One day after USA Gymnastics named Edward Nyman their first full-time director of sports medicine and science, he is out of the job.
The organization, struggling to gets its bearings after the Larry Nassar scandal, cited an unspecified conflict of interest Tuesday as the reason for seeking a different director so quickly. Nynan is a former gymnast and coach who as an assistant with the women’s program at the University of Pittsburgh and has a doctorate in biomechanics.
However, a lawyer for some 200 gymnasts who said they were survivors of Nassar’s abuse claimed that gymnasts were not consulted and criticized the decision to hire a man. “Competing elite gymnasts are stakeholders. A number of them were abused by Larry Nassar. None of them were consulted about this pick. None of my clients abused by Nassar want anything to do with male physicians,” John Manly tweeted when the hiring was announced Monday.
Simone Biles, the four-time world champion who said she was abused by Nassar, tweeted her disbelief at Nyman’s hiring on Monday with three simple words: “I’m sorry.... what”.
USA Gymnastics said Tuesday that the decision to change directors so abruptly was unrelated to social media backlash.
“To provide clarity, the decision to terminate Dr. Nyman’s employment was not based on any comments made on social media platforms or anywhere else,” it said in a statement. “In accordance with our employment policies, we cannot comment further on this personnel matter.”
With Nassar serving a 60-year prison sentence, USA Gymnastics has struggled to move beyond the scandal. It filed for bankruptcy last December and Monday was the deadline for Nassar survivors and others to file claims against it.
A former NBA executive, Li Li Leung, the organization’s fourth president and CEO in the past two years, was appointed in February and the former gymnast got off on the wrong foot with athletes during a “Today” show interview in which she said that Nassar, the USA Gymnastics and Michigan State physician, had not abused her because her coach was with her when Nassar examined her.
Survivors, many of whom were abused or molested despite the presence of a parent or coach, called her comments insensitive and she tweeted an apology. “I should have clarified that my experience was completely different from theirs and it is wrong to suggest I could have a solution based on my experience alone. I cannot know all necessary steps to take until I hear their stories, and hope they will have a dialogue with us regarding athlete safety and well-being going forward.”
Now, USA Gymnastics is searching for a new hire. There has been no comment from Nyman, whom Leung had described as “uniquely qualified” when he was hired. She had touted the hire as “important because it is critical for our becoming more athlete-centric.” The director’s job includes overseeing and managing the medical staff — physicians, athletic trainers and physical therapists — and does not involve directly treating male or female athletes.
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