Tag: USATF

USATF ANNOUNCES FORMER BOARD MEMBER AS NEW CEO

Max Siegel, new USATF CEO

In a move that comes as no surprise, USA Track & Field announced today that its board of directors has selected 47 year-old Indianapolis native Max Siegel, a marketing executive with ties to the sports and music industries – and former USATF board member  – to serve as its new CEO.  USATF has been operating without a full-time CEO since the board dismissed Doug Logan in September 2010 after a rocky two years at the helm.  Chief Operating Officer Mike McNees had been serving as interim CEO.

Mr. Siegel becomes the fourth chief executive in the organization’s history following Ollan Cassell (1980-1996), Craig Masback (1997-2008), and Doug Logan (2008-2010). He will assume his duties on May 1st under a two-year contract reportedly valued at $500,000 per year with performance bonuses.

Since USATF announced last month that it intended to hire a new CEO before the June track & field trials in Eugene, Oregon – thus ending a protracted 16-month interregnum – many long-time observers of the sport surmised the selection would come from within the USATF family. And since Mr. Siegel had been a USATF board member (2009-2011) whose firm was hired last October to oversee the USATF marketing effort going into the summer Olympics, he was widely expected to be named to the CEO position. (more…)

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USATF CEO: BIG IDEAS AND WIDE HORIZONS

Tracy 1970s

     Tracy Sundlun and I go way back, to the days of big hair, big ideas, and wide horizons ahead that many envisioned for the sport of running in the 1970s.  Those were hard racing, hard partying times when, as one friend put it, ‘we knew the first 100 finishers of the Boston and New York City Marathons by their first names.’  I think Tracy still does.

When we first met, Tracy had already been a coach at his alma mater, USC, and at the University of Colorado.  But at the time he was back on the east coast working with the Warren Street A.C. in New York, and about to take the reins of the MAC, the Metropolitan Athletics Congress, largest of 56 regional associations in The Athletics Congress (now USATF) web.  There, among other things, he created the New York vs. Boston Indoor Meet.  I was on the Boston end of that binary system, host of the Runner’s Digest radio show and running columnist for the Boston Herald.

The years have gone by, and Tracy and I both moved independently west where we remain closely tied to the sport, me as reporter/broadcaster at-large, him as Senior Vice President of Competitor Group, Inc.(nee Elite Racing) which stages the Rock `n` Roll series of marathons and half-marathons.  But now that USATF has announced that it is once again searching in earnest for a new CEO, Tracy has decided to throw his hat into that ring, hoping to land the job, he says, “I have been training for all my life.“ (more…)

SAME AS IT EVER WAS

     As we approach this weekend’s USATF Indoor Track & Field Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico, once again we find the advance stories focusing as much on the politics of the sport as on the competition itself.  The wedge issue currently roiling the sport – as it has since the USATF annual convention in St. Louis last December – is over the number of sponsorship logos athletes can display on their competition singlets, the size of those logos, and at which competitions those regulations will be fully enforced by USATF, the sport’s governing body.

According to stated USATF rules, which follow international IAAF regulations, an athlete can only display two commercial logos or one club logo and one commercial logo.  But as reported today on LetsRun.com, in a nod to athlete demands, USATF has agreed to allow athletes with a club logo to have two commercial logos on display, as well. For their part, athletes want the right to display one club and three commercial logos.

Regardless, while USATF and the athletes go back and forth over number, size, and where the uniform rules will be enforced, the USATF Board’s legal counsel Larry James wrote a memo to the Board stating his concern that any deviation from the stated rules might be seen by Nike – sponsor for the USATF Indoor and Outdoor National Championships  – as reducing the value of its own contract with USATF, and thereby, under the terms of that contract, would allow Nike to pay a lesser amount to USATF for its own visibility.  And since more athlete logos appearing on athletes’ singlets might thus be interpreted as a reduction in value by Nike, USATF is forced to implement its uniform restrictions, irrespective of the gentleman’s agreement they came to in St. Louis with athlete legal counsel David Greifinger to hold off on the implementation at domestic events.

You can read the whole account on LetsRun.com, but the bottom line according to David Greifinger (the former legal counsel to USATF, by the way) is, as currently worded Nike can argue anything reduces the value of its contract. “Taken to its logical extreme, Nike would have veto power over the composition of USATF’s Board and committees, USATF’s Bylaws, Regulations, and Competition Rules, and all matters pertaining to competitions and athletes’ rights.”

That a kerfuffle like this is still taking place 34 years after the institution of USATF as governing body for track & field, road racing, youth running, masters running, trail running, race walking is evidence enough of the limitations of the institution.  However, history, too, may be instructive for the current situation. (more…)

DEAR NICK SYMMONDS,

    I’ve never met you, but I have always been a fan. The excitement generated by your come-from-behind racing has lifted more than one arena to its collective feet, none more so than at the 2008 Olympic Trials 800-meter final in Eugene, Oregon.  Just this week, however, you entered another arena, politics, by creating a Facebook page called I’m tired of USATF and IAAF crippling our sport. And as I’m sure you’ll find out soon enough, this may be an even harder track to succeed on than the Mondo version you’ve zoomed to four national 800-meter titles atop.

You know you’ve struck a nerve when, in just two days, your Symmond’s summons has attracted nearly 5000 on-line friends as you outlined your main bone of contention:  Could someone please explain to me why NASCAR drivers can have literally DOZENS of ads on their competition uniforms, cars, etc and track and field athletes are FORBIDDEN to have ANY corporate logo on their warm-ups or competition uniforms? Track and field athletes are not even allowed to put corporate logos on the arms as temporary tattoos. These asinine rules have been created by our governing bodies USATF and IAAF and are crippling our sport by preventing the flow of dollars into it.”

Nick, there are literally thousands who share your frustration and concern.  And there have been many attempts over the years to lift track and running into the public consciousness. All have failed.  One reason, one you seemed to have overlooked, is that what you refer to as “these asinine rules created by our governing bodies” aren’t crippling THEIR sport, only yours. And that’s the point. (more…)

USATF NATIONALS BEGIN

     Eugene, Oregon – USATF Nationals began today at historic Hayward Field in a dry run for next year’s Olympic Trials. Accordingly, Tracktown USA is packed with the rabid and transfixed fanatics who make up the faithful in this sport, the people who keep the flame alive even as the powers-that-be continue to search for a new CEO as well as an effective marketing and promotional approach on a scale which track both deserves and once experienced.

Skies were thick and temps low throughout the day until the sun broke out and winds fell to a lull for the evening finals.  Ideal conditions prevailed for the women’s and men’s 10,000 meters, and weren’t that bad for the finals in the women’s shot put and discus, men’s triple jump and discus.

Shalane Flanagan dominated the women’s 10,000 meters, dipping under 31:00 for the fourth time in her career.  Kara Goucher rode the pace work of Jen Rhines till moving past in the final stages to grab second place, leading the consistent Ms. Rhines, Desi Davila, and Magda Lewy Boulet under 32:00, which, from stats man extraordinaire Ken Nakamura, is the highest number of American women ever to crack the 32:00 barrier in a single race.  Flanagan, Goucher, and Rhines will reprise their 2008 Olympic 5000-meter teaming to this year’s 10,000-meter World Championships squad in Daegu, South Korea in late August.  (more…)

AYSO SHOWS RUNNING THE ROAD AHEAD

     American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) registration signs have sprouted up all over San Diego County roads like summer mums.  So, as Running USA, Road Runners Club of America, and USATF continue to discuss, develop, and implement kid’s initiatives to draw more children into the running fold, AYSO offers a proven map of success from which to construct the road ahead. (more…)

TOO LATE

“And it’s too late, baby, now it’s too late
Though we really did try to make it,”  –  Carol King, 1971

Really, does it make any difference anymore?  After our nearly 30 years in the wilderness under Ollan Cassell ( he was Executive Director of the AAU 1970–1980, then Executive Director of USA Track and Field 1980–1997), the following ten years of triage under Craig Masback, and the recently completed two-year sideshow of Doug Logan, unless we discover that Dick Ebersol announced his resignation as head of NBC on May 19th in order to take the post as USATF CEO, would anyone outside Indianapolis even lift an ear bud for news of who’s next on the USATF Gong Show stage?

Honest, this sport is so far outside the mainstream of the American sporting consciousness, and USATF has its own head so far twisted up its bureaucratic ass, that to think anyone, even Mr. Ebersol, would be anything but insignificant as leader would be to believe Harold Camping’s five-month margin of error excuse for his May 21st rapture miscall.                   (more…)