Physical Assaults on Officials
Policy and Procedures for Southeastern District Officials
Amended August 16, 2016
One of the more disturbing trends in modern society is the tendency by individuals
who feel they have been wronged, or who disagree with decisions of persons in
positions of responsibility, to seek immediate redress of perceived wrongs by
means of violence directed against the source of their frustration. Stories
of physical assaults directed against police officers, teachers, workplace
supervisors and, increasingly, sports officials, have unfortunately, become
staples of the daily news.
To counteract this trend, USA Hockey has implemented a strong national policy to
both protect its officials and eliminate violence from the game. Essentially,
any participant (player, coach, or team official) that is found to have committed a
physical assault on a USA Hockey game official is subject to a minimum one year
Suspension from all USA Hockey games and practices throughout the United States.
This is followed by a one year Probation. A repeat violation during the probationary
period could subject the offender to permanent expulsion.
This summary is provided to all Southeastern District officials to familiarize
them with USA Hockey national policy and establish district-wide procedures for
officials to follow in the event they become the victim of a physical assault.
It should be noted that USA Hockey sanctions relating to assaults on officials
do not extend to spectators and other non-participants. In the event of an assault
by a non-participant, game officials are encouraged to immediately notify local
law enforcement and pursue a criminal or civil complaint. Additionally, the
official should file a USA Hockey Incident Report.
Except for juniors, disciplinary authority for assault cases is exercised by the
USA Hockey affiliate association in which the participant is registered -- not the
participant's home team or league. Affiliate associations in the Southeastern
District and their respective areas of jurisdiction are:
The Potomac Valley Amateur Hockey Association (PVAHA), for incidents involving
players or team officials from Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia.
The Carolina Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA), for incidents involving players or
team officials from North Carolina and South Carolina.
The Southern Amateur Hockey Association (SAHA), for incidents involving players
or team officials from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi,
State Amateur Hockey of Florida (SAHOF), for incidents involving players or
team officials from Florida.
Disciplinary authority for incidents involving junior players or team officials is
exercised by the junior league -- not the home team.
What an Assault Is
A physical assault
by any participant to physically strike, or attempt to strike, a
game official on any part of his or her body, on or off the ice, with a gloved
or ungloved hand, stick, or any other object, and for which a match penalty
(gross misconduct in junior classifications) has been assessed under the
Rule 601 (f.1).
This includes deliberately
shooting a puck and striking an official with the obvious intent of causing
injury. The term “game official” includes both on-ice officials (referees and
linesmen) and off-ice officials (scorekeepers, timekeepers, goal judges, and
penalty box attendants).
What an Assault Is Not
Any non-physical action, including verbal threats to inflict physical harm
on a game official. In such cases, a match penalty under Rule 601 (f.3) is appropriate.
Interfering in any non-physical manner with any game official.
A misconduct should be assessed under Rule 601 (c.6).
Touching or holding (but not striking) a game official with the hands or
stick. A misconduct or game misconduct should be imposed under Rule 601 (d.1).
Attempts to continue an altercation after been ordered to stop, or resists
the linesman (but not striking) in stopping an altercation. A misconduct or
game misconduct should be imposed under Rule 601 (d.2).
Any accidental or incidental physical contact that occurs during the normal
course of play.
What to Do
In the event that an on-ice or off-ice official becomes the victim of a physical
assault by a game participant, it is essential that the referee (in the one
referee/two linesmen or the two referee/two linesmen system) or the senior
referee (in the two-referee system) complete the following process exactly,
within the timeframes specified:
Assess a match penalty to the offender(s) at the time of the incident and
ensure that it is recorded by the official scorer on the game score sheet.
Immediately after the game and before leaving the rink, write a notation on the
score sheet indicating that the match penalty was imposed under the provisions
of Rule 601 (f.1) for a physical assault on an official.
Arrange with rink management to obtain photocopies of the game score sheet;
alternately a photo via a cell phone will suffice. Separate copies should be
made for each official.
Identify any witnesses, other than officiating partners, who could verify or
corroborate the on-ice officials' versions of the incident. This includes
off-ice officials (scorekeeper, timekeeper, etc.), rink employees, and
disinterested spectators. Obtain names, addresses, and telephone numbers
before leaving the rink.
Notify the USA Hockey State Supervisor of Officials of the incident by telephone
as soon as possible, preferably before leaving the rink.
All On Ice Officials shall complete a Southeastern District Referee's Game
Report form via the Southeast District website “ASSAULT ON OFFICIAL” link
In addition to the Rule 601 (f.1)
violation, be sure to list all minor, major, and misconduct penalties related
to the incident and provide complete details of the facts and circumstances,
including a description of events leading up to the incident. Use a separate
sheet to diagram the relative positions of players and officials, if appropriate.
A diagram can be helpful to a hearing board when a participant has gone out
of his way to confront an official.
Ensure that each officiating partner completes a separate Game Report giving
their version(s) of the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident. (The
narrative portion of the Referee's Game Report and the narrative statements by
other members of the officiating team must be written separately and without
The Game Report that is completed via the Southeast District website will
automatically go to the RIC, the Director of Administration, and the State
Supervisor, as well as yourself. Also forward any additional pertinent information,
e.g. items identified in step 4 above, a copy of the game score sheet via
electronic mail attachment(s) within 24 hours, etc. to the Director of
Administration, and the State Supervisor.
The referee assessing the 601 (f.1) penalty shall create a USA Hockey
Incident Report. Details on how to accomplish this can be found at
Please note the following: In the narrative section titled
“Brief Report of Incident”,
insert the following statement only:
“This incident is being investigated
by the SE District R-I-C, and a recommendation will follow.”
What Not to Do
The conduct and actions of game officials during and after any altercation,
dispute, or other potentially volatile situation must meet the highest standards
of competence and professionalism and be beyond challenge or reproach. Know and
abide by the USA Hockey Officials Code of Conduct. Regardless of provocation,
game officials must
Threaten, cajole, insult, entice, incite,
or otherwise “bait” any participant into taking additional penalties or any
physical actions against the official.
Retaliate or threaten retaliation in any
form--verbally or physically.
What Happens Next?
The completed game reports and related information will be screened by the USA
Hockey State Supervisor of Officials to ensure that the incident meets the criteria
for a physical assault and that the proper penalties have been assessed and recorded.
Within the next 24 hours,
the State Supervisor forwards the game report and a
recommendation to the District Referee-in-Chief, who makes the final determination
as to whether the incident constitutes a physical assault on an official.
If the District Referee-in-Chief determines that the incident does not constitute a
physical assault, the matter will be referred back to the State Supervisor for
coordination of disciplinary action with the local league(s) under the appropriate
rule(s). If the District Referee-in-Chief determines that a physical assault on
an official has occurred, the matter will be referred to the governing affiliate
association or junior league.
The governing affiliate association or junior league will appoint a hearing board,
schedule a hearing, and notify the offender(s), officials, and witnesses of the
date, time, and place.
USA Hockey requires this hearing to be conducted within
30 days of the incident, therefore your adherence to these guidelines is imperative.
The hearing board will review the game reports and invite the offender(s), officials,
and other witnesses to describe their versions of events. Questions may be asked by
any member of the board to clarify accounts or resolve inconsistencies.
After the hearing, the board will deliberate and render its decision, which will be
communicated to the participants by mail and to the official(s) by the District
Referee-in-Chief, through the State Supervisor.
There are four questions
that must be satisfactorily answered for the disciplinary committee to uphold the call:
Was contact made or attempted?
If contact was made or attempted, can the
intent of the action be determined?
If the intent can be determined, was the player's action intended to harm the
Official (e.g. If the official breaks up an altercation, and receives an elbow in
doing so, by no intent of the player, this is not deemed to be a Match penalty)?
You must be able to answer YES to all three of these questions
in order to assess a Match penalty.
If the players action was intended to harm the official, did any prior actions of
the official contribute to the penalty being called?
If you answer YES to this question, then there is no intent,
and consequently, no Match penalty.
If You Are Summoned to a Hearing...
A member of the Southeastern District Officiating Program staff will be
present as your advocate.
Act and look professional. A coat and tie is always appropriate attire.
Give your version of events objectively and dispassionately. Ensure that your
comments are consistent with your game report.
Do not editorialize your comments, i.e.
provide only the facts of the incident as you saw them.
When asked questions, answer them directly and without emotion.
Do not interrupt, contradict, or take issue with any other individual's comments.
The hearing board will invite rebuttal statements at an appropriate time.
Avoid approaching or having informal
conversations with hearing board members so as to prevent the appearance of
A Final Word...
Nothing in these policies or procedures prevents an official who has been
assaulted from pursuing criminal or civil complaints through the local
courts. There is no USA Hockey policy on this matter. Such decisions,
therefore, are left entirely to the discretion of the affected official(s).