Team Integrity Press Release re; USOPC Board giving Blackmun $2.4M Severance

(Washington, D.C.)

The Committee to Restore Integrity to the USOC is outraged that the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee Board would award any severance to disgraced former CEO, Scott Blackmun, let alone $2.4 million. Scott Blackmun is under FBI investigation, he covered up for a serial child molester, he has been removed from the International Council of Arbitration for Sport, and has been called out for leadership failures by two major reports. More than 150 Olympians and Paralympians are now calling for USOPC Board and staff resignations for breach of their fiduciary duty. They are joined by much of the athlete-survivor and abuse-expert community.

In December 2018, the Congressional House subcommittee report and the USOC-funded Ropes & Gray investigation called for profound cultural changes to the USOPC; a reorganization that puts athletes’ interests and their well-being first, rather than corporate or employee interests. Blackmun’s $2.4 million severance is more of the same; the Athletes were consulted or even told of the Blackmun severance. The amount represents more money than the USOPC gave to 47 NGBs.

The media surrounding the Ropes & Gray report focused on Scott Blackmun’s bold lies to the investigators; he asserted that he gathered USOPC resources to help the victims and USA Gymnastics. In fact, he did not lift a finger to help either USA Gymnastics or the Olympic athletes. He did not lift a finger to alert USA Gymnastics member clubs, including Twistars, or Michigan State University, where Nassar continued to abuse dozens of other athletes.

But Blackmun’s actions without his lies to Ropes & Gray investigators is worse; Blackmun’s inaction was standard USOPC board policy. Athlete-complaints to the USOPC were to be handled by their NGB; but that’s who was typically inflicting the harm on the athlete. As matter of USOPC board policy, athletes were to be ignored.

Ropes & Gray described the USOPC and USA Gymnastics (USAG) as creating an "ecosystem" that facilitated Larry Nassar’s criminal acts; the organization and individuals ignored red flags, failed to recognize textbook grooming behaviors, established no boundaries between adults and children, and dismissed clear calls for help from girls and young women. The USOPC "…did not meaningfully involve athletes in decisions or policy-making; nor did it provide an effective avenue for athletes to raise and resolve complaints involving sexual misconduct matters."

The USOPC Board failed to conduct due diligence in numerous ways. First, the Board and leadership accepted Blackmun’s mantra that "Congress hasn’t given the USOPC the authority to interfere with NGBs; these are private businesses." This was never true, just the opposite; the Sports Act and USOPC by-laws require that the corporation protect athletes’ right to compete.

Second, the USOPC’s policies required the Olympic movement to knowingly ignore the interests of America’s athletes, including their health, their well-being, and their sexual safety. Despite actual knowledge of real athlete-vulnerability of sexual abuse and ongoing retaliation, no current member of the USOPC board or senior leadership called for a re-consideration of their dangerous USOPC policies to not help athletes in peril prior to Congressional and media involvement. As the Ropes & Gray report repeatedly stated:

Blackmun and the USOPC board did not adopt standard child‐protective measures.

Blackmun and the USOPC board decreased the voice of athletes in the governance process.

Blackmun and the USOPC board did not create meaningful avenues for athletes to alert the Olympic movement of problems.

Numerous athletes discussed their sexual abuse with Blackmun and USOPC board members directly, who refused to help them.

Even after the 2010 and 2012 USOPC working groups on sexual abuse, Blackmun and the USOC board never created an process to allow the Olympic movement to become aware of the type and number of sexual abuse allegations at NGBs.

The USOPC Board knew that their NGBs had inadequate policies, including overly formalized complaint processes, lack of sufficient training for employees handling sexual abuse matters, and inadequate attention to the risk of retaliation against athletes and others for raising complaints. Yet they did not require adoption of model policies and procedures.

Even in 2012, when the Board passed a requirement that NGBs prohibit romantic and sexual relationships between coaches and athletes, regardless of age or consent when there was a power differential, the USOPC Board did no follow-up to assure their resolution was followed, and it was not.

The current USOPC Board and senior staff continue to function without regard to the Ropes & Gray Report or to Congressional House Subcommittee Report. Worse, the USOC is still functioning without regard to the interests of its athletes. The athletes, elected by their peers, were not consulted about any severance package, or about January USOPC board appointments as they were being vetted.

Scott Blackmun presided over a time of financial and corporate growth, thanks mostly to an upward value of the Olympic brand and heavy marketing by NBC. Even though Olympians were no longer "Amateur" after 1991, athletes did not share in this financial growth. Today, over 80% of our Olympians live below the poverty-line. Blackmun accomplished this feat by intentional athlete disempowerment, as we outlined in February 2018. Sexual abuse was merely one of many symptoms of the underlying problem; athletes’ lack of power.

Athlete Disempowerment Since November, 2018:

Rich Bender and Steve Mesler were appointed to four-year terms on to the USOPC Board without input from the athletes or the AAC.

The USOPC formed a committee to gift some of the most lucrative marks, the Olympic rings, to colleges and universities, without athlete input, in violation of the Sports Act.

Athletes are still not permitted to use the marks for their own fundraising.

The USOPC has taken the position that it does not need to provide athletes with the due process protections guaranteed by the Sports Act and USOC by-laws. Athletes at Olympic Training Centers ("OTC") face weaponized, vague complaints, labeled as somehow related to "SafeSport". The complaints are along the lines of an anonymous "I don’t feel safe around this athlete." The NGB then verbally conveys this allegation to the USOPC. Rather than provide the athlete with Sports Act protections, it summarily bans the athlete from using the OTC and from receiving funding. (See Attached Team Integrity "USOC New Due Process Challenges")

Athlete health insurance discontinued when athletes need it most; when they become sick, injured or become pregnant, and their rankings drop. Otherwise, the USOPC is insuring some of the youngest, healthiest people in the insurance pool.

The USOPC required USA Women’s National Team in Soccer to sue their NGB when they face sex discrimination. Instead of the USOPC protecting the athlete, the USOPC funds the NGBs, including their legal costs against athletes.

Team Integrity had direct conversations and written communications about Sarah Hirshland about the problem with conflicts of interest when the USOPC hires AAC members. Yet Hirshland then went on to hire an AAC member, who just happened to sit on her CEO hiring committee just months prior.

USA Track and Field is currently failing to adhere to its own selection procedures for the Pan American Games. Moreover, USATF did not adhere to the requirements of a AAA arbitration, requiring that any affected athlete be part of the arbitration. The USOPC has not stepped in to help athletes.

USA Table Tennis adopted selection procedures that included the results of competitions that had already occurred. Additionally, the selection procedures gave undue discretion to the coach, rather than objective criteria, making them more vulnerable to abuse. The USOPC has not stepped in to help athletes.

Because of the most recent developments, the Committee to Restore Integrity to the USOC is insisting that the USOPC Board and its Senior Leadership must resign; the USOPC has now proven it cannot reform itself, and has done that over and over. Sarah Hirshland still has no response to retaliation against athletes that report abuse. (Aspen Institute and Around the Rings Interviews, 2019) No Board member called upon Congress to rectify any barrier that the Sports Act may have imposed. The USOPC Board continues to pay more attention to lavish employee compensation and perks than to athlete well-being.

Ed Williams, J.D., Olympian, one of the architects of the Sports Act in 1978, and lawyer frequently representing both athletes and NGBs, said, "No amount of spin from the USOPC can possibly justify the outrageous payment of $2.4 million, authorized by the USOPC Board, to one of Nassar’s chief enablers. Last year, the USOPC Board announced that Blackmun was resigning for health reasons. But we know, and everyone knows, that the Board knew he was involved in covering up for Nassar for months. While the USOP will not admit it publicly, Blackmun was in effect fired "for cause" by the Board, but nonetheless given a $2.4 million going away present to keep quiet."

Nancy Hogshead-Makar, J.D., Olympian and CEO of Champion Women said, "When the USOPC handed Scott Blackmun $2.4 million dollars prior to the completion of the many Nassar investigations, it failed to exercise its fiduciary duty over the Olympic and Paralympic movement. The investigations have all shown Blackmun lied; that he was complicit in creating the conditions for the athletes to be abused, and complicit in protecting his own position and the organization, rather than the athletes he was responsible for protecting. If this severance does not convince Congress and the public that the USOPC board and senior staff is not fit to govern our national treasure, our Olympic movement, I don’t know what will. Given what was known at the time, and certainly what is known now, the Board and its senior leadership must resign."

Eli Bremer, Olympian, Entrepreneur and Consultant said, "The USOPC is a nonprofit and Blackmun’s severance is offensive. Besides the embarrassing sum, the USOPC Board is not supposed to reward people who hurt athletes. It will not sit well with the athletes, the public at large or Congress. Suzanne Lyons and Sarah Hirshland keep telling us, ‘Trust me; we are turning the organization around,’ but we have not seen it. We call on more legislators to sign onto the bill sponsored by Senator Gardner and Congresswoman DeGette to re-write the Sports Act."

Members of Team Integrity include:

Executive Committee:

Ed Williams, J.D., Oly

Nancy Hogshead-Makar, J.D., Oly

Robert Allard, J.D.

Robert Andrews, MA, LMFT

Jessica Armstrong, J.D.

Eli Bremer, Oly

Chuck Foster, Former USOC Officer

Herman R. Frazier, Oly, Former USOC Officer

Kathy Johnson Clarke, Oly

Lucila Hemmingsen, J.D.

Micki King, Oly

Jon Little, J.D.

Donna Lopiano, Ph.D.

Charles Milam, former USOC Board Member

Dia Rianda

Eva Rodansky

Pat Rodowsky

Steven Sexton, Ph.D.

Jennifer Sey

Jennifer Spiegel, J.D.

Olympians, Coaches and Elite Athletes:

Mary Harvey, Oly

Greg Louganis, Oly

Scott Johnson, Oly

Julianne McNamara, Oly

Ariana Kukors Smith, Oly

Martina Navratilova, Oly

Nancy Lieberman, Oly

Horace Holden, Oly

Pam Shriver, Oly

Tai Babilonia, Oly

Tracee Talavera, Oly

Bill Stapleton, Oly

Dave Berkoff, Oly

Caroline Lind, Oly

Cynthia Potter, Oly

Taraje Williams-Murray, Oly

Don Barcome, Jr., Oly

Larry Hough, Oly, former AAC and USOC Officer

Mitzi Kramer Tighe, Oly

Marci Frederick, Oly

Scott Donie, Oly

Cristina Teuscher Fabbri, Oly

Ian Whatley, Oly

Keith Sanderson, Oly

Seth Kelsey, Oly

Bonny Warner Simi, Oly

Sebastian DeFrancesco, Oly

Joe Jacobi, Oly

Sean O’Neill, Oly

Eric Barnes, Oly

Barb Weinstein McGrath, Oly

Debby McCormick, Oly

Nick Peterson, Oly

Jennifer Hooker Brinegaar, Oly

Allen James, Oly

Brenda Borgh Bartlett, Oly

Janis Hape Dowd, Oly

Deb Armstrong, Oly

Anthony Zahn, Oly

Andrew Hermann, Oly

Carrie Sheinberg, Oly

Sue Heon-Preston, Oly

Allison Wagner, Oly

Linda Jezek Wittwer, Oly

Inga Thompson, Oly

Tiffany Cohen, Oly

Joan Hansen, Oly

Tracy Evans-Land, Oly

Cathy (Catherine) Hearn, Oly

Betsy Mitchell, Oly

Doug Lewis, Oly

Carrie Steinseifer Bates, Oly

Steve Gregg, Oly

Jack Elder, Oly

Deena Deardurff Schmidt, Oly

Arlene Limas, Oly

Stacey Liapis-Fuchsgruber, Oly

Troy Dumias, Oly

Justin Dumias, Oly

Christopher R. (Tiff) Wood, Oly

Tim Caldwell, Oly

John Morton, Oly

Loren Drum, Oly

Laurel (Brassey) Iverson, Oly, former AAC member

Jay Bowerman, Oly

Richard Mize, Oly

Glen Eberle, Oly

Dennis Donahue, Oly

Megan Neyer, Ph.D., Oly

Erik Henriksen, Oly

Dennis Donahue, Oly

Judy Blumberg, Oly

Tom Lough, Ph.D., Oly

Caroline Pingatore Holmes, Oly

David C. Johnson, M.D., Oly

Dana Schoenfield Reyes, Oly

Pat Winslow Connolly, Oly

Arlene Limas, Oly

Jeff Olson, Oly

Khadevis Robinson, Oly

Jim Galanes, Oly

Keith Frostad, Oly

Victoria King, M.D., Oly

Lynette Love, Oly

Kay Poe Sheffield, Oly

Julia Chase-Brand, Oly

Kendis Moore Drake, Oly

Pete Karns, Oly

Caroline Lalive, Oly

Jeffrey Swider-Peltz, Oly

Cathy Jean Marino, Oly

Alison Owen Bradley, Oly

Horace Holden, Oly

Sue Baker, Oly

Craig Ward, Oly

Bill Koch, Oly

Debbie Meyer, Oly

Jeff Farrell, Oly

Jim Henry, Oly

Joe Lamb, Oly

Levi Kirkpatrick, Oly

George Mount, Oly

Steve Cohen, Oly

Jan Margo Henne, Oly

Kevin Brochman, Oly

Randy Barnes, Oly

Justin Spring, Oly

Cale Simmons, Oly

Chelle Stack Marcella, Oly

Kellie Wells Brinkley, Oly

Lauren Gibbs, Oly

Nathan Schrimsher, Oly

Keith Brantly, Oly

Carol Newnan Cronin, Oly

Russell Hodge, Oly

Jimmy Pino, Oly

Ralph Wakley, Oly

Craig Lincoln, Oly

Michael Roth, Oly

Matthew Laue, Oly

John Caldwell, Oly and Oly Coach

Janet Ely, Oly and Coach

Bob Balk, Paralympian

Jon Lujan, Paralympian

Tahl Leibovitz, Paralympian

Ted Fey, Ph.D., Paralympian and IPC Member

Marty Hall, Oly Coach

Don Gambril, Oly Coach

Frank Thomas, Oly Coach

Jan Olesinski, Oly and Coach

Tracy Sundlun, Oly Team Manager

Monica Rowland, Elite Athlete and AAC Member

Art Stegen, Nat’l Team Coach

Doe Yamashiro, DO, Nat’l Team

Vanessa Atler, Nat’l Team

Peggy Haslach, Nat’l Team

Estee Pryor, Nat’l Team

Chris Riegel, Nat’l Team

Christine Loock, M.D., Nat’l Team

Patty Spees Maysent, Nat’l Team

John Walker, Nat’l Team Coach

Rebecca Carlson, Elite Coach

Pam Boteler, Elite Athlete

Dawn Riley, Elite Athlete

Carmen Small, Elite Athlete

Susie Kincade, Elite Athlete

Perry Toles, J.D., Elite Athlete

Nate Di Palma, Elite Athlete

Julie Whitman DeLucia

Chris DeSantis, Coach

Athletes Abused in Olympic Movement:

Rachael Denhollander, J.D.

Morgan McCall

Sarah Klein, J.D.

Danielle Moore, Psy.D.

Amanda Thomashow

Chrissy Weathersby Ball

Larissa Boyce

Sara Teristi

Diana Nyad

Jessica Howard

Courtney Kiehl

Bridie Farrell

Jancy Thompson

Debra Denithorne Grodensky

Dani Bostick

Mandy Maloon

Melissa Merson

Olivia Venuto

Danielle Moore, Psy.D.

Louise Harder

Grace French

Sarah Power Barnard

Kay Rogness

Julie Bremner Romias

Lisa Johnson

Sarah Ehekircher

Michele Kurtzman Greenfield

Child Protection Organizations:

The Army of Survivors

Champion Women


Equality League


Set The Expectation

Safety Advisors for Educational Campuses, LLC

Child Protection Leaders:

The Honorable Rosemarie Aquilina

Marci Hamilton, J.D.

Brenda Tracy

Michelle Simpson Tuegel, J.D.

Maddie Salamone, J.D.

S. Daniel Carter, J.D.

Sport Leaders:

Andrew Zimbalist, Ph.D., Sport Economist

Daniel Marburger, Ph.D., Sport Economist

Jacqueline A. Brummer, J.D.

Mark Conrad, J.D. Professor

Rene Henry

Myron Finkelstein, Graduate Professor, Global Sports Business

Dan Rascher, Ph.D., CVA, Sport Management Professor

Don Porter, former International Softball Federation

Becky Clark, Ph.D., CMPC,


Jeff Dimond, Executive in Olympic Movement

Becca Gillespy Peter

Hia Sebastian

Steve Delsohn

25 Years at #1: Your best source of news about the Olympics is, for subscribers only