Thursday, November 15, 2018

USOC begins process of revoking USA Gymnastics' status as national governing body


A major overhaul is needed at USA Gymnastics because nothing else has worked. USA TODAY Sports’ Nancy Armour explains how they got here.

The United States Olympic Committee has taken first steps to strip USA Gymnastics of its recognition as the national governing body for the sport.

In a letter to gymnasts Monday, USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland acknowledged USA Gymnastics has struggled “to change its culture, to rebuild its leadership and to effectively serve its membership.”

In explaining why the USOC is acting now, Hirshland wrote, “The short answer is that we believe the challenges facing the organization are simply more than it is capable of overcoming in its current form. We have worked closely with the new USAG board over recent months to support them, but despite diligent effort, the NGB continues to struggle. And that’s not fair to gymnasts around the country. Even weeks ago, I hoped there was a different way forward. But we now believe that is no longer possible.”

The news comes three weeks after Mary Bono stepped down as USA Gymnastics’ interim CEO under pressure. 

Bono abruptly resigned from the interim post following tweets by Simone Biles and other gymnasts questioning whether Bono was fit to lead and what message her hiring sent to the women abused by Larry Nassar.

USA Gymnastics released a statement Monday noting its board was seated in June and “inherited an organization in crisis.” The board has taken steps to change the leadership and is conducting a search for a CEO “who can rebuild the organization and, most importantly, regain the trust of the gymnastics community,” the statement read.

The USOC’s action Monday triggers a process that includes a hearing before a three-person panel. The USOC will select the panel, which will be chaired by a USOC board member and include a representative from the NGB council and athlete advisory council. USA Gymnastics will have the opportunity to “present factual evidence and legal argument regarding the allegations of the complaint” at the hearing, according to the USOC bylaws.

Afterward, the hearing panel will issue a report to the USOC board with a recommendation on what action should be taken. Hirshland can also submit a report to the board. After considering the reports and recommendations it receives, the USOC board will issue a final decision.

The USOC’s bylaws do not outline any sort of timeline for the process.

The USOC has used its ultimate authority over a national governing body only three times, revoking recognition of a NGB or cutting off its funding.