Ex-law­maker Bono hired as in­terim CEO

USA Gym­nas­tics at­tempts to move past scan­dal with lead­er­ship search

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

IN­DI­ANAPO­LIS — USA Gym­nas­tics has hired former Con­gress­woman Mary Bono as in­terim pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion an­nounced the move Fri­day. Bono will hold the po­si­tion while USA Gym­nas­tics searches for a per­ma­nent suc­ces­sor to Kerry Perry, who re­signed un­der pres­sure from the United States Olympic Com­mit­tee in Septem­ber af­ter spend­ing nine months on the job.

Bono spent 15 years as a U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive from South­ern Cal­i­for­nia from 1998-2013. She won her first term in a spe­cial elec­tion run­ning as a Repub­li­can to fill the va­cancy left by the death of her hus­band, former pop star and law­maker Sonny Bono. Mary Bono most re­cently worked at a con­sult­ing firm in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

Bono, 57, has a back­ground in gym­nas­tics. She trained for sev­eral clubs for a decade.

“Mary is pas­sion­ate about the sport, and hav­ing her as our in­terim pres­i­dent and CEO will move the or­ga­ni­za­tion for­ward,” USA Gym­nas­tics board chair­man Karen Golz said in a state­ment.

USA Gym­nas­tics is still strug­gling to emerge from the fall­out of the sex­ual abuse scan­dal sur­round­ing former team doc­tor Larry Nas­sar. More than 200 women have come for­ward over the last two years claim­ing they were sex­u­ally abused by Nas­sar un­der the guise of treat­ment, in­clud­ing cur­rent or former mem­bers of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s elite pro­gram.

The group of sur­vivors in­cludes reign­ing Olympic cham­pion Si­mone Biles, who was named to the 2018 world cham­pi­onship team on Fri­day shortly be­fore Bono’s hir­ing was an­nounced.

Nas­sar is now serv­ing decades in pri­son for child pornog­ra­phy and sex­ual as­sault. USA Gym­nas­tics is in me­di­a­tion in an at­tempt to set­tle dozens of civil law­suits filed against it in the wake of the rev­e­la­tions against Nas­sar.

Perry took over as USA Gym­nas­tics pres­i­dent on Dec. 1, 2017, but was pushed out in Septem­ber by the USOC fol­low­ing a se­ries of mis­steps, in­clud­ing the botched hir­ing and fir­ing of its elite de­vel­op­ment co­or­di­na­tor.

The coach, Mary Lee Tracy, was an early sup­porter of Nas­sar when al­le­ga­tions against him be­gan to sur­face two years ago. Af­ter the an­nounce­ment of her pro­mo­tion, Tracy made an at­tempt to reach out to six-time Olympic medal­ist Aly Rais­man — her­self a Nas­sar vic­tim — af­ter Rais­man called Tracy’s hir­ing “a slap in the face for sur­vivors” and proof that the or­ga­ni­za­tion had not changed.

USA Gym­nas­tics re­sponded by ask­ing Tracy to step down. While the re­quest was made in the in­ter­est of pro­tect­ing USA Gym­nas­tics legally — Rais­man has filed a law­suit against the fed­er­a­tion — it also be­came an­other pub­lic re­la­tions mishap.

Newly hired USOC CEO Sarah Hir­sh­land had seen enough, say­ing in a state­ment last month that USA Gym­nas­tics “is strug­gling to man­age its obli­ga­tions ef­fec­tively and it is time to con­sider mak­ing ad­just­ments in the lead­er­ship.”

USA Gym­nas­tics formed a search com­mit­tee in Septem­ber to find a full­time re­place­ment for Perry. Spencer Stu­art, an ex­ec­u­tive re­cruit­ing firm, has been re­tained to han­dle the search.

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