Thursday, September 20, 2012

What should have been USA Swimming's finest hour was shouted down by two middle-aged women!

When USA Swimming declared Rick Curl unfit for participation as a coach; "banned for life," it should have been USA Swimming's finest hour. Instead they were shouted down by two middle-aged women who in the eyes of the press had more credibility than the executive staff at USA swimming.

News outlets like Associated Press, ESPN, the Washington Post all the way down to Courtroom News gave both Kelley Davies Currin and Dia Rianda several paragraphs worth of rebuttal and even some editorial space which they used well.

Though Rick Curl was banned for life under some arcane code violation that had nothing to do with sex abuse*, USA Swimming was summarily humiliated internationally despite doing a very good deed. In the end USA Swimming was made to look like an untrustworthy governing body who minces words like a chef and puts their own personal interests well above the parents and kids that they are suppose to serve. No matter what the executive staff says this is a plausible belief and here is why.

There is a term called "falling on your sword" - The literal sense means to commit suicide but the figurative usage is when a CEO, a politician or a general in the military takes personal responsibility or the blame for an organizational error by quitting or leaving that organization and taking all the shame and blame with them. This allows the organization to "reboot" and be looked at anew and given a second chance to catch it's breath and do the right thing.

In 2010 after the 20/20 episode aired to ballistic ratings and after the "Let's keep this between you and me" email surfaced, the executive staff, namely Chuck Wielgus, Bruce Stratton, Pat Hogan were obviously too cowardly to "fall on their swords" and allow USA Swimming to look like a credible organization moving forward. It was selfish and as a result USA Swimming will never be granted a trust mandate for it will always be plausible that they are hiding something.

[*-- This was sent to me by a reader: The banning of Rick Curl reeks of a sweetheart arrangement. Not only was Curl spared of having to testify and therefore potentially incriminating himself relating to future criminal proceedings, but he was not cited as a sex abuser, under Code of Conduct Section 304.3.8 or otherwise, as a basis for banishment. Instead, an archaic regulation that long ago was replaced was utilized. The section cited (450.1) is nowhere to be found in USA Swimming’s 2012 Rule Book. [...] Curl should be branded for what he is- a child molester.” --]

7 comments:

Sarah G said...

The rule is just a bit stronger than saying without cause. For those curious, here's the rule:

450.1 GENERAL - As herein set forth, the Corporation may censure, suspend for a definite or indefinite period of time with or without terms of probation, or expel any member of the Corporation, including any athlete, coach, manager, official, member of any committee, or any person participating in any capacity whatsoever in the affairs of the Corporation, who has violated any of its rules or regulations, or who has acted in a manner which brings disrepute upon the Corporation or upon the sport of swimming. The Corporation may also conduct hearings on any matter affecting the Corporation as the national governing body for swimming.

Anonymous said...

Tony,

USA Swimming can only take action against a member based on the rules in place at the time the violation occurred. The USA Swimming Code of Conduct was introduced to the Rulebook in 1998. This included 15 measures of specific unsavory conduct including sexual misconduct. Before then, the only measure in the Rulebook was a general morality clause- 'conduct unbecoming'. As has been well documented, Rick Curl's abuse of Ms Davies occurred in the mid 80s, this his violation must be documented according to the rules in place at the time which is why he is banned under the general morality clause and not the specific sexual misconduct clause.

Sarah G said...

Now that I read my own comment, doesn't rule 405.1 negate the need to have the 2/3 vote in order to remove an officer. USA Swimming already has the ability to remove an officer.

Anonymous said...

Those instances of 450.1 which were invoked in the Curl case were in effect from 1981 to 1985.

The current section most equivalent to that 450.1 is:
304.2 Any member or prospective member of USA Swimming may be denied membership, censured,
placed on probation, suspended for a definite or indefinite period of time with or without
terms of probation, fined or expelled from USA Swimming if such member violates the provisions
of the USA Swimming Code of Conduct, set forth in 304.3, or aids, abets or encourages another
person to violate any of the provisions of the USA Swimming Code of Conduct.

The need for a provision to remove an officer is still needed, for instances like multiple unexcused absences, failure to do the job, incompetence, etc. An officer or director could also be removed via the Code of Conduct, if that is what they violated.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, it will probably be just a matter of time before Curl pops up in a college or high school setting. I'm sure he has many friends who will give him a job.

I know of a Head coach, who within a two year period, left 3 USA Swimming Clubs (two he was fired from - not sure about the third) and now he is the Head coach at a high school. (The head of Athletics at this high school had worked in Colorado Springs for USA Swimming and the USOC for many years).

His social media site reads something like "I can still swim, barely." - posted shortly before his new position was announced. Does that mean that something happened with USA Swimming and now he cannot coach with a USA Swimming Club?

What gets interesting is that a USA Swimming club team practices at the high school facility and one of the Athletic Directors is also a Head age group coach for the club team.

I know of another coach who was accused of sexual abuse and now coaches at a Division 1 school.

Being banned from USA Swimming does not end a coaching career. There are ways to get around USA Swimming.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, it will probably be just a matter of time before Curl pops up in a college or high school setting. I'm sure he has many friends who will give him a job.

I know of a Head coach, who within a two year period, left 3 USA Swimming Clubs (two he was fired from - not sure about the third) and now he is the Head coach at a high school. (The head of Athletics at this high school had worked in Colorado Springs for USA Swimming and the USOC for many years).

His social media site reads something like "I can still swim, barely." - posted shortly before his new position was announced. Does that mean that something happened with USA Swimming and now he cannot coach with a USA Swimming Club?

What gets interesting is that a USA Swimming club team practices at the high school facility and one of the Athletic Directors is also a Head age group coach for the club team.

I know of another coach who was accused of sexual abuse and now coaches at a Division 1 school.

Being banned from USA Swimming does not end a coaching career. There are ways to get around USA Swimming.

Tony Austin said...

Every security system has a back door somewhere.

I'm reading a book right now about an art forger who never got caught and is still forging pieces today though he is doing it on commission and he signs his real name t them. With all the resources museums have, auction houses, and galleries too, some just get gamed but most don't care because they just want that sale.

If USA Swimming is that "museum" curator we demand that they verify the "authenticity" of who is coaching. If a high school is that "auction house" we should demand the same and finally if the local swimming club is the "gallery" then ditto.

And speaking of lazy, Sotheby's refuses to guarantee the authenticity of anything they auction. They tell you up front "caveat emptor" or "We are told this is a Picasso, we don't verify it we just sell it; you decide".

Does that laziness remind you a any coaching association you may or may not heard of?

This is a rewrite of the previous comment because the original was full of typos.