A plan by the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee to create a "friendship fund" of $3.5 million to $5.5 million to support amateur sports programs in Third World countries was criticized today by U.S. Olympic Committee officials, who objected to the proposed administration of the program.
William Simon, president of the USOC, which controls America's amateur sports, charged the LAOOC with "ad hoc-ing" funds from the 1984 Olympic Games surplus, adding, "I object to the process, not to the program" of foreign aid. A USOC committee will be named to study the proposal, which the LAOOC hoped to administer in conjunction with the USOC.
The question of how to proceed in distributing the Olympic largesse arose during a meeting of the USOC executive board and administration committees, which were told that the L.A. Games' surplus will be significantly greater than the $150 million first anticipated.
Harry Usher, vice president of the LAOOC, declined to estimate what the final surplus would be, but the figure could reach almost $200 million.
The USOC, which had expected to receive $75 million, is now expected to receive $90 million from the surplus. Sixty million dollars would be given to a newly created U.S. Olypmic Foundation and the remaining $30 million will be distributed among the 38 national governing bodies of amateur sports in the U.S.
In another development, George D. Miller, a 54-year-old, recently retired U.S. Air Force general, was recommended by a USOC panel to succeed F. Don Miller as executive director. George Miller, no relation to Don Miller, is expected to take over following a USOC delegates' meeting Feb. 8 in Colorado Springs.
The LAOOC's Usher urged USOC officials to immediately accept the "friendship fund" idea "to continue the spirit of brotherhood, friendship and peace. We want to say thanks to the 55 to 60 countries who came to our Olympics and made them what they are. This will speak strongly to the world." Usher added, "In no way does it cut into the expectations that each of you have developed."
Simon, granting that "nobody ever expected a surplus like this . . . a windfall," also said "this came upon us very quickly, and we don't like -- I don't like -- the USOC put into a position that we look unsympathetic to Third World countries . . . We find after all these years, we have some money in the bank for the first time."
Simon also said he wanted to proceed in an orderly fashion and "with financial responsibility . . . I don't like ad hoc-ing in finance."
Along with the $60 million to be given to the U.S. Olympic Foundation will be another $26 million from the sale of Olympic commemorative coins.
"Then, after Jan. 1, 1986, when the fund has garnered earnings," said Don Miller, "we will begin an annual distribution of these Olympic Foundation monies to the membership of the USOC . . . in the form of grants for the enhancement, development and promotion of amateur sports. It will go the athletes and their futures."
Don Miller pointed out that the Olympic Foundation is separate from the USOC's general operating budget, which was $88.7 million from 1980 through 1984, and which he expects will be roughly $115 million in the next four years. Miller added that the USOC expects to rely on public and corporate funds or contributions for those general operating budget needs.
Simon praised George Miller, who most recently served as vice commander-in- chief of the Strategic Air Command at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. "He sold me and you are talking to a businessman," said Simon.
George Miller said he will enthusiastically undertake fund-raising responsibilities, helping to keep high U.S interest in the Olympics and amateur athletics.
"I'm selling something good for our country, the individual and you, Mr. corporate executive," he said.
George Miller was noncommittal on the LAOOC's "friendship fund" proposal. He appeared at the meeting only briefly, when he was introduced, but he did say, "My impression is that there is a certain justification for distribution of funds among Third World countries."