Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A toxic mess--Doug Logan vs USA Track & Field board gets uglier...

I don't know about you, but I get the sinking feeling that Doug Logan's (left/photo courtesy USA Track & Field) termination as CEO of USA Track & Field and the subsequent public sniping is going to get uglier before it gets any better.

First comes this shot thrown by Logan, in comments made to the New York Times, in which he calls the USATF board of directors as, "…15 people who want to be taken seriously who, for all practical purposes, are 15 bodies in funny suits stumbling out of a little car,” he said. “It’s people who have earned their credentials to sit on a board because they’ve had a whistle around their neck at regional youth meets.”

Then, Logan took another shot in an interview on runningtimes.com in which he describes his meeting with former world triple jump record holder Willie Banks at the Indianapolis Westin where Banks told Logan he was fired.

"I think there is no question the board felt it wanted to be more “hands on” despite the governance guidelines of the USOC," Logan said. "And, I had few fans among the sport’s “old guard” whose power was eroding under the reforms we instituted. The issue, candidly, was not the “performance” but the “performer.” It has gotten very personal. Both ways."

Kind of harsh to describe folks like 2004 Olympic marathon bronze medalist Deena Kastor and three-time US Olympian Aretha Thurmond, both of whom are current members of the USATF Board as people "in funny suits stumbling out of a little car" when they've put themselves on the line in numerous Olympics and world championships in the USA uniform.

One of Logan's harshest critics, former Stanford University and 1984 US Olympic team coach Brooks Johnson (a former member of the USATF board of directors) fired back with a salvo of his own on his blog, spikesandflats.com.

Johnson cited that upon his hiring, Logan sidestepped USATF bylaws in his formation of the audit panel assessing the effectiveness of the HIgh Performance Panel (of which Johnson headed) and the 2008 US Olympic team's performance in Beijing by appointing Carl Lewis and Benita Fitzgerald-Mosley as athlete reps to the panel, even though they did not meet the definition of international athlete (Lewis last represented the USA in 1996; the definition of international athlete is 10 years).

Johnson also said in his blog that Logan's biggest downfall is that, "he never really respected athletes. By not knowing that athletes were a requirement and prerequisite, and a welcomed addition to any decision-making process, he chose to ignore and disrepect them."

He further states that Logan is "…too arrogant and self-absorbed to really see the innate and inherent gross contradictions in what he says and what he professes to be. This is what I intuitively knew back in 2008 and was the underlying reason I was confident Logan could/would not last the term."

No matter whose side you're on (and this blog is not taking sides), it looks bad for everyone. On the one hand, you have a fired head who is looking to make sure he gets every penny of his contract and is making himself to be a loose cannon, if you take his comments to the media at face value, and on the other hand, there is the perception (real or imagined) that the board of directors of USA Track & Field is dysfunctional.

As a side note, New York Road Runners CEO and NYC Marathon director Mary Wittenberg stated in an interview with Joe Battaglia of universalsports.com that "If I didn't have what I think is the greatest job in running, or at least one of them, I would be extremely interested (in the USATF CEO position)."

It's a toxic mess…guess I'm calling the Ghostbusters.

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