FLASH!! Lloyd Ward Resigns as Executive Director of the USOC -- March 1, 2003
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., March 1. LLOYD Ward resigned as CEO of the U.S Olympic Committee on Saturday, capping three months of turmoil for the world's most powerful Olympic organization.
"It's a done deal," USOC spokesman Bob Condron said in confirming the move. He declined additional comment, but said a statement would be issued later in the day.
The USOC upheaval that began in December with Ward being investigated for a possible conflict of interest also has included Senate hearings and the resignations of six other top officials, including president Marty Mankamyer.
Ward's decision came four days after the USOC's executive committee discussed his job status in a conference call and a day after two U.S. senators visiting USOC headquarters in Colorado Springs said they might have found evidence of fraud.
The USOC's revolving door now has seen six presidents and CEOs leave since 2000.
Mankamyer, the organization's highest-ranking volunteer, resigned Feb. 4 after colleagues accused her of trying to oust Ward in an attempt to gain more power.
Ward, a former Maytag CEO, was hired to replace Norm Blake in October 2001. Blake lasted just nine months before resigning in 2000 amid internal strife.
Ward has been under fire since he was accused of trying to steer Olympic business to a company with ties to his brother. No deal was made, but after an ethics investigation, Ward was reprimanded and stripped of a $184,800 bonus.
Since then, a top sponsor has threatened to pull out of a $10 million endorsement deal, Congress stepped in, and ethics compliance officer Pat Rodgers was among the half-dozen members who quit.
On Friday, Republican Sens. Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado and Ted Stevens of Alaska said they might have found evidence of fraud during a visit to USOC's headquarters.
Campbell, Stevens and Arizona Sen. John McCain are part of a Senate Commerce Committee investigating ways to streamline the unwieldy structure of the troubled organization. They appointed a task force to look at reforming the 1978 law that gave the USOC its charter, and Campbell repeatedly called for Ward to resign.
In a conference call Tuesday, two members of the USOC's executive committee called for a vote to oust Ward, and five others questioned whether he could continue as CEO amid the widening crisis. No vote was called after interim president Bill Martin said the meeting was not official.
A flurry of accusations have followed Ward since the executive committee reprimanded him Jan. 13.
The Gazette of Colorado Springs reported last week that Ward and his wife billed the USOC for $115,664 in travel expenses last year, including a trip to see an Evander Holyfield fight and several trips to Florida.
Lita Ward also flew by herself to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Los Angeles last January and went with her husband to the U.S. Open tennis tournament. Ward said his wife sometimes takes his place at official functions.
Ward also was accused of asking officials at the Salt Lake City Olympics to give preferential treatment to the man who built his house in Colorado Springs.
Last year, Ward was criticized for his membership at all-male Augusta National Golf Club, site of the Masters.
David D'Alessandro, CEO of John Hancock Financial Services, demanded in January that the USOC provide a financial report or his company might invoke a morals clause to pull out of its sponsorship deal.