Over the weekend and on Monday, there was a lot of talk about USATF’s new CEO, or rather the lack thereof.
USATF finally settled with deposed CEO Doug Logan in his suit over the firing, apparently to the tune of over $1 million.
I mentioned a rumor aired by TFN’s Garry Hill, which is that any decision on a new CEO will be postponed until after next year’s Olympic Trials.
I then speculated that the reason for this could be to create a power vacuum, in which someone like USATF President Stephanie Hightower could be the de facto CEO while not facing the firestorm of criticism that would come with a board member acting as actual CEO.
The Oregonian’s Ken Goe ran my speculation on his blog, and then Chicago Tribune Olympic writer Phil Hersh called up Steve Miller, the head of the CEO search committee, and was told “It is very possible she [Hightower] could become the CEO”. The freak-out commenced all over the internet, because the many people who have a negative opinion of Hightower feel it strongly and are vocal.
One seemingly minor detail of Hill’s rumor, which started all of this, is the timing. If it were just to open the door for Hightower, then there would be no specific time frame. It would simply be open-ended. And it’s not after the Olympics—the largest event on USATF’s calendar in any given quadrennium—but after the Olympic Trials.
It didn’t mean much to me at first. And maybe it was misheard by Hill (although I doubt it.) It might be that if Hightower’s power grab could result in the USOC trying to decertify USATF as track and field’s national governing body, that would be the most advantageous time to fight it, when the Olympic team selection has been made and the USOC has its hands full with other things.
Then another seemingly minor detail in Hersh’s story made me think again.
The selection committee was ready to pick University Oregon coach Vin Lananna — the seemingly perfect choice — until Lananna decided to stay at Oregon.
“Vin was interviewed, and we thought he might have been it, but he changed his mind,” Miller said.
I was not aware of that. I am aware that Ken Goe has repeatedly run stories in which Lananna denies leaving Oregon to become USATF CEO. Hey, deny something once, and I’ll take it at face value. But when you deny it a bunch of times, I’m going to start wondering.
And then Hill, the guy whose offhand comment started all of this, answered my rhetorical question of “Why would they delay such a decision?” with a non-rhetorical answer:
Because there’s a “perfect” candidate who won’t be available until next year?
Note that Lananna heads up the group putting on the Trials.
Is Vin Lananna as USATF CEO too good to be true? Probably. There is always hope, though.
Now, if you’re looking for a truly perfect candidate, he’ll be available in a similar time frame. The House of Run guys suggested yours truly as the next USATF CEO.
It’s important to realize that I’m a complete idiot and don’t know anything. That, however, has rarely been a barrier to people getting to positions of power and importance. And from my perspective, I could do worse than a $400,000+ a year salary with a $1 million golden parachute once I’ve been deemed expendable.
So over the next few days I’ll give you, the track and field public, my presentation as to what I would like to do as USATF CEO and why.