USOC Rejects USA Swimming Athlete Partnership Plan; Open To Altered Plan

Updated September 9 with full proposals from May and August 2010

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, September 8. ACCORDING to an internal USA Swimming memo acquired by Swimming World, the United States Olympic Committee has rejected the USA Swimming Athlete Partnership Plan proposal.

The Plan, as reported previously and provided below, would have doubled the stipend for post-graduate and professional National Team swimmers in the U.S.

As detailed in the memo, a USOC representative explained that the USOC would not support funding the program now that the Athlete Partnership Plan no longer includes a contractual requirement for those taking the increased stipend.

The initial iteration of the Athlete Partnership Plan, as previously reported by Swimming World and provided below, called for a contract between National Teamers taking the stipend and USA Swimming requirement specific support of the national governing body and the sport of swimming overall in the U.S. in exchange for the extra funds. The most recent proposal eliminated this requirement.

The USOC representative did state after a subsequent request by USA Swimming that if a contract was included in a future proposal, the USOC would likely welcome the change and fund the Plan.

The ball is back in USA Swimming's court now, and the Board of Directors will likely discuss the Plan at its next meeting taking place next week.

Original Athletes Partnership Agreement Proposal – May 2010
The plan identifies three objectives to support Pro and Post Graduate swimmers:

1. Increase Funding Opportunities
2. Deliver Valuable services
3. Create New Revenue Opportunities

Different parts of each of these objectives will be phased in in three parts in September 2010, January 2011 and at some point in 2013.

To be part of these changes, swimmers will be required to sign an Athlete Partnership Agreement (APA). The APA would require participating athletes to compete at the following events on an annual basis:

Pool Athletes
o ConocoPhillips USA Swimming National Championships
o AT&T Short Course National Championships
o Minimum of three Grand Prix Series meets
Open Water Athletes
o Open Water 10K National Championships
o Minimum of three FINA 10K Open Water World Cup Competitions

Additionally, the APA requires participating athletes to:

o Maintain current USA Swimming membership
o Comply with FINA, IOC, WADA, USADA Doping Control Program requirements, deadlines, and whereabouts updates
o Comply with deadlines from NT staff on forms, information requests, etc.
o Attend Professional Swimming Orientation Camp in first year eligible

Along with agreeing to the following:

o Grant USA Swimming name and image to promote USA Swimming programs and events (ex. Make a Splash, Splash Bash, IMX, coaches' training videos, educational materials, etc.) and the sport of swimming
o Up to two (2) appearances per year on behalf of USA Swimming or the USA Swimming Foundation (ex. autograph signings at events, donor "meet and greets," sponsor meetings, fundraisers, etc.)
o Autograph 25 items for USA Swimming for thank you gifts, charity auctions, etc.
o Incorporate messages about growing the sport in media appearances
o Promote USA Swimming on the same level as athlete's corporate partners
o Be available to speak to the media at National and International competitions

USA Swimming will be providing various levels of support to participating athletes, including:

o Increase annual financial support from $21k to $50k
o Increase the number of athletes to receive this support from 40 to 56.
o Increase travel reimbursement per national event per athlete from $312 to $414
o Increase athlete investment plan grant funds available from $94,100 to $100k
o Drastically increase Grand Prix prize money from $20k to $75k
o Create prize money for Nationals in long course, short course and open water from $0 to $150k, $75k and $10k respectively

More support systems would also implement a whole host of services for participating athletes:
o Professional Swimming Orientation Camp – A camp in the Fall to kick off the Athlete Partnership Plan
o Speaker's Network – partner with the USOC to promote speaking opportunities for athletes.
o Financial Consulting Services – individual financial counseling and referrals.
o Legal Fund – help athletes with contracts related to sponsorships and marketing related to their swimming career.
o Image Management – training on public speaking, media and management of image.
o Sponsor Networking Opportunities – social functions at events to allow interaction with potential sponsors.
o National Team Athlete Web Portal – online resource for NT communication, grant and funding opportunities, alumni networking, etc.

Finally, USA Swimming will work towards creating new revenue opportunities for participating athletes:
o Equipment and Apparel Advertising
Propose rulebook changes to allow the following:
• 2 sponsor logo locations on suits (20 sq cm each)
• 2 sponsor logo locations on caps (20 sq cm each)
• 2 sponsor logo locations on goggles (6 sq cm each)
• 2 sponsor logo locations on warm-ups
• Body art or temporary tattoos that are advertisements or logos will not be permitted

o Athlete Integration in Corporate Opportunities
Through this plan, the Business Development Division of USA Swimming will create the following opportunities for athletes:
• A more concerted effort to incorporate athletes into sponsor deals.
• A greater focus on companies that can provide benefits to athletes (eg. career planning, online universities, food, etc.).
• Incentive bonus for athletes if they bring a successful corporate partnership to USA Swimming (note: this benefit open to all NT athletes).
• A concerted effort to create sponsor "perks" for athletes (ex. hotel discounts, cell phone service discounts, etc.).
• Merchandise opportunities TBD

Adjusted Athletes Partnership Plan Proposal – August 2010
1) Athlete Contract: Athletes will not be required to sign a contract with USA Swimming to receive any of the proposed benefits.
2) Stipend Amount: The current stipend amount will be doubled (from $1750/mo to $3500/mo) for pro and post-grad athletes. The stipend for NCAA-eligible athletes will remain at $1750/mo and increase pending approval from the NCAA.
3) Eligibility: To receive the increased stipend amount, athletes must:
• Make the USA National Team by being in the top 6 American athletes in an Olympic event from the combined results of that season's designated championship meets;
• Be ranked in the Top 16 in the world in an individual Olympic event or finish in the Top 16 at the Open Water World Championships; and
• Have exhausted or given up their NCAA eligibility.
There is no age minimum in this proposal and athletes can live abroad and train with foreign clubs and still receive the increased stipend.
4) Prize Money: $100,000 in prize money will be offered at the 2011 National Championships and the 2011 Open Water 10K National Championship. Prize money will also be offered at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.
5) Services: The following services will be offered as new National Team services: Orientation Camp, Image Management, Financial Planning, and the USOC Speaker's Referral Network. The Legal Fund will not be offered as a National Team service.
6) Performance Requirements: All athletes receiving funding from USA Swimming will be required to submit a seasonal plan on September 30 or within 30 days of accepting the Athlete Partnership stipend. Athletes will not be required to submit updates to the seasonal plan to the USA Swimming Nationals Team division. Athletes will be encouraged to support the Grand Prix meet series and include these events in the calendar section of the seasonal plan.
7) Support the Sport Requirements: Athletes will be required to adhere to all National Team Division and USADA deadlines. Athletes will be asked to identify two opportunities to support the sport within the LSC, community, hometown, or other similar opportunity.
8) Marketing Requirements: There will be no marketing requirements to receive the increased pro and post grad stipend amount. The USA Swimming Business Development division will use any additional funds from the proposed budget to work directly with athletes for marketing and appearance related opportunities.
9) Monitoring: The USA Swimming National Division staff will present an annual report to the Board of Directors reflecting the athletes' performance and commitment to the Performance and Support the Sport Requirements.

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