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USAG Seats Interim Board as Blackmun Resigns from USOC
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An interim board of directors has been seated at USA Gymnastics — meeting today's deadline set last month by the United States Olympic Committee — but not without controversy as allegations have arisen that the troubled governing body did not follow protocol in seating one of its new directors.

Karen Golz, a retired executive from Ernst & Young, is the new interim chairwoman of the board, which was seated by telephone conference on Monday. Golz is one six independent new board members whose experience is expected to be vital in rescuing the beleaguered organization, which has been accused of fostering a culture in which physical, psychological and sexual abuse of athletes was ignored.

Golz spent 40 years at corporate giant Ernst & Young and recently retired as its global vice chair. The five independent directors joining Golz on the board are attorney Lois Elizabeth Bingham, pediatrician Dr. James Crawford-Jakubiak; sports executive Deborah Slaner Larkin of the Women's Sports Foundation; public relations consultant David Rudd and professor of social work Julie Springwater.

The sport and Olympic movement remain embroiled in controversy as fallout from the Larry Nassar tragedy has continued. USOC CEO Scott Blackmun resigned Wednesday afternoon amid massive pressure over the USOC's response to sex abuse in gymnastics and other sports, which is now the subject of at least three Congressional investigations. More than 250 women and girls have come forward since September 2016 to report that Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor and Michigan State University physician, sexually assaulted them under the guise of medical treatment. Civil lawsuits have alleged that Michigan State University was aware of the allegations against Nassar as early as 1997 and that USA Gymnastics was aware as early as 1998; both organizations have denied this in their respective motions to dismiss. Nassar was sentenced to 300 years in prison after pleading guilty in three cases involving sexual assault and child pornography.

On January 25, following the shocking victim impact statements from survivors of Nassar's sex abuse delivered at his first sentencing hearing, Blackmun issued a six-point set of directives in a letter to USA Gymnastics, which it must meet or face decertification as the governing body for the sport of the gymnastics in the United States. The entire USA Gymnastics board of directors was forced to resign within a week and an interim board seated within a month. A permanent replacement board must be seated within 12 months of the letter.

The USA Gymnastics Board of Directors is responsible for all business and affairs of USA Gymnastics through overseeing the management of USAG and its affairs. Pursuant to current bylaws, 21 individuals comprise the board: seven membership directors for the sports disciplines (two each for women's artistic gymnastics, and men's artistic gymnastics, and one each for sports acrobatics, rhythmic gymnastics, and trampoline and tumbling); five athlete representatives (one for each discipline); five independent directors; and a chairperson of the board. The President and CEO of USA Gymnastics is chosen by and reports to the board of directors.

The new chair is expected to take a hardline approach in reviewing the performance of CEO Kerry Perry, Chief Operating Officer Ron Galimore and other key figures at USA Gymnastics, particularly in light of the unfolding controversy over one of the three seats on the interim board designated for representatives by USA Gymnastics' Advisory Council. The Advisory Council is a group of representatives from 20 national organizations that have an interest in gymnastics, including the Amateur Athletic Union, the National High School Gymnastics Association, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, YMCA, and the Special Olympics.

Like the membership directors (elected by professional members) and the athlete representatives (elected by athletes), the Advisory Council elects its own three members itself, according to USAG Bylaws, section 4.2(d):

Advisory Council Directors (three [3] Directors). The Board shall include three (3) Advisory Council Directors elected by the affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the Advisory Council pursuant to procedures established by the Advisory Council.

On February 11, Bobbie Cesarek (National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches - Women), Evelyn Chandler (National Association of Women's Gymnastics Judges) and Kevin White (U.S. Elite Coaches Association - Men) were elected by the Advisory Council to serve as its three directors on the interim board. According to numerous interviews, as well as email correspondence reviewed by IG, USA Gymnastics has been accused of ignoring the results of the Advisory Council's vote and replacing White with Cindy Bickman (Special Olympics) when it posted a board update on its website on February 14.

White, a coach and gym club owner from Mississippi, is also the Region 8 Men's Chairman and in the past has served as floor manager at U.S. championships, the most recent in 2012. On February 16, he informed the other Advisory Council members by email that he never resigned.

There is no mechanism for USA Gymnastics to reject a duly elected director. A director can only voluntarily resign from the position by submitting written notice to the chair (Bylaw 4.3). If a director does not meet the requirements for the position, or fails to meet the participation requirements established by the board, the director can be removed by a vote of two-thirds from the board (Bylaw 4.4). Directors may also be removed by court order, according to the laws of Indiana, where USA Gymnastics is a registered non-profit corporation.

Tom James, an attorney retained by USA Gymnastics in relation to the new board, told IG on Sunday that White voluntarily resigned when asked.

"Contrary to reports circulating on social media and elsewhere, USA Gymnastics did not remove Kevin White," James said. "Rather, given Mr. White's recent and visible service as a paid member of USA Gymnastics' events staff, USA Gymnastics requested that the Advisory Council reconsider his appointment, with an indication that the request was in no way a reflection on Mr. White. The Advisory Council did so, advising USA Gymnastics that Mr. White had graciously stepped aside as one of its Board appointees. It was thought that this resolved the matter, with Mr. White's understanding and cooperation. Subsequent characterizations of this matter that have been disseminated are unfortunately inaccurate."

Neither James nor USA Gymnastics Vice President of Communication Leslie King responded to IG's request to provide evidence of White's resignation from his duly elected position, nor the name of the person on the Advisory Council who advised USA Gymnastics that he had resigned. Likewise, neither responded to inquiries to explain what bearing any "recent and visible service as a paid member of USA Gymnastics' events staff" has on the election of a board director or where in USA Gymnastics bylaws or U.S. Olympic Committee's directives specifically prohibits someone with that background from serving on the board.

Pursuant to USAG's Bylaw 2.4(b), a person is ineligible to serve as a director if he or she is not yet 18 years of age; has been convicted of a felony; was suspended for one year or more for a doping offense; committed a Safe Sport violation resulted in suspension, termination or revocation of USAG membership; failed to successfully complete the mandatory criminal background check; or is on USA Gymnastics' list of permanently ineligible members. Directors must also be legally allowed to work in the U.S. without sponsorship, as either a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. The five independent directors are the only board members who must meet criteria the "standard of independence" from USA Gymnastics, as outlined in Bylaw 4.2(c); the preceding two years is specified as the recent timespan that independent directors may not be affiliated with USA Gymnastics.

The USOC's directives from January did not outline any exclusionary criteria besides the members of the board forced to resign in January not being eligible to serve on the interim board or replacement board, with the exception of the recently elected athlete representatives, who had been seated in January 2018 and were eligible for re-election.

It remains unclear why White's position as a floor manager would be considered particularly visible. Gymnastics competition floor managers oversee all floor personnel such as volunteers and score runners, the music coordinator and the announcer. Typical duties of a floor manager are ensuring that volunteers perform their assigned tasks, that media and photographers remain in designated areas, and that the audience does not interfere with the competition (such as requesting autographs or using flash photography). USA Gymnastics' taking exception to White is all the more puzzling given that other directors on the interim board have had more high-profile and more recent association with USA Gymnastics events for which they apparently received compensation, such as serving as a competition judge or speaking at the USAG National Congress.

If USA Gymnastics removed White without his voluntary and written resignation, the organization would appear to be in violation of its own bylaws regarding selection of the board, as well as the USOC's letter, which instructed the federation, "An interim board must be seated, consistent with USAG's current bylaws." The current bylaws were passed in December.

Headquartered in Indianapolis, USA Gymnastics is a non-profit organization, known as a 501(3)c, registered in the State of Indiana. According to Indiana law, specifically Indiana Code Title 23 § 17 - 12:7-10, directors of non-profit organisations may only resign in writing to the entire board of directors, the presiding officer of the board of directors, or the president/secretary of the corporation. There does not appear to be any provision for removing duly elected directors from the board prior to the board being seated in either USA Gymnastics bylaws or Indiana law.

Interim USA Gymnastics Board of Directors
Karen GolzChairwoman of the board
Athlete directors
Ivana HongWomen's artistic gymnastics
Dylan MaurerAcrobatic gymnastics
Ava GehringerRhythmic gymnastics
Steven LegendreMen's artistic gymnastics
TBDTrampoline and tumbling
Membership directors
Kittia CarpenterWomen's artistic gymnastics
Randy JepsonMen's artistic gymnastics
Stefanie KorepinRhythmic gymnastics
Claudia KretschmerWomen's gymnastics
Scott LineberryTrampoline and tumbling
Bob MeierSports acrobatics
Justin SpringMen's artistic gymnastics
Advisory Council directors
Cindy BickmanSpecial Olympics
Bobbie CesarekNational Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches (Women)
Evelyn ChandlerNational Association of Women's Gymnastics Judges
Independent directors
Lois Elizabeth BinghamGeneral counsel for global automotive parts supplier Yazaki North America; board member for Just the Beginning Foundation; previously served on the American Bar Association's Commission on Women Bias Interrupters Working Group and on the board of National Tots and Teens, Inc.
James Crawford-Jakubiak Pediatrician and medical director for the Center for Child Protection; member of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children; member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and its section on Child Abuse and Neglect
Karen Golz(Chair) Recently retired as a global vice chair of Ernst & Young; 40 years with the company in positions that involved ethics and independence, risk management, compliance, financial reporting and controls, and general management
Deborah Slaner LarkinChief advocacy officer (2017) and CEO (2014-16) for the Women's Sports Foundation; past executive director of the U.S. Tennis Association's Foundation
David RuddFormer Chicago Tribune journalist who runs a communications and public relations firm in Chicago; board member for Prevent Child Abuse America; treasurer for the Black Public Relations Society
Julie SpringwaterAdjunct professor at Boston University's School of Social Work; chair of governance for the Child Welfare League of America

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