Olympic panel eyes Schmoke, Shattuck

City's former mayor, ex-bank chief among last 6 for top USOC job

September 28, 2001|By Candus Thomson and Jon Morgan | Candus Thomson and Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

Former Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and former Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown Chairman Mayo Shattuck III are scheduled to be interviewed this weekend for the job of U.S. Olympic Committee chief executive.

A search committee this week narrowed a list of contenders to six, including Schmoke and Shattuck, according to a source at the USOC.

A third Baltimore man, prominent sports agent Ron Shapiro, took his name out of contention this week.

The former mayor, now in private law practice, would not comment on reports.

"I, like tens, maybe hundreds of people, were called for input or counsel on the search process. They said it would remain confidential, and I respect their ground rules," Schmoke said yesterday.

Reached yesterday, Shattuck declined to discuss the USOC or his candidacy. "I have no comment on it," he said.

The leading candidate is Scott Blackmun of Colorado Springs, Colo., who has been acting CEO for nearly a year. He took over running the USOC after Norman Blake, a corporate turnaround specialist, was forced out less than a year into the job. The committee oversees the training and selection of athletes for the country's Olympic teams.

Shattuck, 46, resigned three weeks ago, citing the rigors of negotiating two mega-mergers on behalf of Alex. Brown over the past five years, and frequent travel to the German headquarters of its parent company. He continues as a senior adviser and director of the firm's U.S. bank holding company.

He joined Alex. Brown, Baltimore's oldest investment firm, in 1985 as co-head of its corporate finance division and helped arrange the public offerings of Microsoft, America Online and Sun Microsys- tems. He became president in 1991 and six years later guided the firm's $1.7 billion sale to Bankers Trust Corp. Two years later Bankers Trust was sold to Deutsche Bank.

Schmoke, 51, said he was called within the past eight weeks. He said given the secrecy surrounding the search, he was "a bit surprised, and that's to put it mildly" to see his name publicly linked to it.

A Rhodes scholar and three-term mayor, Schmoke would be the first African-American CEO of this country's Olympic committee. Since stepping down from office in 1999, Schmoke has been a government relations specialist at the law firm Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering. He also is a member of the executive committee of the Chesapeake Region 2012 Coalition, the Baltimore-Washington group bidding to play host to that year's Olympic Summer Games.

Shapiro, 58, who also serves on the coalition's board, had been a contender before withdrawing his name, according to one source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Shapiro is a leading figure in the sports world. His agency, Shapiro, Robinson & Associates Inc., which he founded with Orioles great Brooks Robinson, has represented a number of premier athletes, most notably Cal Ripken Jr.

A former Maryland State Securities commissioner, Shapiro was a founding partner of the Baltimore law firm of Shapiro & Olander. He serves of counsel at its successor firm, Shapiro Sher & Guinot.

Reached for comment yesterday, Shapiro said, "I was honored to have been considered and to have gone as far in the process as I went and I made a personal decision that I did not want to move my life to a new city. My personal and professional life is here."

USOC spokesman Mike Moran said the work of the search committee, led by Donald Fehr, head of the Major League Baseball Players Association, would remain confidential.

After this weekend's round of interviews, the search committee will submit two or three names to the USOC for final consideration. A simple majority of the 23 members is needed.

Whoever takes over the USOC will be responsible for bringing stability to the organization.

Blake, who headed Baltimore-based USF&G for most of the 1990s until its merger with the St. Paul Cos., was hired February 2000 as the Olympic Committee's first CEO. He cut staff, proposed trimming money for sports in which Americans rarely won medals and tied USOC funding for national sports governing bodies to the number of medals won. After numerous complaints, the USOC forced him out of the $500,000-a-year position.

Blackmun has the backing of USOC President Sandy Baldwin and a dozen Olympians, including swimmer Janet Evans and speed skater Bonnie Blair.

Baldwin had hoped to announce a new CEO by Oct. 1, but the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon delayed the process.

Moran said that Baldwin hopes to call a special meeting of the USOC in mid-October, before the committee's regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 26 in Salt Lake City, which will be the site of the Winter Olympics.

Sun staff writer Bill Atkinson contributed to this article.

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