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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Who for USATF CEO?

There's been plenty written about why Doug Logan got dumped as USATF CEO.  SI's Brian Cazanueve identified a lot of shortcomings, but they sound like the kind of thing that results in non-renewal rather then outright firing.  I still say that the powerful people either assuage or inflame these types of grumblings about the person at the top.  In short, Hightower wanted him gone so he was.

In an interview with the Long and Strong Throwers Journal, former top-level javelinist and current top-level businessman Bill Schmidt said the following:
In most sports governing bodies, they are administered by former athletes with little or no business acumen. In the case of track & field, everyone has their own agenda and do what benefits their own interests.
Is this because of the specific people who run USATF, or is this always going to happen regardless of who is in charge? I think you can make a case that the latter will be the case unless strong actions are taken against it.

People who are very good at track have been great athletes their whole lives, and (for Americans) in most cases track was probably not the first sport they did.  Our school-based system is unlike the rest of the world, where youth track is club-based.  Nearly all track people in the USA are like David Oliver, to pick an extreme example: they knew they could be successful at a team sport, and instead chose to be in an individual one.  I think track people simply are not "team players", given to thinking more about themselves than others, and it is probably much more true in the USA than elsewhere since our early-youth programs in football and baseball are so much stronger than they are in track.

So who could do it?  Right now it appears it would require a glutton for punishment.  Phil Hersh warns us that Stephanie Hightower herself might take the job, and that would be a very bad thing.  I could see a situation where, if she became the new CEO, there would be a horrible short-term implosion which would eventuially lead to the ouster of a lot of destructive people at USATF.  The next five years might be very bead, and the next ten very good.  But I'd really like to skip over the bad five years and get ten good ones right away.

Curtis Anderson at the Eugene Register-Guard suggested Vin Lananna, who is too smart to take the job.  Former USATF head (1970-1997) Ollan Cassell said it doesn't really matter, which is true in some ways but overall I disagree strongly.  Probably the best single candidate out there is the above-mentioned Bill Schmidt, but I think he's been on record saying "no f-ing way".

1 comment:

pjm said...

As happened in '08, NYRR CEO Mary Wittenberg's name has been raised, but although I think USATF would be lucky to get her, she has absolutely no motivation to trade NYRR for USATF - she likes New York, she's doing what she loves and getting things done. Why trade that for Indianapolis and the headaches of USATF?

That said, I think looking in the ranks of the major marathons isn't a bad idea. Wittenberg's predecessor Allen Steinfeld is probably unwilling, but Carey Pinkowski and Guy Morse both have strong lieutenants (Mike Nishi and Dave McGillivray, respectively) who actually make the race happen - and both Pinkowski and Morse have executive experience running volunteer-centric organizations with diverse missions and skills.

Whether they'd want the job - whether anybody would want that job at this point - is another story entirely.