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Ward Receives Vote of Confidence From USOC

Executive committee supports CEO, who came under scrutiny for his membership at Augusta.

November 05, 2002|Alan Abrahamson | Times Staff Writer

Lloyd Ward, the U.S. Olympic Committee's chief executive, has won a vote of confidence from the USOC's policy-making executive committee on the sensitive issue of his membership in Augusta National Golf Club, which does not have any female members.

But several sources predicted that a reprieve from controversy over the issue -- and, more broadly, Ward's tenure as CEO -- will be short-lived.

"I don't think there's anyone who was in that room who doesn't think that [Ward's Augusta membership] isn't going to come up again," one USOC insider said Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity and adding, "If not stated, there's certainly now a time clock ticking."

Ward is one of a handful of African American members at Augusta, site each spring of the Masters. The club is under pressure, in particular from the National Council of Women's Organizations, to admit women members.

In an Oct. 7 statement, Ward pledged to "aggressively work" for reform from within.

Last Friday, after deliberating behind closed doors, the executive committee said Ward had its "strong support" because of what it called "his principled position on the issue and his commitment to the inclusion of women."

That statement was timed to ensure that the issue did not deflect attention from the vote Saturday by the USOC board of directors for New York as the U.S. candidate for the 2012 Olympics. It also, several sources said, reflected the lobbying of several influential USOC delegates, who see in Ward perhaps a last chance to match the USOC's CEO job with an executive boasting experience in corporate matters. Ward arrived at the USOC one year ago; his prior experience includes a stint as CEO of Maytag Corp.

In other action at the USOC meeting, which wrapped up Sunday in Colorado Springs, Colo., boxing's governing body was put on probation for failing to meet certain managerial and financial obligations. It was given until Dec. 1 to comply or face the prospect of losing its standing as a national governing body.

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