COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — In the U.S. Olympic Committee’s version of a perfect world, CEO Scott Blackmun will help the Americans bring the curtain down on the Los Angeles Olympics in 2024.
The USOC board extended Blackmun’s contract by five years, through 2021, with an option to keep him through the 2024 Games.
Chairman Larry Probst said the extension, announced Friday, was recognition of the work Blackmun has done since he got the job in 2010, but clearly there’s another factor at play here: The USOC wants to show it is stable as it tries to help Los Angeles land the 2024 Olympics.
“It seemed like a no-brainer to me and the board,” Probst said. “We’re highly interested in him leading the organization forward for the next six years, at least.”
Blackmun will work under the same terms as his current contract, which pays him nearly $980,000 a year, including bonuses.
The announcement came on the same day that Mike Krzyzewski, the coach of Duke and the USA basketball team, was on hand to deliver a speech to the U.S. Olympic Assembly. He appreciated the message being sent.
“It’s really powerful,” Krzyzewski said. “When you keep changing, then people don’t know (the culture). The neighborhood he has to negotiate, it’s very difficult. The more knowledge and more activity you’ve had in it is a good thing.”
Blackmun came into the job five years ago, after a nine-month period of tumult at the USOC that included the forced resignation of Jim Scherr as CEO, the unpopular hiring of Stephanie Streeter to replace him and, most notably, the fourth-place humiliation of Chicago in the bidding for the 2016 Olympics.
All the upheaval, combined with the USOC’s poor international reputation, hurt Chicago’s cause. Under Blackmun and Probst, the USOC has established itself as a more reliable partner worldwide.
Los Angeles is in the running for the 2024 Games against Paris, Rome, Hamburg, Germany, and Budapest, Hungary. The vote is in 2017.
Blackmun’s contract runs through at least 2021, and if both sides agree, he would stay on for four years beyond that.
“He has offered terrific leadership to the organization and developed a high level or respect internationally,” Probst said.
Notes: Probst said LA 2024 chairman Casey Wasserman will be involved with the bid on a day-to-day basis but that Wasserman told the USOC board he also plans to hire a CEO. … The USOC is slimming down its operation of the training center in Chula Vista, California, hoping to redistribute some of the saved money to other sports and athletes. … Blackmun said the USOC has $15 million of the $20 million it is trying to raise to run its Safe Sport program and the nomination and governance boards were named earlier this month. … When Wasserman was 17, Probst hired him as an intern at EA Sports, where the executive-to-be was a game-tester. Probst: “If you’re 17 years old and get hired as a game tester and you get paid, you’re a pretty happy kid, and he did a great job.” … Probst said a defining moment for him came in 2012 when Thomas Bach, now the president of the International Olympic Committee, shook his hand after the USOC and IOC finally ironed out a revenue-sharing agreement that had been a sore spot for both sides for years. “He said something along the lines of, `Welcome to the Olympic movement,”‘ Probst said. “That was the highest hurdle we had to get over.”
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