Now, you can get all the USA Cricket updates via Facebook. Also follow us on Twitter via @dreamcricket
By Venu Palaparthi
[Views expressed in this article are the author's and not those of any organizations that he represents.]
I deeply care about and fully understand the importance of compliance
having been responsible for the compliance function for a good part of
my career. Perhaps more germane, I have written expressing my views
on membership issues several times for this website - a column on
proportionate voting appeared on September 19, 2009 and the second article about league qualifications was published on March 19, 2011.
Over the years, we have been gifted many reasons to be skeptical
about the way things are done in United States cricket. But as a
community, we have either tolerated or chosen to be complacent so far.
The latest decision by the board, giving themselves another three months
for the compliance review before holding an election, has left me
In this column, I will start off with my recommendations and then
explain why I have lost confidence in the board's stated intention to
hold an election in three months.
1) USACA should hold the elections without
delay. All paid-up full member leagues should be asked to sign a
statement under penalty of perjury, attesting to the
following basic minimum qualfications contained in the
USACA constitution (a) their league has at least eight (8) clubs or
teams, each club or team comprising at least fifteen (15) players who
play according to a published schedule, and (b) the cricket is played in
accordance with the Laws of Cricket established by MCC and Playing
Conditions established by ICC, by definition that means outdoors and
with a hard ball.
Consequences of perjury should be severe -
suspension for two or three years from USACA membership for the signer
and the league.
The leagues that sign such a statement
should be allowed to vote, provided they meet two additional
requirements contained in the constitution. Firstly, the league was
already approved by USACA as a full member, which means it should have
undergone a period of one year as a provisional league. Secondly, the
league meets the constitutional requirement for financial eligibility
and good standing, which means it does not owe USACA any membership
It is important to note that if a league
was delinquent on their 2011 payment and is willing to pay a reasonable
USACA imposed penalty, then it should be allowed to pay up and also
vote. This is allowed under the constitution.
2) The compliance process must continue
unhindered to its logical conclusion and a culture of compliance must be
supported by any new regime. The expectation should be that each league
follows USACA's policies, directives and decisions. Upon review of the
results of the survey, if a league is found to need compliance
assistance, then such assistance must be provided. If punitive steps are
needed, such steps should be taken.
3) Present constitutional safeguards
including the complaint process and the recall process provide the
electorate with protections against abuse of the right to vote.
Why has the election process lost its footing?
The mirage - Every time USACA announces a date or a
timeline, you should expect that it will get postponed. That is par
for the course. But this election has had more than its usual share of
plot twists. Here is a chronology, in case you forgot.
"Stay of all elections until this process is completed" - On
July 28, 2011, USACA President Gladstone Dainty wrote that the USACA
compliance review would be turned over to a capable third party "within
the next few days" with the expectation that all USACA leagues and
officials will cooperate to the fullest. This followed the stalling of
the results of the Atlantic Region Cricket Board election. At the time
of Dainty's intervention, the USACA website had already published an
election date of October 15 for the national election. In any event,
over a month went by before we heard anything more on this topic.
Elections to be held during the first week of November - On
September 13, 2011, in a meeting at the invitation of the New York
Cricket Region, President Dainty reportedly said that that the elections
were more likely to be held during the first week of November and a discussion apparently ensued about the likelihood of that occurring.
"Assist your league in analyzing..." - On
September 15, 2011, in a letter to the league presidents, the attorney
conducting the compliance review wrote that the prinicpal objective of
the review "is to improve the overall operations and administration and
to help strengthen and safeguard the operational and fiscal integrity of
USACA. Therefore, the goal of the Compliance Review is to assist your
league in analyzing how well it organizes, communicates, documents and
evaluates its efforts at complying with the USACA Constitution
and requirements." He further noted that, "The Final Compliance Report
will indentify any additional recommendations and/or corrective actions
that should be taken by the Board."
A 'thoughtful' exercise - On September 18, 2011, USACA issued a press release
announcing that it had retained the services of an independent attorney
to conduct a compliance audit of the leagues. USACA did not mention
even once that it would impact the elections. The words 'vote,'
'elections' or 'eligibility' were avoided. It was portrayed as a
'thoughtful and collaborative' exercise. "The league can focus on areas
to improve, and for the parent organization, data is readily available
for all its statutory and governance filings," one member was quoted as
saying. The release said that the audit's targeted completion was two to
Elections MUST be held by December 21 according to the schedule - On October 22, 2011, USACA noted in a media release
that it had appointed an attorney "to conduct a Compliance Review of
all USACA Leagues prior to the commencement of the regional and then the
national organizations board." Even if a person completed that
sentence to make sense of it, the intention was to conduct a review
prior to the commencement of an election. That is very different from
insisting that every league is fully compliant before conducting an
election. In fact, USACA promised that it would hold elections before
December 2011, even invoking the magic words "ICC compliance" in its
release: "It is important for ICC compliance that the elections for
regional boards and a new USACA board are completed, in the correct
sequence before the end of December 2011." It further noted that "All
regions must hold elections following the compliance review to the
schedule below." According to the release, the regional elections were
to be completed by November 19.
Weather delay - On November 10, 2011, apparently in response
to requests from the leagues in the North East area affected by 'recent
weather conditions,' the regional elections were postponed to November
22 from the original date of November 19, 2011.
"Systemic failure" - In an undated memo
posted on the USACA website on November 16, 2011, the attorney wrote
that it was important to give each league the opportunity to provide
missing information and that the failure to provide all the
information "makes it impossible to complete the compliance review
process in advance of the upcoming regional elections." He requested
that the regional elections be rescheduled. No new dates were suggested.
There was still no indication that the regional elections would be
delayed beyond November 30, 2011.
Three months and 66% - In a
meeting of the USACA board held by conference call on December 3, 2011,
to review the status of the compliance audit, as feared by many in the
USA cricket community, the board awarded itself a three-month
In a summary note
posted to the USACA website, USACA noted that the board voted by a
large majority to adopt the following recommendation of the attorney:
"Provide help and assistance to the leagues wanting to comply with the
USACA Constitution and run the elections when a majority of leagues,
ideally at least 66%, are compliant. This could be done in around three
months or less."
Scope creep - USACA's embrace of compliance is a
welcome change. President Dainty noted in the USACA press release
dated September 19, 2011, that "USACA started the process of compliance a
couple of years ago to ensure that all our member leagues and regions
were complying with USACA’s Constitution, ICC membership rules and both
US Federal and State laws." We all appreciate the President's call for
a culture of compliance. But if we have already spent a couple of years
on this topic, then I don't think three months are going to guarantee
My point is - Full compliance is a goal, but elections have a date.
USACA, until its most recent pronouncement, used the election as a tool
to encourage leagues to submit information, while continuing to suggest
that the election will be held by year-end. Now, it is explicitly making
full compliance a pre-condition for an election.
Holier than thou - While insisting that leagues
comply with "the USACA Constitution" and USACA directives and policies,
USACA is itself not complying with the constitution. As a
reminder, Article XXI of the constitution says "Elections shall be held
no later than November 30 of each electoral year consistent with the
electoral cycle, except that in the year 2007, elections shall be held
thirty (30) days after the ratification of this constitution."
Financial controls, youth and women's programs figure prominently
among the requirements that the independent attorney has laid out for
the leagues. Is USACA able to demonstrate competent financial controls
and sound fiscal management? Does it have a formal youth development
program? A women's program? In fact, as recently as September 25, 2011,
USACA Treasurer John Thickett admitted that the national body 'was not setting the best example for the regions to follow when it comes to sound fiscal management.'
The other 34% - It is even more surprising that the
USACA board signed off on running an election when "a majority of the
leagues, ideally at least 66% are compliant. This could be done in
around three months or less." Why is compliance by only a majority of
leagues acceptable? Why is 66% ideal? I would like to read this for what
it is - not now, maybe later.
Where is this stuff in the constitution? - While I
wholeheartedly support youth cricket and women's cricket, I find it
intriguing that USACA is now asking leagues to meet 'requirements' that
the constitution makes no mention of in the context of leagues in order
for them to become eligible to vote.
As an example, one of the nine requirements that the attorney has
listed which "the league must meet in order to be certified as eligible
to vote" is that "the league has implemented, or is willing to start to
implement, a formal women's development program."
Having read the constitution many times, I am yet to find a single
article or section in the USACA constitution that calls for a league to
meet such a requirement in order to be eligible to vote. The subject of
women's cricket is a regional and national subject and not yet a league
requirement as envisioned in the constitution. For your benefit, I have
attached at the bottom of this article (see Note below), all the
sections that discuss women's cricket.
In summary, I feel that USACA has failed to honor its fundamental
obligation to hold an election by November 30, 2011. It must conduct an
election immediately while continuing to promote a culture of
Article II (Objectives of USACA): To foster the development of the sport at all levels including youth and women's cricket.
Article XIII Section 1 (Regional Administration): Each Regional
Administration shall consist of the respective league presidents or a
designated representative from each league and four (4) other
individuals elected by a majority vote of the members of the Regional
Administration, of which at least one (1) shall be deemed the Youth
Development Coordinators, and one (1) shall be the Women’s Cricket
Coordinator. The others shall be deemed to be Members-at-Large.
Article XIII Section 15 (Regional Administration): To be in
compliance and maintain appropriate member status, each Region shall
implement Youth and Women’s programs no later than the summer of 2015.
Article XIV Section 1.v (Rights and Obligations of the Regions):
Create programs to foster and develop cricket within each region
including youth and women’s cricket. Such programs shall include but is
not limited to, school programs, after-school programs and youth club
Article XIV Section 1.vi (Rights and Obligations of the Regions):
Select coordinators who shall be directly in charge of the development
of cricket within that region and who shall work closely with state and
local governments to promote the growth of youth and women’s cricket.
Article XIV Section 1.vii (Rights and Obligations of the
Regions): Submit quarterly reports and recommendations to the USACA
regarding the development of Youth and Women’s cricket and programs
which require the assistance, authority and funding from USACA.
Article XIV Section 1.viii (Rights and Obligations of the Regions):
Work closely with the CEO and/or his staff to advance and develop
Youth and Women cricket on a national level.
Article XIV Section 3 (Rights and Obligations of the Regions):
Failure of any region to implement, promote, develop and maintain an
active youth and women cricket program shall result in the loss of
funding from USACA and the right to participate in USACA sponsored
events or any other sanctions as outlined in this Constitution.