We are quickly approaching the Annual Summer Congress for USA Hockey. At this time of year, every year, many important issues will be discussed. But one issue could have a dramatic effect on Tier III hockey players and parents finances moving forward.
When dealing with Tier III teams, you are making financial agreements. Those agreements are usually for high dollar amounts. Little protections are offered to any family signing these agreements and little recourse is available to parents when teams do not make good on their end of the contract.
A rule change proposal submitted by the USPHL, which is written to effect every USA Hockey Tier III league, has been submitted that is quite frankly unconscionable as it would further limit the ability to get money returned to the parent or player if things didn’t work out.
It is bad enough now that teams can keep prorated portions of money paid to them based on percentages set when Tier III was not so over saturated. A percentage standard based on a calendar that states;
Players are due a 50% refund of the full tuition if they leave the team before October 31st.
Players to receive a 30% refund from November 1st through December 31st.
After January 1, there is no refund due.
The new rule being proposed by the USPHL would only give you a 50% refund until September 30th, and NO REFUND AFTER OCTOBER 1ST!
Now, what does this say about the state of Tier III hockey? Is it really “all about the kids”? It looks a lot more like “its all about the money”.
The official reasoning?
“To provide better justification upon player movement within Junior Tier 3 hockey. Players are no moving on a “whim” where they are not in first place, on the first line, etc. Tampering is becoming to prevelant as leagues and teams within leagues are offering deals and using the player bill of rights to creat financial incentives for player movement. In all youth contracts-Mites-Midgets, players are not offered a refund and in many instances the costs of hockey is greater than Junior Tier 3 hockey.
This allows refunds for players who are going home as they have decided this level of hockey is not for them. However, all the other games being played requires and adjustment to be made on behalf of the Owners/Coaches to maintain order on their rosters and to allow budgets to be achieved.”
While I know the person who wrote the proposal, I can not believe anyone would submit anything like this and suggest it become a rule. If teams did the right things refunds would not be an issue. If you think you can take money and not deliver the agreed to product, you will have a hard time defending that in court.
I can offer unique insight into why the rule change proposal is being made. One of my clients is currently, and for the last seven months, has been battling through USA Hockey to get the refund that is due to him under the existing rules from a USPHL team. The team has yet to return the money owed even when actual proof exists stating the player was released before October 31st.
While Tier III hockey can be great for some players and there are some great owners out there, if you are not careful you can get taken for a financial ride.
Stay tuned for more reports on the summer meetings next week.
Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher