U.S. Olympic Committee President Marty Mankamyer announced her resignation last night, saying in a statement there "appeared to be no possibility for peace" within the organization "unless I stepped aside."
Mankamyer, 69, submitted the resignation just days before a USOC executive committee meeting in Chicago in which the organization's five vice presidents were expected to seek a no-confidence vote in her leadership.
Her decision came a week after a stormy hearing in front of the Senate Commerce Committee in which she and CEO Lloyd Ward were pilloried for their failure to get along. She was elected to office last August after serving as interim president last summer.
"This is . . . a time when the USOC needs to refocus on its priorities and avoid public displays of disagreement," she said in the statement. "Because there appeared to be no possibility for peace unless I stepped aside, and with the thought that my action could make a positive difference for an organization to which I have devoted almost twenty years, I have decided to resign."
USOC vice president-secretariat William Martin, the athletic director at the University of Michigan, will take over as interim president as dictated by USOC bylaws. The executive committee may nominate another candidate for president at this weekend's meeting in Chicago. Any nominee would have to be approved by the organization's 123-member board of directors.
Mankamyer is the second USOC president to resign in the past eight months. Her predecessor, Sandy Baldwin, stepped down last spring after it was revealed that she had falsified her academic credentials on a USOC biography.
Mankamyer, the third USOC president since 2000, will continue to sit on the USOC's board of directors as an organization past president.
Mankamyer's resignation brings partial closure to what has been a tumultuous month for the organization and her. Since details of an internal ethics investigation of Ward emerged in late December, Mankamyer has been under pressure from members of the organization to resign.
Mankamyer, accused by the USOC officers of attempting to manipulate the ethics process to undermine Ward, was first asked to resign on Jan. 12 by the five vice presidents and two high-ranking officers. She agreed, but later changed her mind. She was then asked to resign publicly by all seven officers on Jan. 21. She publicly declined.
At last week's Senate hearing, Ward publicly stated that both he and Mankamyer should be willing to step down if asked to do so by the USOC's executive committee or board of directors. After the hearing, Mankamyer said the organization did not need leadership change.
Ward and Mankamyer, who have sparred over various issues including the management of the USOC's international affairs, were criticized as being participants in an "Olympic-sized food fight" by Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) during last week's Senate hearings, but the lawmakers stopped short of asking either official to step down.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the chair of the committee, said he would convene a second hearing to discuss the restructuring of the USOC, which is likely to include an update of the 1978 Amateur Sports Act, the legislation authored by Stevens that created the USOC.
Mankamyer chose to submit her resignation the day the Denver Post reported possible conflict-of-interest allegations regarding her work as a real estate broker for USOC employees. The newspaper reported that a Colorado Springs real estate agent who handled the sale of a building lot and a custom-built home to Ward in 2001 claimed that Mankamyer, then a USOC vice president, pressured her to pay a referral fee. Mankamyer is a licensed real estate broker.
In her statement, Mankamyer said she decided to resign partly because of the extraordinary amount of work the coming months would entail.
"I have decided to resign after assessing the time, work and energy that will be required by the office of the President during the next several months," she said.
There is slightly less than two years remaining in Mankamyer's term. USOC vice president Paul George, who ran unsuccessfully against Mankamyer last summer, is a possible candidate to replace her.