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OLYMPICS USOC members praise proposed sweeping changes



Published: Thu, April 17, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Recommendations included cutting 114 of the 123 spots on the board.

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- U.S. Olympic Committee members were quick to commend an in-house task force for proposing the most sweeping changes in the history of the organization. A day later, they started jockeying for position.

Recommendations included cutting 114 of the 123 spots on the board of directors and eliminating the 21-member executive committee. Most factions within the organization endorsed the changes, but they didn't exactly volunteer to have their spot taken away, either.

"I think you've been pushed and shoved and scared by the politicians in Washington," board member George Killian said Sunday. "No matter how hard you've worked, you really haven't thought it out. I'm convinced you haven't satisfied anybody at all. You've left out too many people."

The task force was created in February after conflict-of-interest charges against chief executive Lloyd Ward led to a whirlwind of accusations and resignations drew the ire of Congress.

The group's proposal, which will be adjusted after a Senate commission makes its recommendations in June, would drastically change the governance and operational structure of the USOC. The board unanimously passed a motion Sunday in support of the initial restructuring proposal.

"I believe we made history today," USOC vice president Frank Marshall said. "We proved we are capable of changing ourselves and not just a bunch of nincompoops."

Challenge awaits

But the hardest part might still lie ahead.

The scandal-ridden organization is in its latest mess in part because volunteers and the paid staff couldn't get along. It didn't take long for them to start up again.

The task force held an open forum on Sunday to answer questions, but much of the time was filled with members fighting for position in the new leadership.

It's exactly the response Colorado Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell expected from a group known for its finger-pointing and political maneuvering.

"I think they've moved in the right direction, but they still have to get it passed," said Campbell, part of a Senate committee investigating the USOC. "That might not be easy."

Board member Anita DeFrantz called for the task force to rethink its position of allowing just one of the four IOC members on the new board.

"We had an IOC member before there was a USOC. The structure is there for a purpose," said DeFrantz, the senior IOC member from the United States. "It is not to be considered frivolous or unimportant for the USOC to be the same as every other national Olympic committee in the world. Nor, I suggest, is it debatable."

Representatives from the Olympic Alumni Association, USA Deaf Sports Federation, military organizations and community-based sports programs followed DeFrantz, each arguing their case to have more of a voice in the new structure.




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