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At this year’s Fall Summit, the PDGA Board of Directors approved a sweeping update to the Disciplinary Process. This proposal was workshopped by the Board, staff, and Disciplinary Committee members, and the Board then made further changes in response to member feedback provided at the summit. The primary goal of these changes is to increase transparency and accountability through improved communication with our members.  

The new document makes potential penalties more predictable and clarifies methods by which members may file actions. It refines the process by which filed actions are evaluated and better defines member rights at each stage of that process. It is clear and explicit about how the Disciplinary Committee assigns penalties, which increases accountability to the members. It uses some legal language (for example, using the more neutral “respondent member” instead of the more prejudicial “accused member” or “defendant”), but it is written to be readily understandable by everyone.

These changes will go into effect on January 1, 2020.

What’s Different? The New Disciplinary Process, Explained

The single biggest change is the introduction of a public classification system for different offenses and the definition of standard penalty ranges for those offenses. While someone subject to discipline will not have their specific conduct made public, the general class of their offense will be. The classes, broadly defined, are:

  • Class A: Physical assault or imminent threat of physical harm.
  • Class B: Willful or purposeful cheating or circumvention of the rules.
  • Class C: Harassment, pattern of inaccurate score reporting.
  • Class D: Drug and alcohol violations.
  • Class E: Administrative violations (most commonly, failure to pay required fees).

Please refer to the document for more detail about the different classes and standard penalties.

In addition, the document abandons the old Case 1, 2, 3, or 4 system for the following methods of submitting potential cases for evaluation:

  • Tournament Director submissions, including those submitted through the TD Report/Tournament Manager.
  • Single Event submissions, where one or more members report misconduct they’ve all witnessed at one event.
  • Pattern or Practice submissions, where a group of five or more members has witnessed one or more relevant incidents at one or more PDGA events.
  • PDGA Board and Staff submissions, which cover all Class E matters and rare incidents where the integrity of the game or player safety are threatened and no other submission category applies.

Finally, the document sets out the process by which actions are evaluated. Here is the short version (see the document for more detail):

  1. The member (or members) submits the action to the Disciplinary Committee using the online form at
  2. The Committee determines whether the matter already has been addressed adequately by the rules. If it has, they will decline to evaluate further. The filing member(s) may appeal such a determination.
  3. If the Committee determines that the matter should go forward, they will notify the respondent member and begin investigation, which consists primarily of taking statements from witnesses and the respondent member. The respondent member may decline to answer without any assumption of guilt.
  4. The Committee will come to a determination by a vote of at least 50% of the Committee members and forward their recommendation to the Board Liaison, who will either approve the recommendation or request reconsideration on certain grounds.
  5. The Board Liaison will notify the respondent member of the final decision. The respondent member may then appeal to the PDGA Board of Directors for reconsideration within thirty (30) days.

Example: The New Process in Action

Perry Pencilwhipper consistently is suspected of altering scores at tournaments, but when he is confronted, he denies any intent to cheat or denies the behavior outright. TDs in the area are frustrated because they don’t think they have enough evidence to prove a “willful circumvention of the rules.” The behavior harms the integrity of the game, but cannot be remedied through the Rules or Competition Manual. This is exactly the type of situation where the Disciplinary Committee should examine the evidence.

Perry carries on with this behavior at several more tournaments, and, eventually, Alan, Betty, Charlie, Dana, and Evan are talking about the problem. Evan points out that the five of them can report the behavior they’ve seen under the Pattern or Practice submission standard, and that she believes Perry could be penalized for one or more Class C offenses here. The five players submit the issue for evaluation by the Disciplinary Committee, and Perry ends up suspended for six months. TDs grow more comfortable calling Perry’s behavior a “willful circumvention,” and now Perry has two choices: get disqualified, possibly repeatedly, or learn to play with integrity.

Transparency, Accountability, and Communication

This revision to the PDGA Disciplinary Process increases transparency by dividing offenses into discrete classes with standard penalty ranges so that members can understand the consequences of various actions. It clearly outlines procedures for filing actions and when and who can appeal decisions. These changes, in turn, increase the membership’s ability to evaluate the performance of the Disciplinary Committee. This improved process arises from the PDGA’s mission to refine our organizational practices and procedures in order to effectively communicate all the information our members need to hold the PDGA accountable to our goals.