USOC tries to bind wounds, but quick fix seen unlikely

Olympics

February 06, 2003|By Philip Hersh | Philip Hersh,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CHICAGO - What's ahead for the U.S. Olympic Committee, with president Marty Mankamyer having finally surrendered Tuesday night to the intense pressure for her resignation?

Will the election to replace her include more of the nasty infighting among USOC volunteers that has gone on for years, but became a public airing of dirty laundry in the past month that attracted the attention of Congress?

Or will the interim president, University of Michigan athletic director Bill Martin, change his mind about how long he will fill in, and agree to run as a compromise candidate. That scenario would have him serve the final 22 months of Mankamyer's term.

And what of CEO Lloyd Ward, found in "technical violation" of the USOC's code of ethics for asking a USOC staffer to help his brother's company try to gain an Olympic-related contract? Speaking on condition of anonymity, USOC executive committee members told the Chicago Tribune, "No one is happy with Lloyd in this thing."

Those are some of the questions facing the 21-member executive committee as it meets in Chicago this weekend, when the big issue was to have been initiating the formal process to oust Mankamyer on the grounds she tried to undermine Ward.

"This is the perfect storm," said former USOC vice president Michael Lenard, a Los Angeles attorney.

Having Martin as president beyond a couple of months until someone else is elected could have a calming effect. Before the term ends at the end of 2004, the reorganization of the USOC governance structure promised by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) should be complete, and the USOC's landscape may be changed to the point people currently in leadership positions will be gone.

McCain held a hearing on the USOC chaos last week and plans another soon.

"There are two sides to this coin," Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), a 1964 Olympian, said yesterday. "One side is Marty and the other side is Lloyd Ward. Just because she is out of sight doesn't mean he is out of sight.

"I think she did the right thing by resigning, but the turmoil is probably going to continue because she had a lot of supporters who must be livid she was forced to resign."

Asked if Ward also should resign, Campbell said, "It would depend on what is said and done at the next hearing."

Philip Hersh is a reporter for The Chicago Tribune.

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