SBD/Issue 19/Olympics

U.S. NGB Heads Call For Resignations Of USOC's Probst, Streeter

Probst's Lack Of Experience
In Sports Cited By Gilbert
The chief execs of 46 NGBs yesterday passed a no-confidence vote in the USOC's leadership and called for the immediate resignation of USOC Chair Larry Probst and USOC Acting CEO Stephanie Streeter. If the USOC's board does not respond to the group's call, it will turn to "influential" people in DC to address their concerns, said Skip Gilbert, National Governing Body Association head and CEO of USA Triathlon. The announcement came less than five hours after Streeter said she would step aside as CEO at the end of the first quarter of '10. Gilbert said Streeter's decision to step aside was not enough because the time to step forward and build int'l relationships is now and during the Vancouver Olympics. "That (new CEO) could go to Vancouver ... and start to put the new face of the USOC on the map," Gilbert added. "Why let her continue? Why not make the change today?" Gilbert said Probst should resign because he does not have the sports or int'l experience necessary to lead the USOC. Gilbert: "If you don't have those basic elements behind you, how are you expected to be the leader?" Gilbert stopped short of calling for an overhaul of the USOC and its bylaws, but did call for the creation of a board that is more engaged and a CEO that "understands the constituency base." Gilbert said, "That's going to help take the USOC to the next level" (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).

CHANGE WILL DO YOU GOOD? Gilbert said that the USOC "could ask Congress to intervene" because the organization "operates under congressional mandate as the U.S. national organizing committee for the Olympic movement." He added that the NGBs have been "concerned with the USOC's direction for several months but remained silent during Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympics" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/8). However, USA Team Handball Chair Dieter Esch "offered a dissent" to the call for Probst and Streeter to resign immediately. Esch: "There is too much at stake to just call for resignations" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/8). USOC spokesperson Lindsay Hogan said that the organization's board is "scheduled to meet later this week and would have a response at that time." In DC, Amy Shipley notes NBC Sports & Olympics Chair Dick Ebersol "made the first public call for a leadership change hours after Chicago became the second straight U.S. city to finish fourth in the international race for a Summer Games." Ebersol has said that the USOC's "failure to connect with the international sports community and the perceived arrogance of its leadership doomed Chicago's bid" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/8). SI.com's Brian Cazeneuve wrote Streeter's resignation is "really just step one" for the USOC. For a country that "often wins and always contends for the top of the medal count at each Olympics, the United States has relatively little administrative clout beyond the dollars that television and sponsorship money can generate" (SI.com, 10/7).

Dick Ebersol Believes Streeter
Should Leave USOC Quickly
TIME TO LOOK IN THE MIRROR: In N.Y., Thomas & Macur note yesterday's announcement regarding Streeter's future "followed several days of intense criticism and kicked off what is likely to be a period of reassessment by leaders of the Olympic committee, who have acknowledged that Chicago's last-place finish in the vote Friday was a result in part of the United States' diminished influence in the international sports world." However, some USOC critics believe that "Streeter's decision did not go far enough," adding that she should "exit quickly, before the Vancouver Games in February." Ebersol: "How effective is anybody in any field after they’ve announced their resignation?" Ebersol contends by not naming a new CEO before Vancouver, the U.S. will "lose the opportunity to introduce the new leader to the international community." Ebersol: "I believe this whole thing is just to give Stephanie one moment in the sun, and that’s not what we should be thinking about right now." He believes that the USOC should "forgo an extensive search and look to established sports executives" to fill the role (N.Y. TIMES, 10/8). Ebersol said USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny and USA Swimming CEO Chuck Wielgus have "exactly the skill set everyone knows we need" for the position. Ebersol: "They have enormous grass-roots sports that are wildly successful so they know what the importance of the athlete is and how to deal with it on a major domestic level. They also have sports that are so big they demand real fundraising ability, particularly among big domestic corporations." He added, "The people fit for this job are such a small group." Meanwhile, Probst until yesterday had been "ambivalent about committing to what he found surprisingly large time demands in the chairman's job." Probst: "I'm not a person that backs away from a challenge. And I'm not a person that runs from a fight. I think I can do this organization a lot of good" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/8).

WHERE DID WE GO WRONG? In Chicago, Philip Hersh writes the issue surrounding last Friday's IOC vote "no longer is whether Chicago could have beaten Rio if both had been in the final round," but rather how Chicago "got far fewer votes than anticipated." Some Chicago 2016 officials before the vote believed that the bid had "up to 33 votes in the first round," but Chicago instead pulled in only 18. Chicago 2016 Chair Pat Ryan: "I don't think it was miscounting. I think people changed their mind once they got in the closed session." Former TOROC COO Luciano Barra, who lobbied on behalf of Chicago 2016, said that members who shifted their votes to Tokyo "may have included Arab members from countries belonging to the Asian Olympic group who wanted to show regional solidarity." Barra also suggested that some IOC members "might have rejected Chicago out of petulance over security inconveniences caused by the presence" of President Obama and his wife, Michelle. Taiwan IOC member C.K. Wu said, "The IOC should in the future really study the (voting process)" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/8). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Matthew Futterman notes Chicago's fourth-place finish "may have marked the nadir of the USOC's power." IOC members had "long ago grown resentful of USOC leadership, believing that it didn't respect the IOC's leadership and did little to engage them in talks over revenue issues." Olympic consultant Chris Welton, who formerly worked with the IOC, said, "There was 25 years of animosity that was built up in that vote" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/8).

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