Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley and 1958 Heisman Trophy winner Pete Dawkins may not know it yet, but their names are among several that search firms have been bandying about as the United States Olympic Committee begins looking for its next leader.
"I'm not saying any of these people have been talked to, but that gives you an idea of where they're starting from," USOC board member Mike McManus said.
A sweeping structural reorganization plan that was approved by the USOC board today calls for the creation of a chief executive officer post, which will be the organization's top paid position. The reorganization was the main order of business on a day that also included the selection of San Antonio as the U.S. bid city for the 2007 Pan American Games. The Texas city won out over Raleigh-Durham, N.C.
Board members also approved the USOC's new anti-doping plan, which calls for a newly created outside agency to take over drug policy issues. The agency's responsibilities would include the random testing of NHL and NBA athletes who want to compete in the Olympics, although officials acknowledged that fulfilling that goal could involve difficult negotiations.
Donald Fehr, the executive director of the major league baseball players' association, is a USOC board member. He said that since MLB players are not yet eligible for the Olympics, although minor leaguers are, he had "no opinion on Olympic testing procedures."
"It's just speculation at this point, but the leagues have their own protocol for drug testing and they like it that way," he said.
The anti-doping plan and the new management structure, which was designed by the consulting firm McKinsey and Co., were passed unanimously. The reorganization calls for the president's position, currently held by Bill Hybl, to be changed to chairman of the board. The executive director's position, currently held by Dick Schultz, will become the CEO job, which will carry with it more control and authority than the executive director has now.
Hybl, who serves as a volunteer, will announce Sunday whether he will seek the chairman of the board position; Schultz, who is paid, has already said he will not seek the new CEO job. That leaves the USOC looking for a new leader.
"The national governing bodies and athletes think it should be someone who comes out of sports," said McManus, who is working with the search firm that has been hired to find the new CEO. "I think it should be a manager--it also has to be a change artist who can deal with the transition.
"A lot of names pop up of people who have been successful in the private sector, but when they run a large company, they consider it their own company. . . . Here they have to be a diplomat. . . . It's going to be difficult for someone to come in here, even with the profile that we've put in place, and be successful."
Hybl said the need for a reorganization became obvious as the USOC has grown from a $5 million operation with 25 employees in 1977 to its current status as a $125 million organization made up of about 550 people. The plan adopted today calls for the CEO to have the powers found in a typical corporate environment; it also gives the executive committee powers that had previously been reserved for the full board of directors.
Constitutional changes to cement the reorganization are scheduled to be voted on at the beginning of February, which is when McManus would like to have identified a leading candidate for the CEO job.
"The USOC is at a juncture where it needs to effect some significant changes," said McKinsey's Claudio Aspesi, who helped draft the plan. "Organizations that don't change become obsolete. The world changes around you, and if you don't do anything, things happen in a way that is usually not pretty."