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Volume 25 No. 87
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USOC Considers Major Changes To NGB System

The U.S. Olympic Committee board of directors is considering far-reaching changes to how it oversees individual sports in the U.S. Olympic movement in the wake of the USA Gymnastics sex abuse case, chairman Larry Probst said Friday in Pyeongchang.

“We are going to very carefully examine the USOC’s relationship with the NGBs,” Probst said. “Because as you know, they are right now independent institutions that have their own board of directors, their own management teams, [and] their own revenue-generating machines. But clearly some things have occurred that would indicate we need to have a different relationship than we’ve had in the past.”

Probst predicted the topic would be a major discussion point at the USOC board’s April board meeting.

“That’s something we will be very closely examining and talking about this at the board level, and we’ve actually created a subcommittee to start work on that immediately,” he said.

Probst did not rule out a restructuring that would make the USOC a single, consolidated entity with direct oversight over all Olympic sports — a radical departure from the operating framework that dates to the 1978 Amateur Sports Act.

As it stands today, the USOC certifies other nonprofits, such as USA Gymnastics and USA Swimming, as the exclusive organizer of the Olympic teams in their given sport. But that model leaves the USOC with few options to directly influence national governing body behavior short of defunding or decertifying.

Any change to the system that removes autonomy from the sport level likely would be fiercely opposed by some NGBs. It also would have far-reaching ramifications for the business of Olympic sport; the largest NGBs have eight-figure sponsorship and media portfolios and are seen as desirable employers for sports executives.

It’s not clear whether the most serious option would require new legislation. However, the law reads in part that the USOC’s purpose is to “to exercise exclusive jurisdiction, directly or through constituent members or committees, over” all aspects of the U.S. Olympic team.