Former U.S. Olympic Committee boss Scott Blackmun, who was criticized in an internal review for his inaction in 2015-2016 on the committee’s sexual assault crisis, received $2.4 million in severance last year, tax forms made public Wednesday show.
Blackmun served as CEO of the Colorado Springs-based Olympic Committee during the scandal over sexual assaults tied to gymnastics and other Olympic sports. Blackmun, who resigned in 2018 citing health reasons, was later a prime subject in a third-party report which found he knew about allegations against gymnastics physician Larry Nassar a year before Nassar’s sexual assaults on athletes were made public.
“Inaction and concealment had consequences: dozens of girls and young women were abused during the yearlong period between the summer of 2015 and September 2016,” investigators said.
Nassar is serving a 175-year prison term in the sexual assaults.
The committee, which changed its name last month to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, issued the following statement Wednesday from board Chairwoman Susanne Lyons:
“In 2018 the USOPC board of directors approved a separation agreement including severance for former CEO Scott Blackmun.
At that time, based on the requirement for new leadership to guide the organization forward, as well as Blackmun’s serious health challenges, the board approved a separation agreement, as provided for in his contract.”
A committee spokesman didn’t reply to a question asking if the committee, which is facing a string of lawsuits tied to sexual assaults on athletes, has sought to recover any of Blackmun’s severance payment.
Blackmun’s Olympic Committee pay topped out at $1.35 million in 2017, putting him in the top 10 for executive compensation among American nonprofits. During eight years with the committee, he was lauded for growing revenues and striking profitable licensing and television deals.
He was replaced last year by new CEO Sarah Hirshland, whose agenda included cleaning up the committee and cracking down on misconduct in sport.
Under Hirshland’s watch, the committee more than doubled the amount it gives to SafeSport, a Denver nonprofit targeting sexual assault in sports, to $3.1 million. The SafeSport spending remains less than the $5.5 million the committee spent on anti-doping efforts.
Overall, the Olympic Committee boosted its assets by $23 million in 2018, up to $594 million.
Spending on athlete programs hit $110 million in 2018, up $10 million from the prior year.
Administrative costs, meanwhile, spiked to $31 million, which the committee attributes to spending tied to the sexual assault scandal and affiliated legal costs.
“The USOPC is currently providing more resources to athletes, NGBs and sport programming than at any point in our organization’s history,” Hirshland said in the statement.
“We’ve also instituted critical reforms that have helped to begin to regain the support of the public, our donors and partners, and that is reflected in the strength of our financial statements.”
Hirshland’s reforms and the committee’s boosted spending on athlete programs come as the committee has come under increased scrutiny from lawmakers.
Colorado Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and Denver Democratic U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette have introduced companion measures that would empower a blue-ribbon committee to come up with proposals for changes to the Olympic Committee.
Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240 Twitter: @xroederx