MINNEAPOLIS — On the eve of its expected endorsement of a plan to give direct cash payments to athletes, the U.S. Olympic Committee says it isn't going to make nearly as much money as it thought it would on the sale of commemorative coins that will finance those payments to prospective Olympians.
USOC President Robert Helmick said Friday that estimates of the proceeds from the sale of the 1988 Olympic coins have been cut in half, dropping from around $50 million to $25 million.
Still, he said, none of the money that had been earmarked for athletes training for the 1992 Olympics will be cut.
"We are trying to keep a very conservative estimate," Helmick said. "The figure of $25 million is what we are relying on now. No matter what, we plan to maintain the athlete subsistence program. That program will not be jeopardized."
In its unprecedented plan to pay athletes, the USOC announced in July it would give $25 million to athletes from the money earned from the sale of the coins. Based on the $50 million sales projection, another $20 million was to go toward facility development and $5 million toward community enhancement programs.
But the coins did not sell as well as expected during the Olympics, and with sales still lagging, the USOC is going to do "everything possible to stimulate" buying, said executive director Baaron Pittenger, including using members of the Olympic team to promote the coins for the holidays.
In the meantime, it appears money proposed for facilities and community programs will not be available, although the USOC had not specifically committed that money as it had the money for the athletes.
"We had no specific target for the money beyond the fixed amount of $25 million for the athletes," Helmick said.