Athletic Code of Conduct

Letter from the Athletic Director

Dear Parents/Guardians and Students:

Welcome to the Berne-Knox-Westerlo Interscholastic Athletic/Extra- Curricular programs. This handbook has been prepared to be used as a reference by our student-athletes, extra-curricular students, and their parents/guardians in an effort to define responsibilities as they pertain to the rules and regulations, as well as the guidelines for participation in our interscholastic athletic/extra-curricular programs.

Nationwide studies have shown that students involved in extra-curricular programs, such as interscholastic sports and clubs, achieve better grades, manage their time more effectively, have less discipline problems, and stay in school.

When a student chooses to participate in our athletic program or activities, he/she has committed his/herself to certain responsibilities and obligations. This handbook will acquaint you with some of the specific policies/rules that are necessary for a well-organized program of interscholastic athletics.

The Berne-Knox-Westerlo interscholastic athletic program is governed by the regulations of the New York State Commissioner of Education’s basic code for extra-class athletic activities. In addition, Berne-Knox-Westerlo is a member of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA), Section II, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference Southern Division.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns regarding the Berne-Knox-Westerlo athletic program. We look forward to working with you to ensure that you take advantage of the tremendous opportunities athletics can provide.

Tom Galvin
Athletic Director

Sports Levels

Modified (Grades 7 & 8 and 9)

This program is available to students in the 7th, 8th and 9th grade between the ages of 12 and 15. A student reaching the age of 16 at any time prior to or during a sport season must play junior varsity or varsity. Sport activities offered are determined by existence of leagues, student interest, and relationship to the high school program and board approval. At this level the focus is on learning athletic skills and “game rules”, fundamentals of team play, socio-emotional growth, physiologically appropriate demands on the adolescent body, and healthy competition. At this level there may be limitations on the number of students on one team. This program is designed to offer students the opportunity to engage in a more highly organized competitive experience than what is found in intramural or recreation programs, but not as involved as those found on JV or regular varsity teams. An attempt will be made by all coaches to give all team members meaningful contest participation over the course of a season.

Junior Varsity (JV)

This program is intended for those who display the potential of continued development into productive varsity level performers. Team membership varies according to the structure of each sport, but sophomores and freshman occupy the majority of the roster positions. Juniors may be eligible for the junior varsity program in certain instances. Also, 7th and 8th graders who have satisfied all the selection classification requirements may be included. At this level there may be limitations as to the number of students on the team. At this level increased emphasis is placed upon elements and strategies of team play, physical conditioning, refinement of fundamental skills, and “socio-emotional” development. The JV program works towards achieving a balance between continued       team and player development and victory. The outcome of the contest becomes a “consideration” at this level. An attempt will be made to play all participants, however equal playing time is neither required nor expected. With the goal of becoming a varsity athlete clearly in sight, a high level of dedication and commitment is expected at the junior varsity level.


The varsity level of interscholastic sports is the culmination of the high school athletic program. Normally, seniors and juniors make up the majority of the roster; however, gifted sophomores and freshmen may be considered. It is also possible for 7th and 8th graders that meet the selection requirements to be included on a varsity roster. At this level there may be limitations as to the number of students on the team. Team play, sportsmanship, individual physical ability, motivation, and mental attitude are all very important aspects of competition at this level. While contest participation over the course of the season is desirable, a specified amount of playing time is not guaranteed. It is vital that each team member has a role and knows its importance. Preparing to win and striving for victory in each contest are worthy goals of a varsity level team. The varsity coach is the leader of his/her sport program and is responsible for communication and system development among each level.

Risk Factors

Participation by a student in an extracurricular activity may involve a certain degree of risk of physical injury. Such physical injury can occur in any type of activity, be it a “contact” or “non-contact”. Furthermore, many injuries are truly accidental in nature and by volunteering to participate in a school-sponsored activity, a student and his/her parents/guardians assume the risks for injuries to occur.


The Selection Classification program is a process for screening student-athletes in grade 7 and 8 to determine readiness to compete at a higher level of competition (varsity or junior varsity) than their current grade level. It is based on readiness, rather than grade level. This program has been designed to assess a student- athlete’s physical maturation, physical fitness, and skill.  This program is intended for the exceptional few in each school who would be better served playing on a higher level than age or grade might indicate. Parents who wish for their child to be considered for this program should contact the Athletic Director and Middle School Nurse. Information must be collected and evaluated by the Director of Athletics/Physical Education before a student may try out for a team.

Considerations that must be met include:

  1. Recommendation for inclusion in this process will come from coaches, Athletic Director, and physical education
  2. Parental permission Medical examination and approval by the school/family physician with the development or maturity level determined by the school/family physician in accordance with established guidelines for the level of a particular
  3. The six-item athletic performance test must be administered by a physical education teacher or by the Director of Athletics/Physical The athlete must meet or exceed the criteria established for the level of participation desired.
  4. The individual’s prior experience and skill level is judged on the demands of the sport at the level of play at which the student is seeking to


It is the duty of all concerned with middle/high school athletics:

  1. To emphasize the proper ideals of sportsmanship, ethical conduct, and fair
  2. To eliminate all possibilities which tend to destroy the best values of the
  3. To stress the values derived from playing the game
  4. To show cordial courtesy to visiting teams and
  5. To establish a congenial relationship between visitor and
  6. To respect the integrity and judgment of the sports
  7. To achieve a thorough understanding and acceptance of the rules of the game and the standards of
  8. To encourage leadership, use of initiative, and good judgment by players on the
  9. To recognize that the purpose of athletics is to promote physical, mental, moral, social, and emotional well-being of the individual
  10. To remember that an athletic contest is only a game – not a matter of life or death for player, coach, school, fan, or


It is the duty of all concerned with middle/high school athletics:

  1. Learn and understand the rules of your Play hard, play to win, but play fairly within the rules.
  2. Maintain self-control. Do not allow your emotions to distract you from the fundamentals of good
  3. Respect your
  4. Show courtesy to visiting teams and
  5. Acknowledge good
  6. Respect the integrity and judgment of Never question the decision of an official.
  7. Be an example for your school, teammates, and
  8. A player who is disqualified from a contest for unsportsmanlike behavior by an official is prohibited from playing in the next regularly scheduled
  9. A player who strikes or otherwise physically assaults an official will be subject to an extended suspension from athletic A physical confrontation with an official is any incident in which a player strikes, bumps, or otherwise physically or verbally intimidates an official prior to, during, or after an athletic contest.


According to NYSPHSAA Regulations, in order for a student to be eligible for interscholastic competition they must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a registered student in school,
  • Enrolled in a minimum of four subjects including physical education.

Duration of Competition (High School level). Students are eligible to compete for:

  • Four consecutive years upon entry into 9th grade.
  • Four years in one sport unless advanced by selective classification. Students reaching the age of 19 prior to July 1 may not participate during the school year.

 Eligibility for Membership

Students are expected to commit themselves to team membership, attendance at school, and at practices/contests/events for the duration of the season or year.

When this commitment is not fulfilled, the student’s membership and position shall be reviewed by the coach or advisor with the student and a recommendation of action will be made by the coach to the Athletic Director or Principal for review. Conditions for membership are as follows:

  • Students are expected to attend all practices and contests/events unless excused by the coach or It is the student’s responsibility to notify the coach or advisor in advance, of any circumstances which would prohibit attendance at practice(s) or contest(s) or event(s) other than absence from school. Failure to comply may result in disciplinary action ranging from a verbal warning to dismissal from the team dependent upon the nature and/or frequency of the offense.
  • A student who is absent from school will not be eligible for participation in any athletic event or practice session on the day he or she is The administration may permit participation when, in his/her judgment, the absence is unavoidable and supporting documentation signed by a parent or guardian is provided. Students are therefore advised to make requests for absence(s) in advance.
  • Students are expected to be in school on time on a daily All student athletes and club members will be subject to the BKW policy on tardiness.
  • The coach or advisor will establish rules for attendance and All members will be made aware of the rules and the coach or advisor will review these rules with all members. All members are expected to comply with and abide by the rules established for their group.

Eligibility for Participation

  • A student’s absence(s) due to mandatory participation in family activities will not jeopardize the student’s team membership However, it is important to note that upon his or her return the position previously held by the student may be held by another member. It is the returning student’s responsibility to regain his or her position through individual effort.
  • The use, sale and/or possession of any controlled substance(s) alcohol, tobacco products, illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia other that those prescribed by a physician is strictly
  • As a member, students should be mindful that they represent their school, family and Members are expected to have an obligation to conduct themselves as good citizens both in and out of school and the community. Students are expected to refrain from exhibiting any behavior(s) which violates the principles of good citizenship. In other words, never do anything which might bring embarrassment or an unfavorable view to yourself, your teammates, coaches, advisors, family, school or community.
  • A student who participates in activities resulting in his/her arrest or formal charges being filed in a court of law may face additional penalties under this If the school district has adequate and competent evidence that the student participated in the offense for which he or she is charged, a penalty may be imposed pursuant to this Code prior to completion of the criminal proceeding. If the school district does not have such evidence and the student is convicted of a crime (misdemeanor or felony), the penalty pursuant to this code will be imposed upon conviction. In the latter case, the athlete may continue to participate in his/her sport until resolution of the matter by the judicial system.
  • Students may be suspended from extracurricular activities for a period not exceeding seven (7) days by the coach or advisor for violations of Students who feel unjustly suspended may ask for a review of the case by a committee consisting of the coach, advisor, the principal, and the Athletic Director if sport related. Nothing herein shall be deemed to limit a coach or advisor in determining the extent of participation in any game or practice. Permanent suspensions may not take place until a meeting has been held between the student involved, the parent/guardian, the coach, the Secondary School Principal, and the Athletic Director. The Secondary School Principal or his/her designee will make the final decision regarding permanent suspension. Permanent suspension shall occur only after a finding of persistent violation of governing rules. Any appeal of a permanent suspension is to be made first to the Superintendent of Schools.

Academic Eligibility

  1. Any student, who is failing two or more subjects, or equivalent, will be placed on academic probation and will be suspended from participation for one calendar week.
  2. A list will be compiled by the Guidance Department, grade 7-12, of every student who is failing two or more subjects, at the end of each 5 week interim period and at report card A student will have two weeks to make up an incomplete. Should the incomplete not be made up in the allotted 2 week period, it will be treated as a failure.
  3. The Guidance Department will prepare the list of students with failing subjects the Friday after the end of the evaluation Suspensions will go into effect the following Monday.
  4. Suspended students will be notified by their coach or advisor on the Friday before the suspension is in Should a student improve in the failing subjects – to the point where he/she is passing – but is still failing one subject(s), he/she will be eligible for participation after the initial week suspension. However, if the student is still failing two or more subjects, the suspension will continue for one more week.
  5. Conditions of the Suspension:
  • Student will be suspended from participation in interscholastic contests, scrimmages, events and activities.  During the suspension, the student will have to sit on the team bench in street clothes on game day. In addition, suspensions will prevent participation in end of the season banquets and awards ceremonies.
  • Coaches or advisors may permit the student to practice with the team provided they make arrangements for after school assistance with the teachers whose subjects they are Each day they will be allowed to practice provided that they bring a signed form from the teacher indicating they have been in for after school help for a minimum of forty (40) minutes and present that to the coach who will then give it to the Athletic Director and Principal.
  • This procedure will follow again the next If the student is suspended for five weeks, he/she will be terminated from that sport for the remainder of that sport season or activity.

 Application of the Code

The Code of Conduct will apply to each student for the entire school year (July 1 to June 30) (including summer) and will be in effect at all times, in all locations, including non-school activities. Violation of the Code will result in penalties, which are consistent with those identified within the code as determined by the administration. Each coach or advisor also has the prerogative to establish and implement additional guidelines/penalties specific to his/her particular team. All violations of the Code will be cumulative beginning with a student’s initial participation on a junior varsity, varsity team or group activity.

 Due Process

Students accused of violation of this policy will have the right to a meeting within three (3) days of the allegation between the student, their parents/guardians, the secondary school principal, the Athletic Director, coach, advisor and any other pertinent persons immediately following the allegation that a violation of the policy has taken place. The final determination will be made by the high school principal or his/her designee after such meeting. Appeals to the determination are to be made to the Superintendent of Schools.

Multiple Sports

A student may participate in no more than two sports during a season. Students will only be allowed to participate in two sports when an agreement has been drawn up and agreed to by the coaches, athletic director, student athlete, parent/guardian, and administration.

 Withdrawal/Changing Sports

A student who wishes to resign from one team and become a candidate for another team must follow the procedure listed below:

This decision must be made prior to the first interscholastic contest in the sport to be withdrawn from. The student involved must personally communicate his/her intention to the coach, and

is not allowed to stop attending practice until this has been done. Failing to follow this procedure results in suspension from further sports during that season.

After informing the original coach, the student must request a review of the case through a form obtained from the Athletic Director indicating reasons for withdrawing and a request to try out for another team.

The case will be reviewed by the coaches involved, the student, and the Athletic Director within two days of the request.

Students allowed to switch sports must first return all equipment issued to the original coach before he/she may begin practice with the new team.

A student wishing to reconsider and rejoin the team must notify the head coach within 48 hours or forfeit the chance.


A student shall be in attendance within the first 40 minutes of the beginning of the school day in order to practice or participate in an athletic contest. Students who have a written legal excuse are exempt from this policy but must be in school by 11:30AM. (Examples: doctors/physicians visits, sickness/death in the family, educational visits, religious observance, no class first period or any others listed in the student handbook.) Habitual absences and/or tardiness will affect eligibility   as determined by the coach, advisor, athletic director or Principal. Communication with your coach/ advisor and the attendance office is imperative. Attendance on the day before, the day of, and the day after an event or contest is considered to be especially important.


All members will ride on transportation approved and provided by the school district. If a parent/guardian needs to bring their student home from an away contest, parent or guardian must sign out their student with the coach. The parent/guardian must sign the transportation release form provided by the coach or advisor. Permission for a student to leave with any other individual will not be given unless the parent/guardian has provided the coach or advisor with written permission ahead of time. In extenuating circumstances, parents/guardians may request a special situation exception. The athletic director or Principal must approve this extenuating circumstance


All equipment must be returned at the end of the activity to the coach or advisor. This includes uniforms, medical braces, and/or other equipment, which was given to you. A student will not be given a uniform or other equipment for another until all equipment is returned. The student will be financially responsible for any unreturned equipment.


The team coach or activity advisor is the best source of information. The student should address concerns directly with him/her. If, after speaking with the coach or advisor, you are not satisfied, the parent/guardian should speak to him or her. The next step would be for the parent/guardian and/or student to communicate with the athletic director or principal.

Appropriate concerns to discuss with coaches/ advisors:

  1. The treatment of your child mentally and physically
  2. Ways the parent can help the child to improve
  3. Concerns about your child’s behavior
  4. Scheduling conflicts
  5. Special needs or your student
  6. Medical History

Issues not appropriate to discuss with coaches:

  1. Team strategy
  2. Parts or positions
  3. Play calling
  4. Personal Information
  5. Coaches/ advisors experience
  6. Playing time
  7. Other student athletes

It is very difficult to accept your child’s not participating as much as you may hope. Coaches and advisors are professionals and they make judgment decisions based on what they believe to be the best for all the students involved. As you have seen from the list above, certain things can and should be discussed with your child’s coach or advisor. Other issues, such as those listed, must be left to their discretion. Please do not attempt to confront a coach or advisor before or after a practice, contest or event. These can be emotional times for both parties.  Meetings of this nature usually do not promote resolution and set both parties up for failure.

 Family Vacations

Students who miss practices or competition for any reason may have their position or playing time adjusted. Coaches or advisors shall make every effort to inform parents/guardians and students of the season’s schedule as far in advance as possible

Physical Examinations

All students in grades 7-12 who desire to participate in interscholastic athletics must receive an approved physical examination and a medical history update. The physical examination must be approved by the school physician. No student    will be allowed to tryout, practice, or participate with any team without a required physical examination. There are no exceptions. Physical examinations will be provided by the school district at various times during the school year and athletes should see the school nurse to set up an appointment. As a parent/guardian, you may have your son/daughter examined by your family physician, if you so desire. The district medical form must be completed and returned directly to the school health office. Failure to provide proof of a physical examination and proper health forms will prevent an athlete from participating at any level. Physical examinations are valid for one calendar year. All injured athletes who have been seen by a physician must be released (signed statement of release) by the examining physician in order to resume participation with their team. This release must be filed with the school nurse prior to resuming practice or competition. In cases of a long term or severe injury, clearance by the school physician may also be necessary prior to the return of the athlete. Note: Parental consent forms as well as medical history update forms must be completed and returned to the school prior to the first practice. Also, if a student misses 7 or more calendar days of participation, he/she will be required to participate in ½ of the required number of practice necessary for their original participation in that sport.

Outside Participation

The NYSPHSAA allows outside participation (AAU, travel, club, etc.). Berne-Knox-Westerlo athletes must understand that commitment to the school team comes first, and outside participation should not be detrimental to an individual or to a Berne-Knox-Westerlo team. There will be many circumstances where a student should not participate in an outside activity due to the possible effect on the team. Always check with your coach and/or athletic director.


If a student-athlete is planning to enroll in college as a freshman and wants to participate in intercollegiate athletics at the Division I or Division II level, the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse must certify him/her. Applications may be obtained in the high school guidance office. For more information, contact the athletic director or call the NCAA Hotline at 1-800-638-3731 or visit their website at


The athletic director will provide adequate notice and opportunity for potential athletes to sign up for the next sports season. Sign-ups for Berne-Knox-Westerlo school sports will be posted in the high school gymnasium. (See your physical education teacher. Parents and coaches should encourage prospective participants to sign up and complete necessary paperwork and athletic physicals on time so that they will be ready for the first practice session. Section II and the Western Athletic Conference representatives determine sports seasons and follow the guidelines below:

  • Fall Season – mid August to late November (sign up in the spring of previous school year)
  • Winter Season – early November to late March (sign up in early October of current school year)
  • Spring Season – early March to mid-June (sign up in mid-January of current school year)

Post Season

In the past and hopefully into the future, our teams here at Berne-Knox-Westerlo have had their seasons extended into the postseason. Postseason being sectionals, state qualifiers, and state competition. We ask that parents and students take this into account when planning vacations and trips. Postseason extends beyond the regular season. These contest and games can go weeks and perhaps a month beyond the end of the regular season.  We ask the athlete and their families to plan accordingly.

We hope the information provided will help make you and your child’s experience with the Berne-Knox-Westerlo Athletic Program more enjoyable, as well as rewarding.