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Leadership Role Sought for Minorities, Women

November 14, 1994|RANDY HARVEY

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Moving toward his self-imposed mandate to press the U.S. Olympic Committee and the sports under its umbrella to include more minorities and women in leadership positions, USOC President LeRoy Walker appointed separate task forces Sunday to address both issues.

According to a recent USA Today survey, 46% of athletes in Olympic sports are minorities and 42% are women, and yet the national governing bodies for those sports have only 10% minority and 26% female representation within their board of directors and trustees. As for the USOC, its 101-member board of directors includes 13 minorities and 19 women.

"Long before the surveys and the comments from the outside, I knew and felt strongly that we needed to tap into as many of these individuals as we could, getting them involved," said Walker, who two years ago became the USOC's first African-American president.

"I've told these (task force members) I don't just want to hear about the problems. I want solutions and ways to implement them."


In an emotional moment during the USOC's board of directors meeting at the Opryland Hotel, the chairman of the Native American Sports Council, Gene Keluche, was in tears as he accepted membership for his group into the USOC as a community-based, multi-sport organization.

"Today is a fulfillment of a prophecy of an ancient foretelling, that one day we would be standing here to be recognized for our own talents and the contributions that we can make to the world," said the NASC's executive director, John EagleDay.

"We cannot be ignored. We cannot be separated. We cannot be denied the opportunity for our young people to soar to the heights of their ambitions. That's what the Olympics represents."


The USOC is operating with a record $409 million budget for the quadrennium that ends with the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. But, without an Olympics in the United States to drive marketing efforts during the following four years, there are concerns that the next budget might have to be cut by $40 million or more.

Walker has suggested that the USOC consider sending less than a full complement of qualified athletes to the Olympics as a money-saving measure. Despite initial resistance from athletes and officials, many say now that they will at least consider it. "It will be a highly charged issue," USOC treasurer Sandra Baldwin said.


Just as Mick Jagger said he would not still be singing "Satisfaction" when he was 50, British ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean had no thoughts of performing to "Bolero" 10 years after their stunning rendition of it won them gold medals during the 1984 Winter Olympics at Sarajevo.

But Torvill and Dean have included that number in their tour that stops next Sunday night at the Forum. Also performing is former U.S. and world champion Jill Trenary, who married Dean last month.


Edwin Moses is not making a comeback. There have been numerous reports to the contrary since the two-time gold medalist in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles said last summer that he would return to competition if he could train without pain.

"There are three key words--train without pain--that everyone seems to be ignoring," he said. "Who can train without pain? Of course, I'm not coming back."


The first half of Bud Greenspan's documentary about the 1994 Winter Olympics, "Lillehammer: 16 Days of Glory," will premier Nov. 27 on the Disney Channel. Even non-subscribers will be able to see the segment, which peaks with the story of speedskater Dan Jansen's emotional triumph in the 1,000 meters.


The most prominent speedskater of the last decade, Bonnie Blair, announced last winter that she will retire after next year's world sprint championships in Milwaukee, but not even her agent believes her.

"Knowing Bonnie, she's going to finish the year and say, 'Let's go for another one,' " Helen Wald said.

But Blair insists she has no plans to continue.

"I can't think of anything that would change my mind," she says. "I'm going to have the biggest competition of the season in my own back yard and walk away. I've already accomplished more than I ever thought possible, and now there are other things I want to do with my life."


USOC President LeRoy Walker said he would like to see a new executive director to replace Harvey Schiller in place before the Pan American Games next March. "But we all know that's not possible," Walker said. The end of 1995 is more realistic, he said.

A search committee has been formed. Early candidates are believed to include USOC interim Executive Director John Krimsky, U.S. Skiing President Mike Jacki, U.S. Figure Skating Executive Director Jerry Lace, former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson, Women's Sports Foundation President Donna Lopiano, former Houston Mayor Kathy Whitmire and Liberty Bowl CEO Steve Erhart. . . . Schiller, now president of Turner Sports, and Pilson are expected to receive the Olympic Order from International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch next year.

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