1997 Governing Council Preview

The officials and representatives of USFSA clubs will meet the week of May 5th to consider bylaws changes and rules revisions for the coming season. Because ISU congresses are only held in even numbered years, the rules for conducting junior and senior level competitions will see few changes. Nevertheless, for other events and in areas related to operation of the Association several significant proposals are up for consideration. We review below some of the major issues and proposals to be voted upon next week. Following the meeting we will provide details for the proposals which are passed.


Numerous editorial changes to bring the bylaws into compliance with USOC requirements and the Amateur Sports Act of 1978 - mostly in the area of non-discrimination statements and 20% athlete involvement in Association governance.  The most significant change here - which is not required by the USOC or the Sports Act - give the athletes a 20% vote at future Governing Councils.  Currently athletes serve on all committees and on the Board of Directors with 20% representation.  This change would extend 20% representation to the Governing Council.  This would be accomplished by giving the athletes present at the meeting sufficient proxies that they would constitute  20% of a vote.  I practice the 20% representation could be assigned to a single athlete.  Since the USFSA is an association of member clubs, and not individuals, this would constitute a major change in the nature of the Association.

On an editorial note we would comment that the athletes who would vote the 20% representation primarily represent the handful of elite athletes in the Association and not the tens of thousands of athletes at the novice level and below who are represented through their parents who serve as club representatives to the Governing Council and as judges and officials.  This change would represent a major shift in power away from the clubs and the typical younger skater in the Association, and towards the clique of elite athletes who dominate the Athletes Advisory Committee.  This would, for example, put virtual veto power over bylaw changes into the hands of about 10 individuals.

More bureaucracy wrangling over who appoints the Finance Committee members.  (This is not the first time around for this one.)

Two proposals to bring the bylaws into compliance with the way contracts are actually handled by the Association.  Currently the bylaws require the President and Secretary sign all contracts.   In practice this is not how it has been done for many years. These changes would codify into the bylaws the current way contracts are handled - small contracts signed by the Executive Director and large contracts signed by the President and approved by the Board of Directors, or Executive Committee.

Five alternate proposals dealing with requirements for the handling of contract approval and signing.  The group making these proposals tried last year to change the bylaws to force Association officials and representatives to conform to the actual written requirements in the bylaws and to make them accountable to the Governing Council for their actions.  This was turned down, it being argued that the large number of small contracts required for the daily operation of the Association could not practically be handled by the President and Secretary with oversight from the Governing Council on every contract.  This set of proposals attempts a compromise that would allow the handling of small contracts as they are currently handled (as described in the preceding paragraph) but would require greater accountabily of Association management in the handling of large contracts through the Board of Directors, Executive Committee, or Governing Council.  Association management is strongly opposed to these proposals again arguing that they would interfere with management's ability to operate the Association in a businesslike fashion.  Given a careful reading of these proposals it appears this argument is a smoke screen to obscure the real issue which in these proposals is the question of accountability and control over who gets to approve the large, multimillion dollar, contract the Association enters into.

Bureaucracy regarding quorums for meetings held via teleconference.

It is proposed to remove the Sponsorship Committee as a permanent committee.

Bureaucracy to redefine the jurisdiction of the Sports Medicine Committee.

More bureaucracy dealing with grievance procedures.

Even more bureaucracy involving membership categories.

Athletes Advisory Committee

A new rule to define who may elect representatives to the Athletes Advisory Committee is proposed - essentially defining who is an "athlete" under the Association rules.  An athlete would be anyone who has competed at the junior or senior level at the US Nationals, US precision Nationals or who competed internationally for the US in the past 10 years.  The responsibilities of the committee would be redefined to expand its role as an advocacy group for the athletes.   

Competitions Committee

Sectional Intermediate winners would not have to qualify at Regionals the following year if they stay at the same level.

To receive a bye from Sectionals to Nationals a skater would have to demonstrate a reasonable chance of placing in the top six a Nationals.

The rules regarding participation of non-US citizens would be revised to bring them into conformance with ISU rules.  This would include eliminating the current requirement that non-US citizens cannot be named to the US Olympic, World or Jr. World Team.

Juvenile and intermediate figure events to be eliminated from qualifying competitions this year, and junior and senior events following this season.

A change to the dances to be skated in the initial round of novice dance events is proposed.  This would go into effect for the 1998/99 season.

Precision Competition Subcommittee

No major changes

International Committee

No major changes

Judges Committee

A proposal to provide a stipend to officials at Nationals and qualifying competitions for the 1997/98 season.

No new figure judges to be appointed after this year's meeting.  If a need for figure arises in the future, figure judges would be appointed from among skaters who have passed the fifth test or above.

A process to improve judges accountability for Nationals judges would be established.

A proposal to exempt national precision judges from being required to have earned a low singles/pairs or bronze dance appointment by Sep. 1, 1998.

A new category of World Precision Judge would be created.

Trial judging at figure events would no longer be required.

The most significant changes to the judges rules involve the compete revision of the test and competition appointment structure and the requirements to obtain an appointment.  The number of test and competition levels would be reduced.  A person could begin trial judging at age 14 and could receive a judges appointment at age 16.  A new category of "super accelerated judges" would be established.  This category, to be known as Select Candidates would consist of persons who have passed their gold test in figures, singles, pairs or dance.  These candidates would be immediately handed gold test and novice competition appointments, and would be eligible for a senior competition appointment after one year.

Membership Committee

Mostly bureaucracy.

Precision Skating Committee

A club would be permitted to enter more than one team in the same division.

The rhythm requirement would be removed from he music requirements for novice and lower events.

A Sanctions and Eligibility Committee

The ESIP program would be eliminated.  This program, which allows skaters to earn money as coaches and still retain their eligibility, would be replaced by opening up the eligibility rules to allow coaching as a permitted activity.  Eligible skaters would be allowed to coach through their test level without restrictions.  Eligible skaters who coach , however, would not be permitted to judge or trial judge.

Singles and Pairs Committee

Element number 6 of the Pre-Juvenile Moves in the Feild test would become element 5 in the Preliminary Test.

A new schedule of Adult freeskating tests to become effective July 1, 1997.

A new Preliminary Pair test would be established.

The juvenile through senior pair tests would be revised.

The novice pairs short program for the 1998/99 season would include a double loop and a forward inside death spiral for the required double jump and death spiral.

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