The Carter administration is opposed to a proposed $30 million, one-time federal grant to assist in the reorganization and development of the U.S. Olympic movement, a House Judiciary subcommittee was told yesterday.
C. Carson Conrad, executive director of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, said the White House believes the $12 million earmarked for permanent training centers and a sports medicine program should be financed by the private sector.
The administration is less opposed to the remaining $18 million being used to finance the development and operation of programs approved by the U.S. Olympic Committee, Conrad said.
The $30 million appropriation was recommended by the President's Commission on Olympic Sports, which undertook and exhaustive two-year study of the U.S. Olympic movement. The PCOS concluded that the sum was the "bottom line" needed to achieve reforms the U.S. amateur sports community considered long overdue.
It is the hope of that community that the bill will end the jurisdictional disputes between the National Collegiate Amateur Athletic Union over "rights" to athletes.
After lengthy hearings and meetings on the bill, and some very delicately orchestrated. Compromises, the nations's major sports organizations and athletes have agreed to support - or at least not oppose - the bill.
The AAU, however, reversed itself yesterday and called for the inclusion of an athletes' bill of rights in the legislation. Through a compromise with the athletes aimed at bringing the NCAA back into the USOC, the bill of rights was deleted from the legislation and incorporated in the USOC constitution.
The bill passed the Senate unanimously and most of the recommended changes have been incorporated voluntarily by the USOC in its constitution.
Testifying before the subcommittee on administrative law and government relations, Conrad said the administration had serious concerns about setting "a very unfortunate precedent" by financing continuing USOC programs, such as the training centers, an information retrieval system and sports medicine programs.
However, Conrad added, a one-time $18 million commitment in federal aid for the restructuring of amateur sports would not be viewed as a precedent.
A panel of Olympic athletes - swimmer John Naber, speed skater Dianne Holum and hurdler Willie Davenport - urged the House to approve the bill and keep the $30 million intact.
David C. Maggard, chairman of the NCAA's international relations committee, said the NCAA is historically opposed to federal aid to amateur athletics. But if there is an appropriation, Maggard said, it should be used to provide programs and facilities for a broad base of participants.
Joel Ferrell, president of the Amateur Athletic Association, said the AAU favors the $30 million.
The AAU's call for enactment of an athletes' bill of rights in the legislation was widely regarded as an attempt to prompt the NCAA to oppose the bill and, possibly, kill it. Before yesterday, the AAU had not objected to the carefully crafted compromise.
Later in the hearing, Jeff Darman, president of the Road Runners Club of America, criticized the AAU's stand. He claimed the AAU repeatedly violates athletes' rights, citing specifically the case of a Pittsburgh runner who has been suspended by the AAU without the AAU's required due process hearing.
Ferrell said the AAU will not oppose the bill if there is no athletes' rights section in it, but will oppose the legislation unless there is a clarification of the definition of international competition.