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RESPECT Campaign - A Guide for Campus Implementation

Download the RESPECT Campaign brochure (pdf)



Sportsmanship is a core principle of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), yet typically, it is only a focus when a crisis occurs. The point of this effort is to address sportsmanship head-on and to proactively give it the sustained attention it deserves.


The NCAA Committee on Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct has embarked on an initiative to increase awareness and commitment to sportsmanship across the Association. In spring 2008, the NCAA conducted surveys that helped shape the initiative's strategy. Through this initiative, the committee's goal is to advance sportsmanship commitment, provide a communication and educational plan that campus leaders will implement, and create a common language around the issue. In fall 2009, the Committee produced a second edition of the RESPECT campaign brochure emphasizing institutional activation of the RESPECT campaign. In fall 2010, in an effort to increase awareness of and commitment to sportsmanship, the Committee produced and sent RESPECT banners and luggage tags, to all membership institutions to supplement existing messaging related to sportsmanship.



The Respect campaign begins with institutional oversight and commitment. For the campaign to have an impact on your student-athletes, coaches and fans, your institution's president should launch the campaign. It is recommended that the president appoint and empower an advisory group or committee at the beginning of each academic year to address specific issues on campus and make recommendations on how to implement the campaign.

The advisory group or committee should consist of a broad-based group with representation from:

  • Senior athletics department members.
  • Student-athletes.
  • Men's and women's sport team coaches.
  • Campus drug and alcohol education counselors.
  • Student affairs.
  • Life skills coordinator.
  • Booster organizations.
  • Faculty athletics representatives.
  • Members of student government.
  • Sportsmanship coordinators (a sample description is provided below).

Note: The sportsmanship coordinator is intended to be a designation, similar to that of senior woman administrator (SWA) or faculty athletics representative (FAR). It is not necessary to have someone committed to this initiative full-time (although that certainly is not discouraged!).

Institution's Sportsmanship Coordinator (Administrator or Coach)

  • Development and monitoring of an institutional policy on sportsmanship consistent with NCAA and conference guidelines and best practices, including potential incentives and consequences for poor sportsmanship behavior. Minimally, this would involve ensuring proper seating of fans, fan management procedures, identification of a game administrator to the visiting team, public address announcements, venue signage, etc.
  • Create and conduct effective communication plan of the policy to pertinent institutional staff (i.e., game administrators, coaches, student-athletes, spirit groups, parent groups, booster organizations, public safety, etc.).
  • Chair at least one annual meeting with relevant staff to discuss operationally how sportsmanship will be fostered and how breaches of sportsmanship will be handled.
  • Chair or liaison to institutional committee charged with the oversight of sportsmanship status and initiatives on campus.
  • Serve as point person for submitting sportsmanship award applications to conference office for NCAA Sportsmanship Award consideration.
  • Represent institution to conference sportsmanship representative.

Institution's Sportsmanship Coordinator (Student-Athlete)

  • Serve as an executive board member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).
  • Chair a committee within SAAC in charge of enforcing institution's sportsmanship policy during events.
  • Promote/organize activities at sporting events that encourage good sportsmanship.
  • Work with institution's sportsmanship coordinator (administrator) to organize an event, (e.g., speaker, video, etc.) that teaches student-athletes the importance of good sportsmanship.



Advisory group/committee responsibilities

The advisory group/committee must define what success means for your campus and develop a plan that works best within that environment.


Create a mission statement that includes institutional oversight and commitment to creating and sustaining a culture of sportsmanship.

Define your areas of concern where negative fan behavior exists.

  • How would your competitors describe your fans and the overall competitive environment on your campus?
    • Is this the reputation you want your institution to have?
    • How do you want your conference competitors to describe your fans and overall campus competitive environment?
  • Do particular sporting events at your institution have more negative behavior problems than others?
  • Do certain sections of the stadium/arena have negative behavior problems?
  • Does the time of day the game/match takes place make a difference in fan behavior?
  • Does the proximity of fans to court/field affect fan behavior?
  • What sports have a positive fan and competitive environment?
  • What actions/characteristics present in those sports can be applied in problem areas?

Define success within these areas of concern.

  • Describe the ideal competitive environment (e.g., contagious enthusiasm focused on positive cheering).
  • Adopt specific expectations related to the behavior of fans at campus athletics events.
    • Minimize/eliminate fans' taunting of and interaction with the visiting team.
    • Increase security in sections with fan behavior problems.
    • Limit access in areas close to the court/field (e.g., blocking off first three to five rows of bleachers or moving sections away from the court/field).
    • Improve game-management plan and communication with visiting team to ensure proper environment (e.g., game-day administrator identifies where he or she can be found during event if visiting team has a problem with fan behavior).
    • Respond to negative incidents in a swift and effective manner.
  • Intercede and eject fans displaying unsportsmanlike behavior.
  • Videotape student-athletes, coaches and fans attending contest/matches to record any negative incidents. The recording should cover from the time the first team takes the field/ice/court until the time the last team leaves.
  • Establish penalties for general student body as well as any fan exhibiting negative sportsmanship at an athletics contest. Make fans accountable for what takes place in the stands.

Define who should educate and determine the best means to reach the audiences of greatest concern. (See resources and suggested best practices below.)

  • How is the culture of the campus community communicated to internal and external constituents? And by whom? Are campus leaders engaged in this initiative?
  • Do fans know what is expected of them? Are fans considered part of the solution?
  • What actions need to take place to instill a culture of respect?
    • Campus awareness and buy-in of advisory group's charge.
    • Clear game-management strategies understood by all stakeholders.
    • Student-athletes and coaches viewed as leaders in communicating expectations.

Commit to reinforcing the importance of a respectful competition environment frequently and consistently.

  • Advisory group should assess campus culture periodically.
  • What initiatives/actions are working well?
  • What additional actions need to be taken?
  • What messages are resonating with the intended audience?
  • What messages need revised?

Resources and implementation

Downloadable Materials


Assess the current resources available and in use by your institution and conference.

  • On campus: What is the most effective means to reach your target audience? Signage, correspondence, Web-based, video, etc?
  • Conference office: How can you partner with the conference office to extend the message to a broader audience more consistently?

The following list of resources is not an exhaustive list. Your institution is likely using most of these as well as some not listed.

Research Summary

  • Use the research findings to back up your initiatives with athletics department and institutional leadership. While you may not be in a "crisis" situation, do not underestimate the impact of fan behavior on the overall perception of your athletics programs.

Print Ads

  • Place the ads in your game programs.
  • Place the ads in any athletics department materials directed toward your fans/ attendees.
  • Incorporate the same text and wording into your existing materials if a sportsmanship initiative is already underway.
  • Insert the institutional logo to co-brand the ads.

In-Venue Signage and Messaging

  • Hang banners in campus facilities. Use the RESPECT print ads to co-brand your institution's logo.
  • Place signage activation in your athletics venues where you know your fans will see the messages (e.g., restrooms, turnstiles).


  • Use campus technology and social Web sites to promote message (e.g., closed circuit campus TVs, stadium/arena JumboTrons, campus e-mail list serves, Facebook and MySpace groups, Twitter, etc.).
  • Establish a sportsmanship page on your school and athletics department Web sites.

Public Address Announcer Scripts

  • Provide to your public address announcers to read to the fans before player introductions, during timeouts, intermissions, halftimes or postgame.
  • Sample script:

    Fans, please treat today's players, coaches and officials with respect. After all, Siena has many traditions, but bad sportsmanship isn't one of them. Respect, it's the name of the game.

  • Work with your campus student-athlete advisory committee to read the scripts live to the crowd or videotape the student-athletes and play the video on the JumboTrons.

Ticket Backs and Mailing

  • Define what is expected from your fans as part of the language that goes with ticket drive letters or ticket mailings.
  • Insert language onto ticket backs.

Communication to Alumni Groups and Boosters

  • Contact your alumni relations department to help reach alumni and boosters in order to educate on the importance of the school's image and how it can be affected by their behavior in the stands (e.g., e-mail list serve, mail brochures, distribute flyers, presentations at alumni and booster functions, etc.).
  • Ask alumni and boosters to help implement the RESPECT campaign when they attend sporting events (e.g., have them serve as role models/leaders when attending competition and report negative fan behavior).

Communication to Students

  • Use your institution's student affairs department and student government to educate students on the importance of the school's image and how it can be impacted by their behavior in the stands (e.g., give presentations to incoming students at orientation, e-mail educational material at the start of each semester, include standards of behavior and consequences in the student handbook, etc.). Include your campus office of judicial affairs and office of residence life as particular groups of interest with this campaign.

Communication to Student-Athletes' Family Members

  • Educate student-athletes' family members on your institution's expectations of sportsmanlike behavior and enlist their help in enforcing good sportsmanship at sporting events (e.g., have coaches send letter to family members with campaign goals and objectives).


  • Identify where the visiting team can find the game-day administrator if the team has a problem with fan behavior.
  • Speak to opponents after competition to survey their experiences and obtain suggestions.

Radio and TV Announcer Preparation

  • Educate announcers about the importance your school places on a respectful competitive environment.
  • Encourage them to note positive and passionate fan behavior and conversely discourage the glorification of negative fan behavior.

Suggested Media Spokesperson and Talking Points

  • Maximize the roles of those who have the most influence on your fans (president, coaches, student-athletes, directors of athletics).
    • Educate them on the message they need to send and reinforce frequently and consistently.
    • Ask them to publicly speak to the importance of having a respectful competitive environment. Ask them to define their expectations and to ask that fans work with them to uphold these principles.

Training materials for Venue Staffs

  • Review existing training manuals and/or orientation sessions for your venue staff.
  • Define what fan behavior is acceptable and what is not.
  • Define the expectations of your venue staffs in addressing potential negative fan behavior (e.g., fan ejection, warning system, etc.).



Advisory Group/Committee Responsibilities

After the advisory group has established and implemented a plan for addressing fan behavior, the focus needs to turn to administrators, coaches and student-athletes.

  • Are the role models (i.e., coaches and student-athletes) "walking the walk?"

The advisory group/committee must determine what success looks like on your campus or within your conference and develop a plan that works best within that environment. Consider what actions coaches, and student-athletes can take as leaders on their teams to instill a culture of respect.

Engage coaches and student-athletes to become part of the solution. In addition to coaches and student-athletes serving as members of the advisory group, encourage coaches and student-athletes to consider the suggested best practices below for possible implementation.

Define your areas of concern where negative coach or student-athlete behavior exists.

  • Do particular sporting events, coaches or student-athletes have more negative behavior problems than others?
  • Define what success looks like within these areas of concern and what results you would like to see:
    • Is taunting of officials by coaches and/or student-athletes acceptable? If not, how can it be changed? If some level of tauting is acceptable, what crosses the line?
    • Develop an accountability system that penalizes coaches and student-athletes who swear at officials, fans or opposing team.

Define who you want to educate and determine the best means to reach the audiences of greatest concern.

Commit to reinforcing the importance of a respectful competition environment frequently and consistently.

Resources and implementation


  • Communicate expectations and vision by the University president to coaches, student-athletes and staff.
  • Provide a game coordinator/manager, who serves as host for all games. Consider community volunteers if staff resources cannot cover all games.
  • Recognize positive sportsmanship.
    • Ask the SAAC to help design a nomination process where student-athletes can nominate their coach for a sportsmanship award and honor him/her at an end of the year banquet.
    • Write a letter to the director of athletics (copying the conference commissioner) of opposing team outlining the coaches' positive sportsmanship. Also, encourage the athletics staff to recognize coaches who consistently display positive sportsmanship.
    • Develop a program that will acknowledge staff who represent good sportsmanship.
  • Encourage coaches to have the team develop their own rules on how teammates will be held accountable for negative remarks or actions; or coaches with the help of administration should establish team rules and enforce them (e.g., immediate dismissal from the game).
  • Video tape the coaches poor behavior (yelling negative remarks at student-athletes, opposing teams, referees and opposing coaches during practices or games) and replay it back to them at a coaches meeting.
  • Implement accountability program to address unsportsmanlike behavior exhibited by student-athletes and coaches.


  • Make sportsmanship and respect a core value of your team.
  • Develop a culture of sportsmanship on your team that includes a set of expectations for respecting your opponents (e.g., handshakes before and after contest, supporting a no-tolerance policy for taunting, supporting injured players on both teams, etc.).
  • Define consequences and penalties within your team if sportsmanship expectations are violated.
  • Meet with captains, team leaders and coaches to discuss sportsmanship and develop a group committed to leading by example who are comfortable speaking to teammates who display negative sportsmanship.
  • Petition for a university-wide "no-tolerance" policy and consequences for student-athletes criticizing the game officials in the media.
  • Meet with local elementary schools and university booster groups to encourage and promote good sportsmanship.
  • For teams who post signs at sports games other than their own or who attend games or matches they have never been to before, recognize the team during game breaks, in the school newspaper or attend one of their games in support of their actions.
  • Ask fans to nominate a "sports person of the year" and have a member of the community present the award to the player.


  • Communicate expectations with your team before the problem occurs.
  • Establish an acknowledgment system for your student-athletes that will reward the sportsmanship behavior (e.g., awards, recognition at team meeting or practice, recognition in media, etc.).
  • Develop a set of expectations for the coaching staff in regards to their interaction with officials, student-athletes, fans and media (e.g., no tolerance for abusing officials, foul language, taunting, etc.).
  • Define consequences and penalties within the coaching staff if sportsmanship expectations are violated.
  • Teach your team the importance of being gracious in both victory and defeat.
  • Encourage coaches to incorporate good sportsmanship themes in competition.
  • Set a prime example for the players and fans (shaking hands of officials and coaches in front of crowd).
  • Instruct participants and spectators to make sportsmanship No.1 priority.
  • Provide regional and national awards given by some coaches associations to student-athletes at the sport's championship.
  • Review coaches association's expectations and involvement.
  • Provide positive game demeanor.
  • Nominate student-athletes and teams that exhibit outstanding sporting behavior for the annual NCAA Sportsmanship Award.

Conference Offices

  • Encourage member institutions to implement the RESPECT campaign on their campuses.
  • Make sportsmanship best practices a standing agenda item and facilitate the discussion at conference meetings.
  • Coordinate with institutions to establish clear policies and actions to apply when a negative incident (on or off the field) occurs.
  • Establish programming to recognize good sportsmanship (e.g. awards).
  • Arrange a preseason and postseason conference call to all coaches to discuss any positive or negative sportsmanship behavior and ways to further the campaign.
  • Nominate student-athletes and teams that exhibit outstanding sporting behavior for the annual NCAA Sportsmanship Award