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USOC Holds Seminar on the Decline of Olympic Sports, Leaders of the Fight Not Invited -- June 26, 2002

INDIANAPOLIS, June 26. THE United States Olympic Committee (USOC) is sponsoring a one-day seminar to address the decline of Olympic sports programs in American colleges and universities. The meeting, which takes place today at the University Place Hotel in Indianapolis, is being held "in an effort to identify alternatives to the current trend of eliminating collegiate programs that include Olympic sports," according to a USOC press release.

The discussion at this gathering of what the USOC calls "thought leaders on the subject" reportedly will focus on finding methods for maintaining solid American
athletic performance in affected sports beyond the 2004 Olympic Games.

Inexplicably, none of the leaders in the struggle to bring attention to and find solutions for this grave problem have been invited to the seminar. These include Northwestern University swim coach Bob Groseth, George Block of the American Swimming Coaches association (ASCA), and Phil Whitten of Swimming World. Equally strange, no athletes were invited to participate.

According to Block, a former president of ASCA, the meeting was called at the initiative of Chuck Wielgus, Executive Director of USA Swimming, to his great credit. Wielgus, of course, had nothing to do with the selection of who would be invited to attend the meeting.

Recently, Wielgus has become aware of the gravity of the problem. He was largely responsible for USA Swimming’s decision to print and distribute several thousands of copies of Phil Whitten’s booklet, "How to Save Your Swim Program." The book analyzes the problem of the decline in Olympic sports – particularly men’s Olympic sports; outlines steps coaches should take to immunize their teams from being cut; and lists steps coaches should take if their teams are already slated for the ax.

It is not clear how serious the USOC is about addressing the problem of the precipitous decline of Olympic and other so-called “minor” sports at the collegiate level. Still, the fact that a discussion is even taking place is a hopeful sign. Former USOC president Sandra Baldwin indicated little interest in the issue during her brief presidency..


According to the USOC, program topics at the seminar will include:
• The Facts and Figures Regarding the Decline in Olympic Sports on
College Campuses
• The NCAA Perspective
• The Economics of College and University Sports Programs
• Women's Perspectives
• Legislative Issues
• National Governing Body View

"What we hope to begin is a very frank conversation on how we can curb the
current tide that has seen the elimination of programs that have a direct
impact on the performance and talent pool of our Olympic-caliber athletes,"
said Lloyd Ward, USOC Chief Executive Officer. "For decades the college
community has been a major contributor to the development and success of
our Olympic athletes. Through the creative thinking of the individuals on
this panel, we hope to ensure our universities will continue to produce
future generations of American heroes."

Among the sports and community leaders invited to participate are:
Lloyd D. Ward, Chief Executive Officer, USOC
Marty Mankamyer, Acting President, USOC
Jim Scherr, Senior Managing Director, USOC
Jeff Benz, General Counsel, USOC
Herman Frazier, USOC Vice President and Athletic Director, University of
Alabama, Birmingham
Richard Aronson, Executive Director, National Gymnastics Coaches
Association
Rosie Stallman, Director, Education Outreach, NCAA
Marilyn McNeil, Chair, NCAA Women's Committee
Julie Chen, Chief Legal Officer, U.S. Tennis Association
Jessica Gavora, Author
Christine Grant, Professor, University of Iowa
David Roach, Athletics Director, Brown University
Steven Bull, Director, Government Relations, USOC
Mike Harrigan, Former Commissioner, President's Commission on Olympic
Sports
Eric Pearson, Chairman, College Sports Council
Chuck Wielgus, Executive Director, USA Swimming
Rich Bender, Executive Director, USA Wrestling
Bob Colarossi, President, USA Gymnastics
Craig Masback, CEO, USA Track and Field


Wednesday, June 26 Schedule
University Place Hotel, Indianapolis

Noon-1:00 p.m. Lunch

1:00-1:30 p.m.
Opening Remarks
Lloyd Ward, CEO, USOC
Marty Mankamyer, Acting President, USOC

1:30-1:50 p.m.
The Facts and Figures Regarding the Decline in Olympic Sports on
College Campuses
Jim Scherr, Senior Managing Director, USOC

1:50-2:45 p.m.
Legislative Issues; Historical Activity and Prospective Opportunity
Steven Bull, Director, Government Relations, USOC
Mike Harrigan, Former Executive Director, President's Commission on
Olympic Sports
Eric Pearson, Chairman, College Sports Council

2:45-3:00 p.m. Break

3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.
The NCAA Perspective
Rosie Stallman, Director, Education Outreach, NCAA
Marilyn McNeil, Chair, NCAA Women's Committee

4:00-4:45 p.m.
NGB Perspectives
Chuck Wielgus, Executive Director, USA Swimming
Rich Bender, Executive Director, USA Wrestling
Bob Colarossi, President, USA Gymnastics
Craig Masback, CEO, USA Track and Field

4:45-5:45 p.m.
The Economics of College and University Sports Programs
Herman Frazier, Athletic Director, University of Alabama, Birmingham
David Roach, Athletic Director, Brown University
Richard Aronson, Executive Director, Gymnastics Coaches Assoc.

5:45-6:00 p.m. Break

6:00-7:00 p.m.
Women's Perspectives
Julie Chen, Chief Legal Officer, U.S. Tennis Association
Jessica Gavora, Author
Christine Grant, Professor, University of Iowa

7:00-7:30 p.m.
Closing Remarks/Toward a Path to Progress
Marty Mankamyer, Acting President, USOC
Lloyd Ward, CEO, USOC