BOSTON — Dick Schultz, who persuaded athletes and administrators that he can serve each group's interests without compromising the other's, on Friday was voted in as executive director of the U.S. Olympic Committee, ending a search that involved more than 125 candidates.
Schultz, former director of the NCAA, was unanimously elected by the USOC's executive committee during a daylong special meeting. His term will run through the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia, and might be extended through the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.
The position, the equivalent of a corporate chief operating officer, had been vacant since last summer, when Harvey Schiller resigned to become president of Turner Sports. John Krimsky Jr., the USOC's deputy secretary general, had also been its acting executive director. Krimsky will retain his deputy post and add the title of managing director, business affairs.
LeRoy Walker, the USOC's president and chairman of the search committee, said he had no qualms about Schultz's resignation as head of the NCAA in 1993 after it was revealed some University of Virginia athletes received improper payments while Schultz was the school's athletic director. Walker said he had documentation from the NCAA supporting Schultz's assertions of innocence.
"I'm not sure the NCAA clearly publicized [that] its decision was a unanimous vote by the panel investigating that there was no responsibility or violations [by Schultz]," Walker said. "It indicated [Schultz's resignation] was pretty much a noble gesture on Dick's part. . . . We're very comfortable with that."
Schultz, 65, said he would dissolve his sports consulting firm by Sept. 1 to avoid potential conflicts of interest between personal and USOC affairs.
"It's a very interesting and very exciting challenge," Schultz said. "I think we have something very unique, with two Olympics going to be in our country in the next few years [the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta and the 2002 Winter Games]. This is a window of opportunity we need to take advantage of."
Schultz said he probably would have withdrawn his candidacy had he not won Friday. He didn't intend to run for office but was urged to do so by Krimsky. "This is a labor of love because I'm at a point in my life where I don't need a job," he said. "This has been a kind of interesting process for me. I think we've got a tremendous window of opportunity to do things not only nationally, but internationally. We want to create a much closer relationship between national governing bodies [of Olympic sports] and the USOC, a more harmonic relationship that will produce more things jointly."
Two other candidates appeared before the executive committee Friday. USOC officials would not identify them, but it is believed they were Mike Jacki, the former executive director of U.S. Skiing and USA Gymnastics, and Kenneth Burnley, a school superintendent in Colorado Springs. Walker said the search committee's recommendation of Schultz was "almost unanimous."
Walker, who staunchly supported Schultz, denied reports he would have resigned as head of the search committee--and perhaps as president of the USOC--if Schultz's election had been postponed or rejected Friday.
The search committee included former Olympic luger Bonny Warner, who said she sought out other athletes to determine their concerns and drew up a list of questions she described as "very long and very pointed." Some athletes, such as former Olympic wrestler Chris Campbell, had expressed doubt Schultz would heed their concerns based on Campbell's belief Schultz did little to promote athletes' rights during his NCAA tenure.
Warner, the Athletes Advisory Council's representative on the search committee, said Schultz "answered every single one of the questions. I was completely satisfied with Dick's answers and I'm very comfortable with his selection."