USA Swimming Restructures Senior Staff; Unger To Take Over National Team
USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey has announced a major restructuring of the NGB's senior staff, ceding day-to-day control over the national team and centralizing power in a smaller group of direct reports. Hinchey, who said the changes are influenced partly by his experience as President of the MLS Rapids, will have only five employees directly beneath him instead of nine. The most notable change is longtime COO Mike Unger will now be given authority over all swimming functions -- like a stick-and-ball sports GM -- leaving Hinchey to take a more hands-on role in commercial affairs. Along with Unger, the other members of Hinchey’s newly named “strategy group” includes CMO Matt Farrell; CFO Jim Harvey; and General Counsel and VP/Business Affairs Lucinda McRoberts, who is being promoted from her prior title of Secretary & General Counsel. USA Swimming Foundation Exec Dir Debbie Hesse will remain as a direct report but not join the strategy group. Four other departments will report up through members of that strategy group instead of directly to Hinchey: the national team, risk management, safe sport (anti-abuse protection and education), and club development. The reorganization is Hinchey’s first major action since being hired away from the Rapids in June to replace longtime Exec Dir Chuck Wielgus, who died in April. He is the first top USA Swimming exec to hold the CEO title instead of Exec Dir. While Hinchey is shrinking the upper management level, he intends to add positions to a broader “executive leadership team” of 12-15 people that would handle operational matters. He said the smaller cabinet-level team is meant to fit his personal management style and streamline strategic thinking, while the larger operational committee is meant to improve succession planning by giving more employees a chance to develop leadership skills. Succession planning is a weak spot he has identified in his early months on the job, he said. “I’m 49 years old,” Hinchey said. “By LA ’28, I’ll be 60. I can’t even imagine being 60 right now. But if I don’t plan for that, then I’m making a massive mistake.”
LATEST CHANGES TO NGB: These changes come three months after USA Swimming's BOD agreed to dramatically overhaul itself, shrinking from 35 to 15 members and shifting from an “operations-focused” mission to a “governance-focused” one. The nonprofit used to have 30 operating committees that all reported directly to the board; by next September, 26 of those 30 committees will be led by employed staff. “We need to be prepared to take on a lot more work,” Hinchey said. Put together, the staff and governance changes will remake the nation’s most successful summer sport NGB to operate much more like a corporation than a volunteer-driven nonprofit, a step recommended by most sports governance experts. Along with the reorganization, Hinchey is creating at least two new positions as well: VP/Corporate Communications Isabelle McLemore is joining in a newly created Senior Dir of Communications role in the commercial division. Also, USA Swimming is now recruiting for a new Senior Dir of Sales & Marketing. Both jobs will report to Farrell. On the high performance side, the NGB already announced that Lindsay Mintenko would be named as Managing Dir of the National Team, and will report to Unger. Hinchey announced the changes to his staff this morning.