USA Water Polo Responds to Online Petition Calling for Graff, Ramsey Removal

Happier times for USAWP CEO Chris Ramsey (seen here with Dan Klatt in 2019). Photo Courtesy: Jun Tolibao / USAWP

In response to the petition launched Wednesday calling for the resignation of USA Water Polo CEO Christopher Ramsey and Board Chair Michael Graff, late Wednesday night the organization released a statement. It alleges that one of the USAWP’s staff members is listed as a supporter without their consent.

usawpWith approximately 500 signatures as of Thursday, thus far the call for the removal of Graff and Ramsey—who for the past 14 years have overseen the national governing body for polo in America—has not yet resonated with organization’s approximately 45,000 members. There’s still time; the USAWP annual general assembly will be held on Saturday, January 30th.  A virtual affair, it presumably will provide a forum for petition signers to discuss their concerns.

[Rafael Ruano Weighs in on Petition to Fire USA Water Polo’s Graff, Ramsey]

It should be noted that Graff, who in 2006 was tapped  by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) to lead a  reorganization of USAWP, announced last year that 2020 would be his last as the organization’s board chair.

[Mike Graff, Chairman of USA Water Polo, On The Record]

Following is the statement by USA Water Polo:

We have learned from a member of our staff that she was added as a signatory to this petition without her permission.  In light of this, we have serious concerns about the agenda of the parties behind the petition and whether the parties purportedly supporting the petition in fact do so.  As a consequence, we have launched an investigation regarding the petition.

USA Water Polo has grown dramatically over the last decade. Today, USA Water Polo is an organization at the service of one of the fastest growing sports in America with tens of thousands of members across the country. The organization’s top priority is the health and safety of its athletes so that they can achieve optimal performance in the sport. As a service organization, USA Water Polo has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind. In full compliance with the Amateur Sports Act and in cooperation with the U.S. Center for SafeSport, USA Water Polo has formally adopted rules of conduct and grievance procedures for enforcing its rules that strictly address abuse and, through the Center, provide instant, anonymous methods for reporting abuse of any type.

Over the past decade, USAWP policies and procedures have been examined and refined, and these policies matter because they ensure the effective, impartial handling of grievances in accordance with due process principles. The founding of the US Center for SafeSport in 2017 was an important step in the Olympic movement to address abuse, and the Center now claims exclusive jurisdiction over cases of sexual abuse as a matter of law. As much as we would like to share specific details about cases or handle them as we see fit, due to privacy and confidentiality that protect those who have filed grievances, we cannot share the details of grievances.  Also, our respect for the rule of law requires that we follow our duly adopted policies and procedures and those of the Center. We also continue to diligently focus on safety in our sport. The last year has seen the development of our safety rules to address COVID-19, in the interest of protecting athletes and their families from the virus while still working to develop their competitive abilities. In addition, the USA Water Polo Racial Equity & Reform Task Force was launched in 2020, charged with ensuring zero tolerance of racism and access to water polo for all. USA Water Polo is wholly committed to sustaining an environment where athletes can focus on their performance to compete safely, and we are proud to have achieved this with a 100 percent compliance rating by the U.S. Center for SafeSport’s auditors.

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