Monday, September 10, 2012

USA Swimming proposed rule change: It looks like Chuck Wielgus and the officers at USA Swimming are angling to have a job designated for life!

This weekend USA Swimming is going to have a convention and they will be voting on some new rules.

If one of those rules is enacted, 503.7 REMOVAL OF OFFICERS or line number 365 in the document linked below, this rule would make it nearly impossible to replace any officer within USA Swimming without a  2/3s-vote of the entire voting membership of the USA Swimming Board of Directors. Then it goes even further. If the vote was mustered to remove the officer, the officer who was voted out gets to have a Board of Review hearing and then it would take another vote with a 2/3s-vote requirement to finally remove the offending officer.

The only officer I can name at USA Swimming is the Chief Executive Officer and his name is Chuck Wielgus. Apparently he wants to game the rules to avoid any dismissal attempt EVER!

Here is the rule as described:
503.7 Removal of Officers. Any elected or appointed officer of USA Swimming who has failed to attend to his or her official duties or responsibilities or has done so improperly, or who would be subject to penalty for any of the reasons set forth in Article 404.1.3 of the USA Swimming Rules and Regulations, may be removed from office by the National Board of Review pursuant to Part Four of the USA Swimming Rules and Regulations, in an action authorized by a two-thirds (2/3rds) vote of the entire voting membership of the Board of Directors.

Any appeal of the Decision of the National Board of Review would be heard by the Board of Directors as a whole (not by a panel thereof) and any decision of the Board of Directors in favor of removal of an Officer would require a two-thirds (2/3rds) vote of the entire voting membership of the Board of Directors. 

The purpose of a Board of Directors from Professor Steward Hamilton from

"... The Scots have a saying that “the fish rots from the head”, and so it is with companies. The prime function of the board is to provide oversight and guidance, to monitor the CEO’s and senior management’s actions and to protect the interests of the shareholders. As part of this, they must be prepared to challenge and hold accountable the CEO and remove him if he fails to discharge his duties adequately. This they are less likely to do if they are financially beholden to the company, or are family members or cronies. [...]

An essential characteristic of a non-executive director must be independence of mind, which needs to be coupled with a willingness to walk away if dissatisfied. Few companies enjoy explaining to the outside world why a non-executive director has resigned. ..."


503.7 Removal of Officers as written appears to be a motion that will steal both purpose and power from the USA Swimming Board of Directors thereby making their guidance both ineffectual and lazy. The board members are the collective mind of USA Swimming and if more than 50%, 55% or 60% of Board of Directors are not in agreement with the direction the CEO is taking them, then it is the CEO's responsibility to either follow their directions or get lost.

Ask yourself this: Why does that number have to be 66% to remove an officer at USA Swimming? Why is so important for the USA Swimming Board of Director to give up any power at all? Does it take more than 51% of them to make a credible decision? The officers at USA Swimming think so and I would like to hear their argument why these officers have immunity whereas no other employee does not.

Those that will suffer the most in the long run with be the kids, the athletes and the program. The board members are the collective mind of USA Swimming and they are the veto mechanism that prevents arrogant abuse of power. I hope they don't forfeit that right.


Anonymous said...

I believe the addition of the rules is a good thing. Currently, the Corporate Bylaws do not contain any provision providing for such removal of officers and directors.

The rules will make it possible to remove officers and directors who have been elected or appointed who have failed to attend to their official duties or responsibilities or who have done so improperly.

Wielgus is a paid employee, therefore, I don't believe this rule addition applies to him. I believe the rule addition is meant for the volunteers who seek the various positions but neglect their duties and responsibilities that come with the positions.

Officers at USA Swimming include: Administrative VP, Program Development VP, Technical VP, Program Operations VP, Athletes VP, Treasurer, and Secretary - there are probably more.

This rule addition allows USA Swimming to remove some of the bad apples.

Sarah G said...

This may not have much effect on a day to day basis. There are too many voting members for any opinion contrary to Weilgus's to prevail. They would barely have 2/3 of the voting members present for a vote. It's business as usual, and very typical for non-profits were board members are not paid.

Anonymous said...

I suggest you do a little bit of research here:
Look in particular at Part 5.

Just because you put "officer" in the title of Wielgus' position, doesn't mean he's a member of the board of directors or an officer (in legal terms) of USA Swimming.

This rule change proposal wouldn't affect him at all.

Your ignorance is showing through.

Tony Austin said...

As for Wielgus, I so suspect his Executive Director title is a sham so this can get pushed through and jammed down the throats of the members.

I am so sure the title will change back to CEO once the measure was passed.

The Denver Business Journal has him listed as the Chief Executive Officer.

Manta has him listed as the Chief Executive Officer:

HE is listed as Chief Executive Officer of the USA Swimming Foundation

And this from AP quoting an source from the USOC as to who the candidates were for the top job there for prez:

".... Two people familiar with the search told The Associated Press there are six candidates: TD Ameritrade chairman Joe Moglia; former baseball executive Sandy Alderson; current chief operating officer Norm Bellingham; former general counsel and interim CEO of the USOC, Scott Blackmun; Jet Set Sports president Mark Lewis and USA Swimming CEO Chuck Wielgus. ..."

Anonymous said...

You can't get it through your thick skull that NO MATTER WHAT YOU CALL HIS JOB TITLE it doesn't fall into the "officer" category as defined by the BYLAWS of USA Swimming. What other websites call his position means absolutely NOTHING with respect to this rule change. He is not an officer with respect to this proposed rule and it DOES NOT APPLY TO HIM.

Since you obviously did not go to the link I provided above, here is the relevant section of the code:

503.1 Officers — All USA Swimming officers, except the Secretary and the Athletes Vice
President, shall be elected by the House of Delegates at annual meetings held in even-numbered
years. The elected officers shall be President, Treasurer, Vice President of Administration, Vice
President of Program Development, Vice President of Program Operations, Technical Vice President
and Athletes Vice President.

WHERE DOES IT LIST executive direction, chief executive officer, or whatever you want to call his job title?? Where???

If you're going to editorialize at least get your facts straight.

Tony Austin said...

I just listed several sources and noted websites such as Associated Press, Denver Business Journal etc. etc. declaring him a CEO and you want to argue his title rather than why this is a good rule.

My take is that his title of Executive Director is simply a temporary one till this rule passes.

The fact that you appear to be histrionic about this subject with your "WIlliam Shatner or Christopher Walken" style of punctuation leads tells me to believe that I have pushed some serious buttons at Colorado Springs.

Go eat some ice cream and calm down.

Anonymous said...

I am not, and have never been, in Colorado Springs. I am not, and never have been, associated with USA Swimming in an administrative or volunteer position. I do know the basics of non-profits, and I see that you are totally clueless (as usual).

The bottom line is that it doesn't matter one bit what anyone calls Wielgus. The proposed rule change has nothing at all to do with him. NOTHING!!!!

The first person to comment said the same thing. And that wasn't me.

This is the sort of thing that really blows your credibility away. It is easy for any person interested in the truth to go to the original source and see that you are wrong.

Yellow journalism.

Sarah G said...

Weilgus is listed as an officer on the IRS Form 990. Whether his removal requires 2/3 vote of all eligible to vote or a majority of those present is unlikely to matter. Whether the rule applies to the corporate officers or the House of Delegates is unlikely to matter. You and anonymous may be arguing semantics.

Here's what I find interesting. You mentioned in your comment at 11:44 "pushing some buttons." Why introduce this rule at all? Why now? Is something going on? The motivation for the rule could be far more significant than whether such a rule is in effect.

Tony Austin said...

Yellow commenting

Tony Austin said...

Well howdy, howdy, howdy, Wielgus is listed as an officer in a form 990 sent directly to the IRS!

How many original sources do you want?:

So, the press, various websites, and an IRS Form 990 list him as an officer!

I am ready for apology now!

Sarah G said...

A question for Anonymous (the one who commented at 12:44):
Would you explain the difference between corporate officers and House of Delegates officers. It seems you and Tony are arguing about 2 different things, and I sense you have little desire to explain it to Tony. As I've posted I don't think it matters, but maybe if things would be less volatile if everyone used the same terminology.

Anonymous said...

Here is the relevant IRS information for the 990:

Item F. Name and address of principal officer. The address provided must be a complete mailing address to enable the IRS to communicate with the organization's current (as of the date this return is filed) principal officer, if necessary. If the officer prefers to be contacted at the organization's address listed in item C, enter “same as C above.” For purposes of this item, “principal officer” means an officer of the organization who, regardless of title, has ultimate responsibility for implementing the decisions of the organization's governing body, or for supervising the management, administration, or operation of the organization.

The person in USA Swimming who has the ultimate responsibility for implementing the decisions of USA Swimming's governing body is Wielgus. So in the eyes of the IRS he is the "principle officer."

But according to the USA Swimming Bylaws, he is not an officer of the organization subject to the proposed rule change.

You can come up with whatever crap you want, but if you insist on being stupid, go ahead. I'm not going to argue it any more.

Tony Austin said...

You just won't say why this is a good rule but rather find insignificant definitions and slight of hand titles.

Yes, and when he goes to get fired for his Paterno like handling of the Sex abuse crisis; (remember the "let's keep this between you and me email - How Paterno is that?), he will declare himself an officer or use his CEO title once again after it is convenient. He will have a Form 990 to throw at the membership

You can leave now.

Anonymous said...

I am the first poster.

USA Swimming is made up of volunteers. The committee members, officers, directors, etc. are appointed or elected for a term. The corporate by-laws had no provisions to get rid of any of these individuals during their terms.

These rule additions 503.7 Removal of Officers and 504.7 Removal of Non-officers Directors allows removal of individuals before their terms are up.

I believe paid staff can be fired at any time.

Sarah G said...

To Anonymous:
That actually does help explain it a bit. Although, I was referring to the list of officers on page 17 of the Form 990, where it can check officer, key employee, highest compensated employee, etc, and he checked officer.

So it appears the Bylaws use different terminology than typically used in legal documents. Of course, corporations are free to use whatever terminology they choose internally. Given this, misunderstandings and misinterpretations are inevitable.

You stated you are not connected with USA Swimming or any non-profit, yet you know so much. What is your interest in this matter?

Sarah G said...


While I was writing my comment, you said "You can leave now." I hope he doesn't take you seriously.

Don't get me wrong. You may be correct on your assessment of this whole matter, and it is your blog. But some people need more information.

Tony Austin said...

You can leave comment was directed at the:

"...You can come up with whatever crap you want, but if you insist on being stupid, go ahead. I'm not going to argue it any more. ..."

It was a very Berkoff thing to say and i am glad he is gone.

I love all my readers even the ones that insult me especially if their insults are written rather well, show some wit and make me laugh.

Those people have actually changed my mind on occasion.

I will be more specific as to who I am directing my flames at.

Anonymous said...


I am anon who posted at 10:59pm and 1:30pm. Your post at 1:32pm is directed at two different anon posters so I will answer your question as it pertains to my family.

"My interest in this matter" is that my family has been screwed by officers and directors of USA Swimming and the LSC for years. (I'll provide one example).

The administrative VP of USA Swimming is also on the board of directors for my LSC and has denied my family entry into meets they were eligible to swim. The reason was because there are too many swimmers in our LSC so the rules in the rulebook do not apply. Another coach had told me that the rules were placed in the rulebook to allow swimmers who attended two particular universities within the LSC to compete if they didn't have recorded times, but the rules weren't intended for swimmers who attended other colleges/universities within the LSC.

The new rules state "who have failed to attend to their official duties or responsibilities or who have done so improperly or who would be subject to penalty for any of the reasons set forth in Article 404.1.3."

Article 404.1.3 states, "The LSC Board of Review may fashion remedies and orders and impose penalties with respect to any Group or Individual Member of the LSC, or Participating Non-Member residing within the LSC (1) who has violated any of the regulations, rules, policies or procedures of the LSC, USA Swimming or FINA, including any of the responsibilities of membership set forth in the Required LSC Bylaws, (2) who aids, abets, instigates or encourages another to violate any of such regulations, rules or policies, (3) who is responsible for any such violation by another, or (4) who has acted in a manner which has brought, or may bring, into disrepute the LSC, USA Swimming or the sport of Swimming."

There are numerous rule additions/changes that apply to my situation, but all I hear is that "No individual violated any rules or regulations".

Sarah G said...

Thanks for the explanation Anonymous 10:59. This thread makes a lot more sense when I read it as two different people.

Sorry to hear about your children taking the brunt of someone's hissy fit. That's the worst.

As for your reference to "No individual violated any rules or regulations.", isn't that the mantra of dysfunctional organizations? My kid's school district hasn't used that yet, they go with "We are not accountable to you." Both are maddening. Not much to be done, but make our voices heard, and hope someone with power and integrity hears. Thank goodness for blogs.

Anonymous said...


My family can deal with "hissy fits".

I'm talking about a systematic failure of people who volunteer for positions and then ignore the duties and responsibilities that come with holding those positions.

Anonymous said...


According to the document you linked to, removal of officers and directors was placed into effect "immediately".

I assume it is already a done deal.

Sarah G said...

To Anonymous10:59,

I sorry if I implied the behavior was just a "hissy" fit, and perhaps belittled your complaint. I meant just the opposite. People use their positions for many reasons, and a few are childish. If you persist on requiring them to do their jobs, they can be vengeful.

Some people who ignore their duties are pursuing a personal, often self-serving agenda. If you expect them to represent the public, they can be indifferent, arrogant, even offended. Some are addicted to kudos, and won't expend any effort to help unless you can further to their own interests.

Added to the vengeful and self-serving group is the indifferent or clueless.

I don't know the motivation behind you issue(s), but I have empathy.

Tony Austin said...

Look, in any type of society or culture, both rules and laws are enacted because a problem needs solving. In this case there are three scenarios: USA Swimming wants to fire some people, protect some people or do both.

I suspect they want to get rid of dissenters and permanently fix the more powerful.

Anonymous said...

How about 502.1

Persons with access to the SWIMS database should be subject to the background checks. This closes an unintended loophole.

Hmmm - perhaps sexual favors or monetary payoffs for a specific time to be entered?

Anonymous said...

To "immediately" anonymous: The rule is not yet in effect. That "immediately" means that the effective date of the rule would be when it passes, not at some date in the future, as is the case with some technical swimming rules.

To the anonymous who is having problems with their LSC. I feel for you and wish we could converse further about the issues you are having, since I suspect that they may be very similar to mine.

Anonymous said...


I'm not offended by your comment - I understand where you are coming from.

USA Swimming Sport Development Consultant states that the LSC I reside in, is run very different from most LSC's. Unless people are VERY familiar with the LSC and the key players, my complaint wouldn't be easy to understand. Even I didn't initially know the depth of involvement of others or the connections.

Like you said, "Thank goodness for blogs". The google searches and the blogs have helped immensely, much more than trying to go through the "proper" channels.