By Phillip Whitten
PHOENIX, March 22. THE turmoil surrounding the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) and the vote to choose a successor to Dr. Sam Freas as President of the Hall, continued to swirl this morning as the Board of Directors failed to name a new head of the organization.
For the past three months a search committee, headed by Canadian Elvin Godfrey, a member of the ISHOF Board of Directors, has labored to choose a new president. From the beginning, Dale Neuburger, who recently resigned as head of the Indiana Sports Corporation, has been the favorite to be picked for the post. Neuburger, a Vice President of FINA, swimming’s international governing body, is currently President of US Aquatic Sports and is a former president of USA Swimming. In fact, Neuburger reportedly came within two votes of being offered the job in January without any search being done at all.
Fifteen candidates applied for the position. Four were chosen as semifinalists and then two were selected as finalists: Neuburger and Rowdy Gaines, 1984 triple Olympic gold medalist, TV swimming analyst and chief fund-raiser for USA Swimming.
The two finalists, seen as having different strengths, were interviewed via a telephone conference call two weeks ago and a decision was promised for last Thursday, March 17.
Twenty-one members of the ISHOF Board were eligible to vote for the new president, with ballots being sent both to Godfrey, reportedly a Neuburger supporter, and John Ebert, Chairman of the ISHOF Board and reportedly a Gaines supporter. The deadline for balloting was extended from last Thursday to last night at midnight.
According to several reliable sources, the voting has been extremely close all along with two sources indicating a 9-9 tie with three undecided voters, and a third saying the vote was 10-9 in favor of Neuburger with two undecided.
In any event, an announcement was due this morning, but as of noon, no announcement has been forthcoming.
Both candidates have indicated that should the other man be selected, he will continue to give the new president and the Hall of Fame his full support.