SBD/Issue 195/Olympics

USOC Management Shake-Up Comes At Delicate Time For Group

This is a "crucial time for the United States Olympic movement," yet the 10-member USOC BOD "has chosen this delicate period to overhaul the top management" of the organization, according to Katie Thomas of the N.Y. TIMES. The abrupt changes "have angered and confounded many leaders in Olympic sports, who are especially upset that the board named one of its members," Stephanie Streeter, as acting CEO. USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny said of the move, "It was like a giant earthquake." The USOC's "top two positions ... are now held by people with little Olympic experience," as Streeter had only served on the BOD since '04 and Chair Larry Probst was named to his post last October. Streeter: "The learning curve has been intense and dramatic. ... You have to be a quick study." USOC BOD member Bob Bowlsby said Streeter "came in and managed some difficult circumstances very admirably." Bowlsby also "dispelled rumors that the board had given Streeter a pay raise." He "declined to specify her compensation but said her salary was less than" the $428,000 former CEO Jim Scherr earned in '08. Meanwhile, Thomas noted while several of Streeter's initiatives "have been applauded in Olympic circles," she has "drawn criticism from the leaders of the national governing bodies that oversee Olympic sports, who argue that she and the board have not been responsive." The governing bodies are "upset that quarterly meetings are closed to the public, and that the minutes are not posted online." National Governing Bodies Association Chair Skip Gilbert: "I think in the past, the USOC had always viewed the national governing bodies in a parent-child relationship. We were beholden to them. We did what they told us, and we never asked questions. Well, the kids have grown up." USA Diving President & CEO Debbie Hesse: "We have to be listened to." Streeter "acknowledges a rocky transition." Streeter: "Change is always difficult, and it was difficult in this situation." But Streeter "disputed the argument that the governing bodies should have greater access to the board, saying she is a liaison." Streeter added that she "would ask the board to release its minutes if leaders of the governing bodies requested." Gilbert said that a "silver lining" of the transition under Streeter is that the "upheaval has unified the national governing bodies, which are exploring ways to harness their resources to attract sponsors" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/28).

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