Senator Calls for More USOC Departures
DENVER (AP) _ Lloyd Ward became the seventh top U.S. Olympic Committee official to quit in the past two months when he resigned as chief executive.
If Colorado Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell has his way, Ward won’t be the last to leave in the troubled organization’s latest leadership shakeup.
Campbell, part of a Senate committee investigating the USOC, said Sunday that only way to get back on track is with more house cleaning.
``There is still some people, and they’re the people basically that Lloyd Ward brought in there, that I think ought to go out with him,″ Campbell said. ``I don’t know how we get this thing back on the right track unless we start with a clean slate in that management group.″
Ward resigned after months of turmoil that began with conflict-of-interest charges against him. Since then, six other top officials quit, including president Marty Mankamyer and ethics compliance officer Pat Rodgers.
That isn’t enough for Campbell. He has called on chief operating officer Fred Wohlschlaeger and human resources manager Rick Mack to step down, saying the two didn’t stop Ward’s questionable behavior. Both were hired by Ward.
``To me, they’ve been a party to the indiscretion,″ Campbell said. ``They were either a party to it or they should have stepped up and said ’We shouldn’t be doing this.‴
While Campbell is calling for more trimming at the top, USOC officials are looking to move quickly to find a replacement for Ward.
With the Athens Games less than 1 1/2 years away and a Senate committee calling for a major restructuring, USOC officials want to put the past three months of inquiries and resignations behind.
``We need to move quickly to fill the CEO position, but we must find the right person,″ USOC vice president Frank Marshall said. ``At this point, who would want this job?″
Interim USOC president Bill Martin will work with the USOC’s executive committee to find an interim CEO, perhaps as soon as this week. Martin himself only came aboard last month, when president Marty Mankamyer quit under pressure.
Jim Scherr, the USOC’s chief of sport performance, will handle the day-to-day operations until an interim CEO is named, Martin said. Scherr will continue serving in his current position and his title and compensation will remain the same.
The early list of candidates for the interim CEO role includes former USOC president Bill Hybl, Salt Lake City Organizing Committee executive Fraser Bullock, USOC vice president Paul George, and former USOC executive director Harvey Schiller.
Donald Fehr, head of baseball’s union, 1984 Los Angeles Games organizing chief Peter Ueberroth, and New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner also have been mentioned as potential USOC saviors.
Fehr said Monday that no one had spoken to him about the CEO job.
``I have never been interested in the staff position at the USOC. I am not now interested,″ he said.
Campbell called Hybl his choice for CEO.
``This is going to have to be a person that can command trust from the employees that are down there, from the executive board, from the athletes themselves, and more importantly than that, from the U.S. Congress. I think Bill has all that,″ Campbell said. ``I think he would see the bigger picture.″
Hybl’s name pops up every time a president steps down, but he has repeatedly said that he is not interested. USOC president from 1991-92 and 1996-00, he’s now CEO of the Olympic Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports U.S. athletes with grants.
The International Olympic Committee would like to see a quick end to the turmoil. The IOC leadership, in Denmark for an antidoping conference, has been monitoring the USOC situation closely.
``It’s starting to look a little bit like the Keystone Kops,″ senior Canadian IOC member Dick Pound said Sunday.
The crisis has raised questions about the USOC’s privileged revenue-sharing status with the IOC and cast a cloud over New York City’s bid for the 2012 Summer Games.
``It’s not good for the Olympic movement in the United States, and if it’s not good for the Olympic movement in the United States, it’s a big concern for all of us,″ IOC vice president Kevan Gosper said.