USA Gymnastics says directors will resign

David Wharton
Los Angeles Times

USA Gymnastics has confirmed that its entire board of directors will resign as requested by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

The move came Friday in the fallout from the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal. The former USA Gymnastics sports doctor has been pleaded guilty to molesting girls and young women. Some of the nation’s top gymnasts, including Olympians Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles and Jordyn Wieber, said they were among his victims.

The USOC had threatened to decertify the gymnastics organization, which besides picking U.S. national teams is the umbrella organization for hundreds of clubs across the country. A handful of board members had stepped down, but the USOC said a wholesale change was needed.

The USOC has also demanded much tighter reporting from USA Gymnastics on reforms it is making. It also required all USAG staff and board members to complete various safety and ethics training courses over the next six months.

“We do not base these requirements on any knowledge that any individual USAG staff or board members had a role in fostering or obscuring Nassar’s actions,” USOC Chief Executive Scott Blackmun wrote. “Our position comes from a clear sense that USAG culture needs a fundamental rebuilding.”

The demands were included in a letter sent to the gymnastics organization’s Indianapolis headquarters on Thursday, shortly after Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for molesting young athletes.

Scores of women – including Olympic champions such as Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney – have said Nassar sexually abused them while he was serving in an official capacity for USA Gymnastics, Michigan State University and other organizations.

The former Olympic team doctor was sentenced to 60 years on child pornography charges.

Fallout from the scandal has already prompted the suspension of Olympic coach John Geddert and the resignation of three key USA Gymnastics board members. Lou Anna Simon, the president of Michigan State, also stepped down on Thursday.

USA Gymnastics vowed to adhere to the latest USOC demands.

“We understand that the requirements imposed by the letter will help us enhance our ability to build a culture of empowerment throughout the organization, with an increased focus on athlete safety and well-being,” the national governing body said.

The USOC has asked that an interim board be established by the end of February and that permanent replacements be found within 12 months. It also seeks to have a designated liaison present at all future board meetings.

USA Gymnastics has been ordered to cooperate with an independent investigation commissioned by the USOC to determine when complaints were first brought against Nassar and why his actions went unaddressed over the course of decades.

“Please understand that the circumstances that led to this crisis demand our attention and intervention,” Blackmun wrote in the letter. “Our common focus and motivation needs to be athlete support and protection.”

Associated Press contributed to this report.