Penn State’s Becker named to inaugural board of U.S. Center for Safe Sport

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Regis Becker, Penn State’s chief ethics and compliance officer, has been selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee to serve on the board of directors of the newly formed U.S. Center for Safe Sport.

The Center for Safe Sport is spearheading a pioneering effort to address abuse in sports and will be the first national institution dedicated to preserving the safety and well-being of athletes. Its cornerstone services will be rooted in education, and it will deliver actionable tools to both prevent and respond to abuse in sports.

“I am excited and humbled to be able to participate in this extraordinary opportunity to protect young athletes from abuse,” Becker said. “The Center for Safe Sport will employ a comprehensive approach, which includes screening, education and awareness for coaches and athletes, as well as a robust response capability to deal with alleged misconduct. Young athletes in the United States will be better informed and safer as a result of the center’s efforts. The United States Olympic Committee is to be congratulated on its cutting-edge leadership in this critical arena.”

The center’s inaugural nine-member board will guide the independent entity’s launch in 2016 and shape the foundation of the safe sport movement nationally.

“This new board is made up of subject-matter experts and committed professionals dedicated to ensuring that kids from every corner of our country have the opportunity to safely participate in sports,” said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun.

Becker has led efforts at Penn State to develop a model Youth Protection Program to improve the oversight of all youth programs held on Penn State campuses.

Penn State’s program provides a systemic way to address the health, safety and protection of the more than 150,000 minors who participate in academic, athletic and recreational activities offered through the University each year. To that end, Penn State requires background checks for all individuals working or volunteering in youth programs, provides training on how to report suspected child abuse, and mandates the registration of all youth camps, programs and events held on any Penn State campus, as well as off-campus events sanctioned by the University.

“I think my selection is due in no small part to my involvement in the development of Penn State’s excellent Youth Protection Program, which has been a model for higher education nationally,” Becker said.

The Center for Safe Sport’s comprehensive resource base will equip administrators, athletes, parents and coaches with essential tools for combating abuse, while its national awareness campaign will shape public opinion around the issue and serve as the forward face of the prevention movement throughout U.S. sport.

Service terms for the new board members began on Jan. 8. Becker is joined on the board by:

  • Angelo Giardino, senior vice president and chief quality officer, Texas Children’s Hospital
  • Jessica Herrera-Flanigan, executive vice president, government relations and public policy, Univision Communications Inc.
  • Reuben Jones, vice president, strategy and government relations, Strategic Resources Inc.
  • Frank Marshall, film producer and principal, The Kennedy/Marshall Company
  • Julie Novak, vice president of child safety, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
  • Megan Ryther, USA Swimming world championship team member; assistant director, academic and membership affairs, NCAA
  • Fran Sepler, president, Sepler & Associates
  • Connie Smotek, U.S. Olympian; office manager, Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension

Becker is no stranger to amateur athletics. He served on the board of directors of USA Weightlifting from 2008 to 2012, and he’s remained actively involved in Olympic-style weightlifting since, both as coach of the Penn State Olympic Weightlifting Club and as owner of a gym in the Pittsburgh area that focuses on Olympic weightlifting training.

Last Updated January 28, 2016