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Volume 21 No. 1
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USA Track & Field brings aboard former Dale Earnhardt Inc. president Siegel as new CEO

USA Track & Field last week named Max Siegel, former president of global operations for Dale Earnhardt Inc., its CEO, ending a 19-month search for a new leader.

The organization had been without a CEO since Doug Logan was fired in September 2010.

Siegel, 47, will earn a base salary of $500,000 with an option for bonuses. By hiring Siegel, the USATF board becomes the second major Olympic organization to name one of its former board members to its top job. The U.S. Olympic Committee board did the same in 2009, when it named board member Stephanie Streeter interim CEO. She faced tremendous pressure from Olympic constituent groups, which raised questions about her qualifications for the job.

Siegel was on the board of USATF from 2009 until late last year, when he stepped down so that his sports marketing agency, Max Siegel Inc., could be hired by USATF to manage the organization’s marketing and sales efforts.

USATF Chairwoman Stephanie Hightower pointed to examples of other organizations elevating board members to CEO as proof that doing so is a common practice.

“The real issue here is that Max was not on the board when he was selected for this position,” Hightower said. “I don’t understand why anyone would be cringing, because he was not a board member when we started this process.”

USATF board member Steve Miller said that Siegel’s knowledge of the organization and his knowledge of sports made him the best candidate for the job. Since USATF hired him in October, Siegel has focused on improving the group’s relationships with existing sponsors, strengthening its marketing materials and evaluating its assets. His agency hasn’t sold any major sponsorships, but has signed an affinity deal with Nationwide and done some work with USOC-sponsor Citi.

Siegel was named following the USATF’s second search for a CEO. It failed to agree to terms with a CEO in its first search, which concluded last spring and included as finalists New York Road Runners CEO Mary Wittenberg and University of Oregon track coach Vin Lananna. At the time, the organization struggled to find someone who was willing to move to Indianapolis to take the job. That was not an issue for Siegel, who is an Indianapolis resident.