USA Swimming President, Athletes’ Executive Committee Chair Call for USOC Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 13. RON Van Pool, President of USA Swimming, and Bryan Jones, Vice President of USA-S and head of the Athletes' Executive Committee issued a statement today on USOC reform that was sent to the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

"Bryan and I feel strongly that USA Swimming should be on record in support of reform that improves the effectiveness of the USOC and national governing bodies (NGBs) to deliver programs and services to the athletes," said Van Pool.

"As we work cooperatively with the USOC, this statement is intended to be a first step in our interface with the Senate Committee."

USA Swimming, the National Governing Body (NGB) for swimming in the United States and a Group A member of the United States Olympic Committee offers the following statement to the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation for its hearings on USOC Reforms.

USA Swimming’s Mission Statement is:

USA Swimming is the National Governing Body for the sport of swimming. We administer competitive swimming in accordance with the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act. We provide programs and services for our members, supporters, affiliates and the interested public. We value these members of the swimming community, and the staff and volunteers who serve them. We are committed to excellence and the improvement of our sport.

The 45 NGB’s of the USOC each have similar mission statements. NGB’s are the primary organizations delivering services to our Olympic athletes and to the grassroots support systems that nurture our future Olympians. Each NGB has its own unique relationship with the USOC and each is distinct in how it delivers services to its constituencies. However, it is vitally important that the leadership of the USOC and each NGB understands and focuses on targeted and effective delivery of service to athletes. Ultimately, it is through the NGB’s that athlete support services and programs are developed and provided.

Unfortunately, it has become increasingly difficult for the USOC and the NGB’s to have the continuity and stability required to accomplish their missions. NGB’s have been hindered in their ability to serve their athletes by the seemingly endless distractions resulting from the many changes in both volunteer and staff leadership at the USOC.

Some have suggested that changing the governance structure of the USOC will remedy many of its problems as well as those of the NGB’s. The USOC governance structure is large and very inclusive. A myriad of interests are represented on its Board of Directors and committees. Being inclusive and broadly based can be both positive and negative. Before an organization is reorganized, its leadership and its constituencies need to agree on the mission, core objectives and fundamental strategic directions for the organization. Reorganizing for the sake of reducing complexity or conflict without first clearly understanding the organization’s strategic directions and goals is fruitless.

The NGB’s, as the primary delivery mechanism for service to our athletes, can provide clear and specific input and counsel concerning mission, core objectives and strategic directions for the USOC. USA Swimming urges your Committee to consider what the real mission and objectives of the USOC should be before beginning to recommend changes.

Throughout the recent controversies at the USOC, USA Swimming has remained focused and dedicated to serving its athletes. USA Swimming is often recognized as one of the best organized and highest performing NGB’s in both athletic performance and constituent services. In the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games our team won 34% of all the medals awarded to United States athletes. USA Swimming firmly supports efforts to reform the USOC in ways that will secure public confidence and pride in our Olympic sports system. Reform, however, should not be a swift move in favor of streamlined leadership if this approach jeopardizes the necessary involvement of NGB’s in the decision-making structure of the USOC and core organizational objectives and constituent services. As the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee moves forward in its review of the USOC, USA Swimming would be pleased to offer input and assistance as appropriate.

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