal roster), if a formal roster is desired then currently I sign the roster as the State Director.
USA Hockey Policy: Retaliation & Threats Regarding Non-USAH Programs
Since AAU Hockey began, there have been rumors and some reports of pressure and threats of retaliation against those participating within AAU Hockey by officials of USA Hockey and its affiliates.
However, USA Hockey may not permit anyone under their control (including their District and/or Local Affiliates, Leagues or Associations) to punish, threaten, blackball or to otherwise make ineligible for USA Hockey participation or benefits any Players, Coaches and/or Referees based upon their participation within another entity, such as the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU).
To clarify this point, the USA Hockey legal counsel has issued the USA Hockey Guidelines Regarding Non-Sanctioned Play. It is important to publicize this policy, which states in part that:
“Any Individual Participant may become a member of USA Hockey. Membership in or registration with another sanctioning body may not be used as a basis to deny membership in USA Hockey, its Affiliates or local programs. Correspondingly, no Individual Participant may be penalized for participating in a program that is not sanctioned by USA Hockey. ...”
These same Guidelines go into great detail explaining that referees are also protected from retaliation and/or reprisals. Referees are not USAH referees or AAU referees, they are simply referees. USA Hockey considers referees to be independent contractors. Referees can and do work across programs without fear of reprisal. Actually they always have, working Pro, Semi- Pro, NCAA, High School and USAH games, as well as AAU games.
Reporting Violations of these Guidelines or denial of the opportunity to compete
All amateur hockey participants within the US (regardless of whether they are USA Hockey or AAU members) have the right to address such complaints to USA Hockey. In fact, the USA Hockey legal counsel has asked to be informed about violations of the policies above. The USA Hockey legal counsel is: Casey Jorgensen (719) 538-1143
AAU Hockey members and/or those being pressured to avoid AAU Hockey should also report such violations to AAU Hockey national chairperson Keith Noll at: (715) 231-4000
You may also contact the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Athlete Ombudsman for assistance and/or guidance in pursuing complaints. The USOC Athlete Ombudsman website can be found at: www.athleteombudsman.org or contact
John W. Ruger - Athlete Ombudsman
1 Olympic Plaza, Colorado Springs, CO 80909