COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - United States Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun will be resigning due to ongoing health issues, but the resignation is part of a larger effort by the organization to protect athletes in the wake of many claims of abuse.
The USOC issued a news release Wednesday announcing Blackmun's resignation and new reforms and actions being put into place. Blackmun, 60, is currently undergoing treatment for prostate cancer.
Current board member Susanne Lyons will serve as acting CEO while the USOC searches for a permanent replacement.
“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,” said USOC Chairman Larry Probst.
“Scott Blackmun has done an outstanding job as the CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee and I am sad to learn of his resignation," said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. "I have found Scott to be a principled and ethical leader of the USOC and it has been a pleasure to work with him. The relationship between the City of Colorado Springs and the USOC has never been better and much of the credit for that belongs to Scott."
Blackmun was named CEO in 2010 and pushed for many improvements in the USOC to help protect athletes, including the establishment of the U.S. Center for SafeSport, according to a news release. He also renegotiated revenue-sharing agreements and enhanced the USOC's influence in the Olympic world.
But Blackmun also led the organization while former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar abused hundreds of victims. Two senators had called for Blackmun's resignation because of the Nassar case.
Lyons wrote a statement Wednesday following her appointment to the interim CEO position and expressed her thoughts on the state of the committee. You can read her post HERE.
The USOC said the following reforms will be enacted:
- Providing new funding and resources for support and counseling for gymnasts impacted by Nassar’s crimes and launching a new resource for athletes from other Olympic and Paralympic sports recovering from similar abuse.
- Forming an advisory group to bring together survivors, advocates, child psychologists and other medical professionals to guide the USOC on stronger safeguards against abuse throughout the Olympic community, and effective support for victims. This may lead to additional changes to the USOC policies and methods for addressing cultural issues and conflicts of interest that may exist in sports, hampering prevention of abuse.
- Launching a review of the USOC and NGB governance structure as defined by the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act, including seeking input from safe sport advocacy groups, the NGB Council, the Athletes’ Advisory Council, current athletes and policymakers to consider clarifications and changes to this structure. As the leader of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic community, the USOC must ensure that its governance structure unequivocally provides the ability to oversee and act when necessary to protect athletes.
- Revisiting USOC SafeSport procedures to determine what measures are necessary to ensure allegations of abuse are reported to the U.S. Center for SafeSport, in addition to law enforcement, and that necessary follow-ups occur. This also would enable NGBs and the USOC to be more aware of problems as they arise, spot trends, and know where more oversight and engagement are necessary.
- Effectively doubling USOC’s funding of the Center for SafeSport to enable it to hire more investigators and staff, improve the speedy resolution of cases, enhance ongoing communication for victims and their families, provide age-appropriate training on recognizing and helping to prevent abuse, and offer better and more accessible resources online.
- Ensuring that athletes have a stronger voice within the USOC. In addition to the AAC already in place, the USOC will seek input on its decision making from currently competing athletes and athletes who have competed in the past.
- Working with USAG to address its governance issues, implement a culture change, and act on the results of the independent investigation once it is complete.