By Steve Wilstein
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – The U.S. Olympic Committee will start with a clean slate of leaders at least a year before the scandal-plagued 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
One of the most harrowing years in U.S. Olympic history is ending with USOC president Bill Hybl’s decision to follow executive director Dick Schultz in stepping down. Hybl told USOC board members Sunday that he will not seek reelection and will leave office after completing his four-year term at the end of 2000. In a year when a bribery scandal in Salt Lake City stained the Olympic image, three of the most powerful men in the USOC have announced their resignations former marketing boss John Krimsky, Schultz, and now Hybl.
Hybl, 57, said his business obligations as chief executive officer of the philanthropic El Pomar Foundation and vice chairman of the luxurious Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs were too pressing to continue his 40-60 hour a week volunteer position at the USOC.
”Dick and I talked about this over the last three months,” Hybl said. ”It really is a question of being able to devote the amount of time necessary.” Hybl said the deciding factor was his feeling that he had to devote all his energy at the USOC over the next 14 months to moving ahead with an indepenent drug-testing program and putting restructuring proposals into place without spending time running for another term.
”There are some regrets,” Hybl said, saying he might have pushed sooner for the independent drug-testing. ”I think for all of us currently in office, Salt Lake City and, to a lesser degree, Atlanta have had an impact on the way that we’ve been perceived by the public. And it’s our job then to work even harder to bring the true Olympic ideals back to the forefront.”
Schultz praised Hybl’s quiet, steadying influence in the face of scandal. ”He did a great job in providing the leadership we needed during the Salt Lake City challenge,” Schultz said. ”The thing everybody has to realize is that the president’s job, as it’s constructed now, demands a huge amount of time. I’m amazed that he or any other volunteer could give that amount of time. This is a job you don’t get paid for. You get all the crap and none of the glory.”
Schultz announced two months ago that he would resign as soon as a replacement was found. He could be replaced as early as February. ”I’ll be 71 by the time of Sydney,” Schultz said. ”What we need now in a chief executive officer is somebody willing to come in and make a 5- to 10-year commitment, start the changes, see them through and have that continuity. My family would kill me if I made another five-year commitment.”
Hybl said he believes ”the transition will be seamless” as the USOC installs new leaders. He and Schultz will continue to help with fund raising and act as advisors.
”As far as the chairman/president role goes,” Hybl said, ”there are 20 to 25 individuals in this movement in the United States that could do that job starting tomorrow, and that’s why I’m comfortable.”
Hybl said he also believes that International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch is serious about reforming the IOC in the wake of its bribery scandal. ”He is making, I believe, many of the right steps to present a new face of the IOC to the world,” Hybl said. ”The greatest thing he is doing is involving the athletes, electing their own representatives, 15 of them, to serve on the IOC as voters.”
The USOC already has 20 athletes on its 113-member board, while 20 percent of the executive committee is made up of athletes. ”They will be the legacy,” Hybl said. ”They’re not always right, in my view, but they certainly are a conscience to this organization.”