OKLAHOMA CITY — Dr. Harvey Schiller, Southeastern Conference commissioner, was elected executive director of the United States Olympic Committee Saturday without dissent by an 85-member executive board.
Schiller, 48, will assume the $150,000-a-year position on Jan. 1. His contract expires in February 1989, but USOC President Robert Helmick said he is virtually certain it will be extended through 1992.
"We feel very fortunate that someone with Harvey Schiller's talent and reputation is available to step in here immediately," Helmick said on the opening day of the USOC's executive board meeting.
"Instead of filling the job for 1 1/2 years, we've done it for 6 1/2 or 8 or 12 or even 16 years. We have an opportunity for continuity."
Schiller was a finalist for the position in 1985, when Gen. George Miller was hired. Miller resigned Aug. 23 under pressure from the executive board.
According to USOC sources, one executive board member was prepared to present a motion in Saturday's meeting to return Miller to the position.
But there was so little support for the motion that the member decided to remain quiet, the sources said. After Helmick presented Schiller as the administrative committee's lone nominee, there was no discussion. He was elected by a voice vote.
"All of the discussions took place in private before the meeting," executive board member Harold Zimman said. "With so little time before the two Olympic Games next year, everyone decided it was best to present a unified front. It was obvious Harvey had enough support to win."
Zimman said there also was support for Baaron Pittenger, the assistant executive director for six years who has served as acting executive director since Miller resigned.
Pittenger, 62, was elected executive director for the remainder of the year and has expressed interest in returning to his position as the assistant after Schiller assumes command.
"I'm not disappointed," said Pittenger, who plans to retire after 1992. "I could only offer short-term continuity."
Schiller's election is considered another victory for the national governing bodies, which are responsible for the operation of each sport in the Olympic movement.
While much of the power was centralized at USOC headquarters in Colorado Springs through 1984, Helmick, president of swimming 's international swimming federation and a former water polo player, has sought to shift control to the NGBs since he was elected president in 1985. That was the source of strife between Helmick and Miller, finally leading to the executive director's resignation.
As a member of the USA Amateur Boxing Federation's board of directors, Schiller was a popular choice with the national governing bodies.
"The role of the executive director is clearly defined," Schiller said. "The president is the chief executive officer. The executive board determines the positions. The executive director is the chief administrative officer. I don't see doing anything that is contrary to that."
Schiller, a retired Air Force colonel who flew 15 combat missions in Vietnam, will return to Colorado Springs, where he was the chairman of the Air Force Academy's chemistry department for seven years before accepting the position with the SEC in September, 1986.
His administrative experience is varied. He was director of competition at the Sports Arena during the 1984 Summer Olympics and also was responsible for corporate sponsorships, media advertising and general operations for the Live Aid Concert in Philadelphia, which raised more than $80 million in support of African famine relief.