Club Sports Policies

Background and General Information

Williams College students engage in many types of student organized, managed, and funded activities. Among them are various types of physical activities, some of which are classified as club sports. While club sports teams have existed at the College for many years, however, the procedures and rules governing their formation and operation have never been regularized. The current proposal therefore attempts to clarify and define College policies regarding the recognition and funding of club sports teams and their access to College facilities.

Currently, club sports teams are fully autonomous student organizations that are supported financially by a combination of College Council funding and their own resources. Some club sport teams, however, fall under the supervision of the Athletics Department and receive College funding for certain types of expenses. This proposal attempts to determine which teams should be placed in the latter category, how this classification should be determined, and what types and level of College support should be provided to these teams.

Existing practices indicate that certain criteria for classifying club sport teams already exist: the history of a particular club sport at the College, the nature and extent of the practice and competitive schedule pursued by a team, the facilities required by a team, and safety concerns. We therefore propose a system of classification based on the following criteria:

Higher Risk Club Sports

  1. a sporting history
  2. a need for the use of College athletic facilities
  3. a history of daily practices
  4. a history of a regular competitive schedule
  5. a determination that the safety of participants requires the presence of a coach or other responsible person(s) (for example, in the case of water polo, lifeguards) and the need for additional insurance coverage

Lower Risk Club Sports

  1. a sporting history
  2. a need for use of College athletic facilities
  3. a history of regular practices
  4. a history of a regular competitive schedule

Any team that wishes to be designated officially as being in one of these two categories would need to apply for such recognition simultaneously to the Office of Campus Life and to the Director of Club Sports in the Athletics Department. The Director of the Office of Campus Life and the Director of Club Sports would then convene a group composed of the following people to decide whether the team should be recognized officially as a club sport, within which category, and whether there are sufficient resources to support the sport: a representative of the Office of Campus Life, the Director of Club Sports, the Director or Associate Director of the Athletics Department, and a representative of College Council. In making its decision, this group should consult the Director of Sports Medicine and the appropriate staff member in the Office of the Vice President for Operations regarding safety and liability issues. The agreement of the College Council representative and at least two of the three remaining members of the group will be necessary for a club sport to be recognized (this veto is granted to the College Council representative because official recognition of a club sports team will create financial obligations for College Council).

If it is determined that a club sports team that is seeking official recognition will require insurance coverage and the presence of a coach for safety reasons, then as part of its application the team must provide a realistic estimate of the salary for a qualified coach. The salary level for new coaches, both for newly recognized and for existing club sports teams, must be reviewed and approved by the group defined in the previous paragraph.

If a team is designated officially as a club sport, it would receive the following College support:

Access to athletic facilities

Priority access to College athletic facilities will be as follows:

  1. in season varsity teams
  2. in season junior varsity teams
  3. in season club sports
  4. out of season groups (when appropriate)


All club sports are expected to be primarily student supported, by either College Council or participants.

Because the College requires Higher Risk Club Sport teams to hire a coach and to purchase appropriate insurance, College funding will be provided to pay the full cost of insurance and 55% of the approved salary for a coach. In cases where the presence of EMTs are required (currently women’s and men’s rugby practices and home games, equestrian home shows, and home WUFO tournaments), the College also will pay 55% of the cost of providing EMTs. In addition, the College will pay the full cost of providing lifeguards for women’s and men’s water polo. A budget for each Higher Risk Club Sport team will be established under the supervision of the Director of Club Sports and the Athletics Department to ensure that these safety requirements are met. It is hoped that salaries of club sports team coaches normally will be increased 3% per year, although the actual increase in any given year will vary depending on circumstances.

Coach and Club Communication

The Director of Club Sports will serve as the liaison between club sport teams and the Athletics Department. The Director of Club Sports also will be available to assist in the selection, hiring, oversight, mentoring, and evaluation of club sport coaches.

Access to Sports Medicine

Beginning in 2009-2010, members of club sport teams will have access to sports medicine services on a basis to be determined through discussion with the Athletics Department.

The Health Center also will continue to provide its current level of services to club sport athletes. In addition, rugby and water polo players will continue to be required to have physical examinations and health screenings before participating in their respective sports.


Club sports are responsible for arranging their own transportation.


Club sports will not generally be required to follow NESCAC rules regarding dates of competition, the number of contests, length of season, etc.

Club Sport Categories and List of Currently Recognized Groups

Under this proposal, existing club sport teams would fall into the following categories:

Higher Risk Club Sports

  • Men’s and Women’s Rugby
  • Sailing
  • Equestrian
  • Men’s and Women’s Water Polo
  • Gymnastics

(Cheerleading has existed in the past and would be in this category if re-approved.)

Lower Risk Club Sports

  • WUFO
  • Men’s Volleyball
  • Cycling

Club Activities (teams or groups that do not currently have a competitive schedule)

  • Figure Skating
  • Baseball
  • Cricket
  • Fencing
  • Taekwando
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
  • Aikido
  • Badminton