Save this content for laterSave this content on your device for later, even while offline Sign in with FacebookSign in with your Facebook account Close

Woody Paige: USOC CEO Scott Blackmun made right choice by resigning

March 1, 2018 Updated: March 1, 2018 at 10:40 pm
0

Scott Blackmun ultimately made the most appropriate decision for himself, the U.S. Olympic Committee and the organization's future and, most important, the myriad American Olympic women athletes who have been sexually abused, harassed, scarred physically and mentally, exploited and victimized for decades.

Blackmun, CEO of the Colorado Springs-based USOC, resigned Wednesday.

He did not speak publicly, but the USOC statement cited "ongoing health issues resulting from prostate cancer'' as the resignation reason. Blackmun sent an email to his staff Jan. 22 acknowledging he had been diagnosed with the disease, and he underwent surgery Jan. 26 at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical campus. Three days later a USOC spokesman told me Blackmun was recovering in the hospital.

Blackmun said that he would not attend the opening ceremonies of 2018 Winter Games, but planned to fly to South Korea at some point doing the Olympics. He did not.

Addressing a news conference in Pyeongchang, the organization's board chairman, Larry Probst, said Blackmun had "served the USOC with distinction. ... We think that he did what was he was supposed to do, and he did the right thing at every turn." On Wednesday, Probst stated: "Given Scott's current health situation, we have mutually agreed it is in the best interest of both Scott and the USOC that we identify new leadership so that we can immediately address the urgent initiatives ahead of us."

Blackmun did not do the right thing at every turn, especially throughout the monumental, monstrous Larry Nassar scandal.

He did the right thing Wednesday. The Olympic movement must move in an innovative, resolute direction.

Susanne Lyons has been named acting CEO.

Blackmun had the same interim position in 2001 before he returned in 2010 without "temporary" in the CEO title. It was not permanent.

The USOC certainly needs fresh leadership, perspective and attitude. Forbes Magazine listed the most powerful women executives in the country months ago, and all should receive consideration. My choice would be Nancy Hogshead-Makar, winner of three Olympic gold medals in swimming, a law student graduate and prominent attorney, a Title IX activist, a staunch defender of gender equality in sports and, most recently, a spearhead with the "Committee to Restore Integrity to The USOC" and an outspoken critic of Blackmun.

Why not a female, a former Olympian, a proven leader in female rights, law and athletics and someone who competed in a sport that has suffered with serious abuse allegations and charges?

However, the USOC board members, who individually must consider if he or she should resign, will not act on a succeeding CEO soon. Blackmun and the board had commissioned an independent investigation by a Boston law firm into the lack of actions associated with Nassar, the USOC itself and the dozens of sports organizations under the Olympic umbrella.

This is not the end-all. It's just the beginning of a necessary restructuring of the USOC, whose principle purpose over the years seemed to be fundraising. The main objectives should be the protection and development of young athletes, more control over, and guidance, of the unwieldy sports organizations and a different approach to the meaning of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Blackmun is a father, an honorable man, a proud Coloradan in his adult life, a strong defender of the United States in the Olympics and a well-intentioned executive who somehow and for some time became ensnared in the morass and quagmire of in-fighting, incompetency and cover-ups of USA Gymnastics officials, and their counterparts in other sports, who appeared to care more about protecting their jobs and themselves than they did in safeguarding girls and boys, young men and women.

At the same moment of Blackmun's resignation, the USOC unveiled several reforms - including doubling contributions to the Center for SafeSport that, after too many years of delay, opened in Denver in 2017; giving athletes more of a voice - at last - in the USOC; and more funding and support of the gymnasts "impacted" by Nassar's crimes and athletes from other sports who have been abused.

Scott Blackmun may achieve more for the all-encompassing USOC by resigning than serving as the boss. He made a wise, rational choice.

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Incognito Mode Your browser is in Incognito mode

You vanished!

We welcome you to read all of our stories by signing into your account. If you don't have a subscription, please subscribe today for daily award winning journalism.

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

It appears that you value local journalism. Thank you.

Subscribe today for unlimited digital access with 50% fewer ads for a faster browsing experience.

Already a Subscriber? LOGIN HERE

Wake up with today's top stories in your inbox

Wake up with today's top stories in your inbox

or
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?
 
This is your last FREE article for the month
This is your last FREE article for the month

Subscribe now and enjoy Unlimited Digital Access to Gazette.com

Only 99 cents for Unlimited Digital Access for 1 month
Then $2.31/week, billed monthly, cancel anytime
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?

 
You have reached your article limit for the month
You have reached your article limit for the month

We hope that you've enjoyed your complimentary access to Gazette.com

Only 99 cents for Unlimited Digital Access for 1 month
Then $2.31/week, billed monthly, cancel anytime
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?
 

Exclusive Subscriber Content

You read The Gazette because you care about your community and the local stories you can't find anywhere else.

Only 99 cents for Unlimited Digital Access for 1 month
Then $2.31/week, billed monthly, cancel anytime
Already a print subscriber? Get Access | Already a digital subscriber? Log In
 
articles remaining
×
Thank you for your interest in local journalism.
Gain unlimited access, 50% fewer ads and a faster browsing experience.