The news hit the sport like a ton of bricks: On January 9, Craig Masback, CEO of USATF announced his resignation to the board of directors. Masback, after a decade of stewarding the federation and sport into the modern era, had accepted a position at Nike, the number one sponsor of the federation.
The job of CEO of a large, and constantly moving volunteer organization such as USA Track & Field has to be both exhilerating and exhausting. Masback’s tenure has put USATF into its most vibrant status in decades: the coffers are healthy, the US team is quite strong and track and field is on the rebound.
But all of this makes the search for the replacement of Mr. Masback of even greater importance: Has there been any progress?
The resignation of Craig Masback could not have come at a more challenging time. While the sport is off a great 2007, and sponsorship is solid, 2008 is a critical year in USATF’s history. Beijing could prove to be one of the greatest years ever for our US Olympic track team, and the USOC’s very obvious threat at the convention-either USATF downsizes its board of the USOC will make USATF do it–could come to pass over the next eighteen months. Tough and able leadership will be needed-and the USATF board seems to know that.
Sources tell runblogrun.com that a search firm has been hired and that the firm has been interviewing staff in Indy to determine what are some of the needs of the new leader. The swiftness of the hire and the savvy move of the new search firm of interviewing Indy staff should give some observers pause to consider the process starting on the right foot.
A search firm will interview staff, board and key players in the sport to determine what needs the federation has and what talents the potential candidates need.
With the Olympic Trials this year and the Olympics, having a new CEO in place before Eugene would be of the highest priority. But the key is what they are looking for. Do they want someone around for ten years, or do they want someone to come in, clean house, and then find a statesman to run the newly organized federation? That will be one of the many things the media will be watching for.
The changing needs of USATF, and its changing responsibilities will be a challenge for any new leader. The continued protests of the Youth committee on how USATF fails to appreciate the importance of their constituency, the concerns from the master’s board on USATF about how they are treated are just a few of the examples of constant issues dealth with by the home office. This is not to say that some of each board’s requests are not legitimate, it is just indicative of an organization that has hundreds of moving parts.
And the USOC? Are they just rattling the swords? They may not be just rattling swords, but they do need to be careful. As the one federation responsible for 25 of the Olympic medals in 2004 and responsible for over 600 Olympic medals since 1896!
USATF athletes will be making Olympic history this year, once again. USATF needs the proper leadership in order that our sport gets the deserved praise and the sponsor support it deserves building to 2012.
We will all watch the process with much anticipation.
For more on the sport, click http://www.usatf.org
Leave a Reply