Monday, September 13, 2010

Doug Logan terminated as USA Track & Field CEO...

After two years of a very hands-on management style, USA Track & Field CEO Doug Logan (far left with 2010 Team USA women's cross country squad/photo by Mike Scott) was shown the door by the board of directors of the non-profit organization after a meeting in Las Vegas over the weekend.

In a press release issued by USA Track & Field, president Stephanie Hightower said, "We sincerely thank Doug for his efforts and his passionate focus on our sport. After undertaking an evaluation over the course of the past few months, our Board has decided it is in our best interests to engage different leadership to move the sport forward."

"The Board is committed to a thorough, thoughtful CEO search process," Hightower said. "Although our goal is to complete the search process quickly, we will not compromise the quality of the search and candidate evaluation. The Board is fully supportive of the USATF staff, and we know they will do a tremendous job as we enter this new phase for the organization."

Hightower stressed that the USATF Board will continue to vigorously pursue its strategic plan, developed in July 2009 and approved by USATF membership last December. 

"We simply need to accelerate our realization of this vision and plan," she said.

Phil Hersh of the Chicago Tribune, one of the most respected writers on the Olympic sports beat, spoke briefly with Logan, who said, "Discussions related to the terms of my separation are ongoing, and I can't comment further on them at this point.''  

"I have spent 26 months investing my soul in this sport and this federation.  Some remarkable transformation has taken place in that time.  I am extremely proud of what the staff and I have been able to accomplish."

Chief Operating Officer Mike McNees will assume the day-to-day leadership of the organization while the board begins its search for a new CEO. 

The last time the CEO position was vacated, when Craig Masback resigned in January 2008, former USATF president Bill Roe from Bellingham was thrust into the role of acting CEO until July 2008, when Logan was selected.

In any event, the influential Athletes Advisory Committee backed the dismissal of Logan by the USATF board, as AAC chair Jon Drummond said on the web site of the Track & Field Athletes Association (of which he is a board member of and a liaison to TFAA), "The AAC appreciates the actions of Board of Directors for being sensitive to the needs and requirements to and for the athletes.  It is unfortunate that Mr. Doug Logan did not observe our sport and serve the needs of the athletes."

The big question is what's next?  What are the qualities the board of directors want in a chief executive officer?  Now that the federation is on the hook for severance payout to Logan (according to the post by Joe Battaglia on universalsports.com, he cites an Associated Press report stating that Logan is owed $1.8 million if he was fired without cause), how are they going to raise the money to finance the programs they want to undertake in order to meet the goals set going into the London Olympics, and what, if any programs will see a cut in funding to help pay Logan's severance?

More importantly, what individual in the United States is willing to work for this federation, unless they are already tied in closely to the sport and the volunteer-driven membership base, and have the proven ability to raise money in a tight economy?  And if that person is already in place, why was that person not considered by the original professional search firm two years ago?

As they say in television, stay tuned...

NOTE:  Here is a link to a post by Larry Eder approving the move on runblogrun.com, and a post by Alan Abrahamson on 3wiresports.com giving his take on Logan's termination...also, here is an article by Washington Post Olympic writer Amy Shipley in which Logan admits that he made some people in the volunteer-driven organization "uncomfortable", particularly with his brusque management style.


Finally, here is a quote from agent Ray Flynn, posted on letsrun.com: "While Doug Logan was successful in making structural changes within USATF that will likely make it easier with it's inner functioning, he had very little knowledge of our sport. In order to lead well, he would have needed to understand the many different groups and factions that constitute USA Track and Field. He sequentially alienated so many of these groups and it was only a matter of time before he had to go. I hope that our governing body will have learned from it's mistake in coming up with better search criteria for Doug Logan's successor."

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