Ski Area Management Magazine “Outs” National Ski Patrol Acrimony

Ski Area Management (SAM) magazine has published the first article in a two part series, “Rescue Me: The National Ski Patrol has been through years of turmoil. Can it be saved?”, which proposes to explore the acrimonious multi-year battle between various factions of the US National Ski Patrol System, Inc.’s (NSP) membership. The battle has resulted in NSP vs. NSP civil litigation on two occasions over the past 8 years. SAM

At first glance the SAM series appears to be an attempt to explore solutions to problems that have been plaguing the organization since 2005. The two warring factions are largely comprised of a majority of NSP’s senior leadership on the one hand that propose that a small group of vocal and well organized members are wasting the time of senior leaders on issues that are of little strategic importance to the organization or the majority of its members.

On the other side there is a loosely-coordinated group that fashions itself as “members’ rights” advocates attempting to force NSP senior leaders to re-focus on the strategic interests of the organization. They say the NSP has strayed in recent years toward a primary focus on the financial interests of resorts and other for-profit entities, and they would like to put the strategic focus back on skier and rider safety and care, and conservative actions to protect members’ rights in support of that strategy and protecting the NSP’s non-profit status.

There is certainly truth to many of the points noted in the article, and to other aspects of the acrimonious debate not discussed in the article. It would appear that NSP’s senior leaders have spent more time over the last several years dealing with questions regarding alleged leadership improprieties, and on re-writing the NSP’s Bylaws and Policies and Procedures to make it more difficult for members that may have concerns to have them heard by NSP leaders and to give NSP leaders broad latitude to sanction members that submit complaints that senior leaders claim are without merit.

Some of the key matters that the folks branding themselves as member rights advocates have been attempting to have addressed include:

  • The NSP claim that it is not required to file 990s. A majority of board members recently decided that the NSP is an arm of the government, and therefore, is not required to file financial statements for public consumption.
  • The NSP’s refusal to provide members with copies of audited financials for the last three fiscal years. The NSP’s most recent financial filing with the State of Colorado, in summary form only, was supposedly filed by former Executive Director Tim White, when he wasn’t even employed by the NSP at the conclusion of NSP’s Fiscal 2014, for the year-ended June 30th.
  • Several NSP officials have been forced to resign in recent years for alleged offenses that range from lying about education credentials (Burt Mitchell and Larry Bost) to creating a hostile work environment at the corporate headquarters (Tim White). But rather than terminate the perpetrators of these offenses, NSP leaders have changed governing documents to allow some of the officials that members’ rights group members claim have committed misconduct to continue to serve in various leadership capacities and to continue as members of the NSP.
  • Allegations of irrational interpretations of the NSP’s Bylaws, Policies and Procedures and Colorado Law; and claims of re-writes to the NSP’s governing documents to facilitate irrational interpretations that a majority of board members might decide to adopt;
  • Blocking the ability of members to notify other members of improprieties they may believe are transpiring by allegedly inhibiting access to the member list and using leadership communication channels to spread disinformation to members;
  • Retaliation against whistle-blowers by alleged falsification and dubious interpretation of member vote outcomes, education program test results and investigation outcomes;
  • Refusal to properly hear bylaw-mandated rights to appeal and to maintain the status quo during appeals; and
  • Making skiing optional for members of the National Ski Patrol by allowing members that have never skied and have no intention of ever learning to do so to now be called “Patroller”, and who are now officially granted full rights to vote and serve on the NSP National Board.
  • An article published by in February 2013, Happy 75th Birthday NSP: Mission Accomplished?, highlighted many of the issues noted in the SAM article, and the level of acrimony seems to have only elevated.

    The author of the SAM series is Skip King. Mr. King is a former non-volunteer patroller that, according to his bio at company Web site Reputation Strategies, now manages a small public relations consultancy that advises executives and companies on crisis management, brand promotion and restoration of reputations post-crisis.

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    Captain Harvey Coffin Mackay House, 19 Pleasant Street, Suite 3F, Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930, U.S.A.


    One thought on “Ski Area Management Magazine “Outs” National Ski Patrol Acrimony”

    1. Ski Area Management decided to pull-down the comments section of their “Rescue Me” article, which added a lot of important critical detail to the piece. Thanks to Google Cache, the full version of the “original article” can be found here.

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