The U.S. Olympic movement is "in dire need of substantial financial assistance" to successfully execute the overhaul of the nation's amateur sports system as agreed upon by the amateur sports community. U.S. Olympic Committee officials told Congress yesterday.
Robert J. Kane and F. Don Miller, USOC president and executive director, respectively, urged that a Senate-passed $30 million, one-time grant to help implement the reforms not be deleted by the House.
Their statements came in response to Wednesday's disclosure that the Carter administration opposes the concept of federal aid to amateur sports programs, although it was willing to give some leeway for federal funds.
Specifically, the administration said it opposes a $12 million provision for continuing USOC programs such as permanent training centers, research and sports medicine programs. Asking that the private sector be tapped instead, the administration argued that federal aid to amateur sports would set an undesirable precedent.
The White House added, however, that the remaining $18 million to finance the USOC's restructing would not be viewed as precedent-setting if Congress decided funds were necessary.
"Right now we need a lift through the transitional period to give us a leg up," Kane told a House Judiciary subcommittee. "We have no intent of coming back to you for more money. This is a one-time, no-strings-attached request."
Both Miller and Kane emphasized, as have other witnesses, that they believe sizable contributions from the private sector will be made as the USOC reorganization continues to take shape.
The USOC already has made organizational changes recommended by the President's Commission on Olympic Sports - changes that strengthen the USOC's role as the central coordinating agency for the nation's amateur sports groups in Olympic and pan American Games competition.
As part of the complex reorganization, the USOC would be able to help, through administrative services and the requested federal aid, the national governing bodies of sports to develop broad-based programs for athletes from the grass roots to the Olympics.
The amateur sports community also anticipates that the reforms will end the feuding among sports groups that has marred the U.S. Olympic movement in the past.
Noting that attempts to reform the U.S. Olympic movement began 30 years ago this week, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who spearheaded the reorganization bill in the Senate, urged that the $30 million be left in the House version.
The grant is needed, Stevens said, "to enable the reorganization of the sports national governing bodies. It is also needed to support the training center. You cannot separate restructuring from the money because that's how the restructuring is going to take place. The (USOC) is prepared to funnel money into each national governing body to facilitate its reorganization."
If the governing bodies "can get on their feet organizationally by being responsive to their members and effective administraively, they will be better able to attract private funding," Stevens said.
The proposed $30 million grant has drawn the support of every major amateur sports organization in the country. Even the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which historically has opposed federal funds for amateur sports, has endorsed the proposed appropriation.
Bob Helmick, president-elect of the Amateur Athletic Union and secretary of the international swimming federation, asked that the House clarify the definition of "international competition" so it reflects the interpretation various sports groups had agreed upon.
What the AAU and the swimming federation want codified is a requirement that the school-college community seek the proper sanctions when participating in international competitions. The school-college community already has agreed to do so.
The definition is the only remaining objection to the bill of any of the sports organizations.