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USA Volleyball has upheld the suspension of Texas Fierce Elite volleyball director Ryan Richardson. This was confirmed by Lone Star regional director Will Vick last week.

“My job is always for the concern and safety of our young athletes, and that’s what we’re doing,” Vick said. “If I make an error in judgement, I’m going to make it on the side of the athlete to keep them safe.”

The extended suspension, which started Feb. 16, according to USA Volleyball, began March 27, 2024, and will continue through Aug. 31, 2024.

“I am extremely surprised by the suspension and disappointed that I have not been given any information regarding what I allegedly did wrong. The safety and security of the athletes that train with Texas Fierce Elite Volleyball is always my primary focus and concern,” Richardson said in an email. “I would never do anything to risk the physical or mental wellbeing of these strong young ladies. So, when Lone Star Region Commissioner Will Vick notified me about the suspension on February 16, 2024, I was shocked, because I had never received any complaints from any one of my players or their parents regarding anything that could have been construed as violating any of the SafeSport Rules or the USA Volleyball Code of Conduct, and Mr. Vick did not provide any information other than to generally reference these regulations.”

Vick said last week that the regional office, which reports to USA Volleyball, was flooded with communications regarding Richardson and the situation, but also had several calls of support for Richardson and his program. He added, however, that USA Volleyball’s job is to make sure that programs are run appropriately and are monitored to stop anything happening before it does.

“Again, our goal again is to keep all the kids safe, that’s it.” Vick said.

The Safe Sport Act requires “sports organizations to establish reasonable procedures to limit one-on-one interactions between an adult and an amateur athletes who is a minor without being in an observable and interruptible distance from another adult.”

“My immediate reaction was to make a request to Mr. Vick for any evidence he had to justify the suspension, and I specifically requested that he provide me with any statement, complaint, message, text, photo, or screenshot of any activity or communication that he believed violated the rules,” Richardson said in his email. “To this very day, I have received nothing. The procedural and disciplinary rules of USA Volleyball require that any member who is disciplined receive notification of the specific evidence to support the decision, the specific rule that was violated, and an opportunity to appeal the decision to USA Volleyball. Despite numerous attempts on my behalf to get information regarding the allegation against me, to this very day, Mr. Vick has ignored my requests. He has failed to notify me of what I did wrong, he has failed to notify me of what rule I violated, and he has denied me the opportunity to appeal his decision, in violation of the procedural rules of the Lone Star Region and USA Volleyball.

“Mr. Vick passed judgment on me without telling me what I was accused of doing or giving me an opportunity to respond. I have filed a grievance with USA Volleyball for his failure to provide me with basic information during the process, as is required by the Rules, and for his violation of the Lone Star Region Rules and USA Volleyball procedures with regard to disciplinary action.”

Richardson’s name appears on the USA Volleyball website with a pair of violations: “Violation of USAV Code of Conduct, Violation of U.S. Center for SafeSport Conduct.” Richardson’s name, however, did not appear on the SafeSport database as of Monday afternoon.

“I am an enthusiastic proponent of the Minor Athlete Abuse Prevention Policy (MAAPP) of SafeSport and in the USA Volleyball Code of Conduct, because they are important safeguards to protect our sport and the athletes that make it so great. I have always made a concerted effort in my club to educate my coaches, athletes, and their parents with regard to these rules, and do our best to follow them always,” Richardson said. “When Mr. Vick notified me of my suspension, he mentioned that I ‘appeared’ to be in violation of the ‘Media Rule’ for the MAAPP of SafeSport. I checked, however, and there is no ‘Media Rule’ for SafeSport.

“While this has not affected my club’s success in winning tournaments, as we just won the Big South Qualifer (sic) this weekend in Atlanta Georgia in both 15u and 16u, it has affected my ability to work with my athletes, who are my main concern.”

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