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Volume 21 No. 1
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USOC extends deal with Blackmun through Rio

The U.S. Olympic Committee board of directors finalized a four-year contract extension with Scott Blackmun that will see him continue to lead the organization through the 2016 Rio Games.


SBJ Podcast:
Tripp Mickle talks about the challenges Scott Blackmun faced, the job he has done and how his salary stacks up to the rest of the sports industry.

The four-year deal, which raises his base salary 10 percent to $550,000, ensures the mild-mannered lawyer who restored credibility to an organization reeling after Chicago’s failed bid to host the 2016 Olympics will be at the helm as it pushes ahead with a bid for the 2024 Summer Games.

“This extension is an indication of the excellent job Scott has done the last four years,” USOC Chairman Larry Probst said in an email. “Scott has worked diligently to build the reputation of the USOC both domestically and abroad, and we are excited that this extension will keep him as our leader for another four years.”

The contract is Blackmun’s second with the USOC. The deal offers an increase in base compensation but a decrease in performance compensation. Bonuses in his previous deal brought his total compensation to $765,369 last year, according to USOC tax filings, but the new deal doesn’t include a long-term incentive bonus of $425,000 that rewarded him for staying in the job the last four years.

The USOC was in turmoil when Blackmun joined it in early 2010. He was the USOC’s third CEO in less than a year, and he stepped into the job at a time when Olympic partners criticized the organization for becoming insular and ineffective. He responded by promoting a service-minded culture at the USOC that was more inclusive of outside constituent groups like the national governing bodies and former Olympians. He led that effort by emailing NGB executives the summaries of board meetings and sharing the USOC’s financials at the Olympic Assembly — things that had never been done in the past.

“Scott rebuilt the trust and confidence of everyone within the Olympic family that the USOC is a stable partner for all of us, whether you’re an NGB or a corporate partner,” said Steve Penny, USA Gymnastics president and CEO.

Blackmun and Probst also worked to repair the organization’s standing internationally. They traveled to events such as gatherings of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees, Pan-American Sports Organization meetings and Sport Accord meetings. They were rewarded by being named to the International Olympic Committee’s marketing and international relations commissions.

Perhaps Blackmun’s biggest international achievement came last spring when the USOC reached a new revenue-sharing agreement with the IOC. The USOC had faced escalating criticism because of an agreement that gave it 20 percent of IOC sponsorship revenue and 12 percent of Olympic media rights fees paid by U.S. broadcaster NBC. The situation even had been blamed for Chicago’s failed bid to host the 2016 Olympics. Blackmun helped craft a deal that will see the USOC retain $410 million in revenue but contribute a greater share to the cost of future Olympic Games.

For his successes in 2012, SportsBusiness Journal/Daily named Blackmun Executive of the Year. Under his leadership, the USOC increased its total number of sponsors from 13 to 22, adding blue-chip brands such as BP, Citi and Kellogg’s. U.S. Olympic teams also won the medal count at the 2010 Vancouver Games and 2012 London Games.

Blackmun, 56, now is focused on increasing the USOC’s revenue through fundraising and bringing the Summer Games back to the U.S. in 2024. The organization launched a new foundation earlier this year to assist with fundraising, and it is in the process of determining how it will select a potential bid city for the 2024 Games.

“Scott came to the USOC at a time of turmoil and he, along with the senior team he has built around him, have provided not only much needed stability to the USOC but have helped further enhance the Olympic Movement in the U.S.,” Probst said. “I look forward to the USOC’s continued success, and to partnering with Scott for the next four years.”