Section D:
Establising a Local Program

Steps for Creating a Local Team

Special Olympics Texas divides the state into 19 areas for your convenience and accessibility. Look at the Special Olympics Texas Map to find out in which area you live, then contact your program/area director (area phone numbers and addresses are listed www.sotx.org/areas). The area office will have information on hand that will help you become familiar with Special Olympics.

New local programs, that wish to be officially sanctioned by SOTX, must apply for official delegation status. The Request for New Delegation Form must be turned into the area office. The area office and Area Sports Management Team reserve their right to deny a request if the responsible leadership is not in good standing with SOTX.

Attend the next coaches certification school for the sport you are interested in coaching. Check with the area office to see when the upcoming training opportunities are available. The first step will be to attend General Orientation, approximately one and a half hours in length. This session will provide you with an overview of the Special Olympics history and philosophy. General Orientation may be taken online. Following the General Orientation, you will need to attend the sports-specific session, which is about four to five hours. Contact the training director for your area listed in Section V for assistance. The website also has the latest coaching information - visit www.specialolympicstexas.org.

Contact your area Special Olympics Texas office for rule books or other items you may need. Rules can also be found at www.specialolympics.org.

During this time, you should be identifying potential athletes, if you don’t already have them, as well as facilities to train them. Or, find a group that needs a coach or additional transportation and equipment (balls, cones, batons, shot puts, etc.). Be sure that your athletes meet the criteria for Special Olympics Texas, as outlined in Section B. Your area director can help you make contact.

Each athlete must have a physical exam, and you must submit the results of this exam on the Athlete Enrollment/Medical Release Form to the area office before the athlete's first training session. It is wise to keep at least one copy of the original in your files. A copy must be kept with you at all times during Special Olympics activities. The athlete’s parent or guardian must sign the form unless he/she is at least 18 years old and are their own legal guardian.

Train your athletes. SOTX rules require a minimum of eight weeks of training prior to competition.

Most sports offered at the area level are also available at the chapter level. Participation in local competitions is required prior to area competitions. Additionally, you may wish to compete in invitational events or events in an adjacent area.

Each event has a deadline for entry. You must submit the proper entry forms by the deadline designated by the area office.

There may be coaches meetings, area conferences or other meetings you must attend to keep up with current information. There will be a mandatory coaches meeting the night before an event or early in the morning before the event begins.

Athletes must compete at the area level before they are eligible to compete at the chapter level. Athletes must be at least 12 years old on the first day of chapter level competition to be able to compete at the chapter level (8 years old for area/local competitions). Also, there may be quotas or special criteria to be able to compete at the chapter level.

Submit local, invitational and area entry forms to the appropriate meet director or area office. For the six chapter level events offered annually, all entries must be sent through the area office, which will then forward them to the chapter office.

There must be one certified coach for each delegation in individual sports and one certified coach per team for team sports. There should be at least one other certified coach present to fill in for the head coach if he/she becomes unable to complete his/her duties.

The official ratio for Special Olympics Texas is 4 athletes to 1 adult, and for the purpose of supervision, all minor Unified Sports® partners (17 years old or younger) are included in the athlete count. For an event with no overnight stay, the 4 to 1 ratio is required, but the gender specific ratio is not; it is advised that delegations have at least one chaperone of both genders to handle certain situations. For an event with an overnight stay, the 4 to 1 ratio of four athletes/minors to one adult is required by gender, meaning every four male athletes/minors need one male chaperone and every four female athletes/minors need one female chaperone. However, we urge all delegations to strive to maintain the 4 to 1 by gender ratio at all times.

Develop a budget for each sport, and for the year.

Special Olympics provides the framework for which athletes with intellectual disabilities can train and compete. The organization will either recommend or require certain policies or processes to be followed. However, this is not to say that Special Olympics delegations may not also have their own policies and processes that should be in place as long as they are not opposed to Special Olympics policies. For example, Special Olympics requires a 4 to 1 chaperone to athlete ratio which is gender specific for housing during chapter games. A delegation may have a lower ratio if they choose. The safety and well-being of our athletes should be first and foremost when making decisions.

Delegations are not allowed to form boards of directors or to have bylaws. Delegations may form steering committees, which can function to assist with decision-making within the delegation.

Fundraising/Banking Policy

Special Olympics Texas, Inc. (SOTX) is the sole entity in the State of Texas which is authorized to use the name, logo, trademark, or any other representation of Special Olympics. SOTX may authorize a team/delegation to use the name and/or logo, when a request is submitted following the guidelines in Section U. No other entity is allowed to make reference to Special Olympics, including use in public relations/media outreach, in any fund raising activities, or in any of its organizational documents on record with the State of Texas.

No team/delegation may have the same name as another corporate entity that supports or raises funds for a team/delegation. No team/delegation may incorporate.

No entity other than SOTX may negotiate (cash) any check or any other financial instrument which is made payable to SOTX or to the team/delegation/booster club. A team/delegation/booster club must deposit all checks payable to SOTX or to the team/delegation/booster club into SOTX's Bank of America centralized bank account.

A team/delegation/booster club may conduct fund raising activities in the name of the team using the name, logo and/or trademarks of Special Olympics only after receiving advance approval from the SOTX Chapter Headquarters. All checks made payable to SOTX or to the team must be deposited into the SOTX Bank of America centralized bank account, which is maintained for the exclusive benefit of the team. Contribution checks should be made payable to Special Olympics Texas, Inc. - FBO *team name*.

Any HoD, coach or Class A volunteer who serves in a position of responsibility or authority with another organization which, in the reasonable judgment of SOTX, constitutes a conflict of interest with SOTX, will be required to sign a prescribed waiver annually as part of re-certification.

No team/delegation/booster club may maintain any outside bank account to hold contributed funds. All such funds must be centralized with SOTX or centralized with an entity (i.e., school, group home).

Any violations of this policy by heads of delegation, coaches, Class A volunteers or teams will be subject to disciplinary actions including, but not limited to, probation, suspension, or disbanding. Violations of this policy by other entities may be referred for legal action, if voluntary compliance is not achieved.

Procedures Relating to Team Funds Held by SOTX

Each head of delegation will be required annually to sign a statement acknowledging the fund raising/banking policy. This requirement will occur as part of the re-certification process.

Dissolution: When a team decides to cease activity and no longer compete, SOTX will proportionately disburse the remaining team funds to the new team the athlete (s) join if we are notified of the new location of the athletes within 12 months. The money will “follow the athlete”. If we are not notified in writing within 12 months of the dissolution of the team which new team the athletes have joined, the remaining team funds will be transferred to the Operating Account and will no longer be available to the team. Teams that are disbanding should communicate clearly with their Area Director regarding the future participation of the athletes on their team.

Inactivity: When a team does not compete in an Area or State competition for a period of 12 months, they will be placed in “inactive” status. All inactive team funds will be frozen until SOTX receives confirmation from the Area Director that the team has competed in an Area competition. At the end of each calendar year a list of teams will be sent to each Area Director for them to mark as “active” or “inactive.” Team funds will be held for 12 months after the team has been listed as ‘inactive’. All team funds will be transferred to the Operating Account and no longer be available to the team after this time.

Team funds may not be spent for any service that is considered wages and as such, requires reporting to the Internal Revenue Service as wages. Generally, acceptable expenditures include tangible products and certain services which directly benefit the athletes or the team as an entity. Examples of these expenditures include, but are not limited to, hotel accommodations for events, uniforms, etc.

Within the SOTX centralized bank account, each team may request its own deposit slips which are coded to identify which team has made a deposit to the account. Each team shall maintain copies of checks which it has deposited.

When expenses need to be paid, either in advance or on a reimbursement basis, the team will submit appropriate documentation to the chapter finance department by fax or email. All expense reimbursements must be received within 3 months of the expense being incurred. Any expenses submitted after 3 months may not be paid. Upon receipt of the documentation, a check will be issued within 2-3 business days and the team's cash balance will be debited. If the team does not have a sufficient balance to cover the check request, a check will not be issued.

Form W-9 is required by the Internal Revenue Service for each new vendor. We must have the vendor's current W-9 on file before we can process payment. All W-9's must be updated annually. Please attach a W-9 to each check request from a vendor not currently in our system.

Quarterly statements of the team accounts will be issued by email to the heads of delegation for review and reconciliation. More frequent statements are available upon request. Alert the Finance Department of a change in email address by sending an email to acct_genledgr.chp@sotx.org.

Teams must consult the Protected Corporate and Organizational Contacts list in the SIG; please note the most current list is maintained by the Development Director – Grants and will be consulted during the pre-approval process. Teams may not apply for funding from protected foundations identified by the Development Director – Grants as SOTX funders/prospects.

Grant funds received by teams that were not reviewed and approved by the Development Director – Grants prior to submission are subject to refusal by Special Olympics Texas, Inc. All grants are subject to final review by Special Olympics Texas, Inc.’s President/CEO and/or Board of Directors.

The maximum request allowed for a team is $4,500 per funder, per year. This amount is based on IRS criteria related to reporting on the 990 of Special Olympics Texas, Inc.