Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Catholic church settles US lawsuits, selects new Pope, church reboots! - Take note USA Swimming.

The Catholic church reboots, puts USA molestation scandals behind it, installs a new executive director; (AKA Pope), moves forward anew.

It took a lot courage for Pope Benedict XVI to step down and he did so for the parishioners and the church itself. When the new Pope enters "office" I predict a slew of middle managers; (Bishops and Cardinals), will suddenly retire and you just may see a more compelling and transparent church as a result.

USA Swimming should take note and follow Benedict's XVI lead. I think it's time that Chuck Wielgus politely step down to settle his health matters and USA Swimming should appoint a new executive director to redesign the organization and bring it into the 21st century. The USA Swimming membership is predominately female, subsequently it's time for USA Swimming to appoint, for the first time in their history, a female Executive Director.

 I got into a "flame war" over at Swimming World with David Berkoff. In my humble opinion he should be one of the first "Bishops" to step down for when he heard rumors; which he believed to be true, that a swimmer named Lisa Dorman and Kelly Davies were being molested, he failed to report these crimes to the police or otherwise. See this post for details: [Link]

I am told by a representative of the Kelly Davies that Berkoff never apologized for failing to report what he had heard and believed. With this in mind, how can you take David Berkoff, a USA Swimming board of director, seriously when he tells the "flock" to report, report, report, when he failed to report two crimes he had knowledge of?

USA Swimming has an opportunity to reboot and once again be trusted.


Anonymous said...

The Catholic Church should not be used as a guide for USA Swimming. USA Swimming may have been slow to act but local authorities have not and several coaches have been prosecuted by the law. Meanwhile the Catholic Church pays off abused survivors and ship the offending Priests (are they Priest or Fathers or something?) off to counties without extradition treaties to the US. USA Swimming may not be perfect but they are far better then the Catholic Church.

Tony Austin said...

USA Swimming did likewise; There were slow to respond, their executive dir covered up reports and lawsuit claims were "settled."

Rick Curl was "sent" to Australia and Coaches like Mitch Ivey and James Pantera are still around.

I do feel the analogy fits.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. How can you compare!

USA Swimming doesn't ship offending coaches off -- they are forced to find their own way to a new club with nothing more than their ASCA credentials and an implicit agreement to look the other way.

And USA Swimming certainly does not pay victims off. Can you imagine the toll that might take on bonuses and perks?

And the sentiment expressed in the last sentence deserves more emphasis. USA Swimming coaches molest far fewer children than Catholic priests. That's good fodder for a coach's resumes -- somebody else is worse.

Tony Austin said...

YEP! I agree

In Paragraph 3, yes they have settled cases via their off shore insurance company that they own. (Isn't that Ironic that they own a shell corporation under a foreign nation's flag. The term shell corporation came out of the executive director's mouth not mine.

In paragraph 4, There are about 350,000 kids in USA Swimming. According to the Catholic church there 66-million Catholics in the USA. So for every abuse victim USA Swimming sees, the Catholic church priests would have had to molested 189-victims to every lone child that was molested by a coach.

Subsequently I think USA Swimming may have a way higher abuse ratio than the Catholic Church. :-(

Anonymous said...

That off-shore business seems dubious.

The LSCs should shop around for better insurance.

Tony Austin said...

One LSC was threatened by Wielgus himself; told if they did none of their meets would get sanctioned.

Anonymous said...

Why do the LSCs exist as separate corporations if they are not autonomous? Why aren't they part of USA Swimming? Were they autonomous at one time?

Tony Austin said...


Tony Austin said...

The fact that they are told what insurance to buy, what rules they must follow... Yeah, it does seem odd.

Anonymous said...

It is more than interesting. In all likelyhood, the LSCs do not function as they told the IRS when requesting non-profit status. They most likely indicated they provide recreation, instruction, and/or competition opportunities. In practice they function as a business league for the clubs in the area or extend the business interests of USA Swimming.

Maybe the real answer to the overarching problems of USA Swimming is to ask less of that organization. Ask more of the LSCs. Background checks on coaches and coach education, choosing an insurance company, and offering competition events all fall within the scope of the tax exempt purpose claiming by these separate corporations.

Please keep the comment section of this post open a few days longer. I have a relative who is an IRS auditor. I'd like to ask her some questions, and add more.

Anonymous said...

Tony, I think the focus on the LSC is a little off subject. LSC's function differently depending on what LSC you are connected with. They focus on the primary needs of the clubs within their region and for the most part function in that regard very well. They have different structures and ways of accomplishing recreation, health, fitness, community service, instruction and/or competition opportunities. In order to be a LSC in good standing you must follow the rules and regulations of the NGB. In order to be a club in good standing you are asked to be a member in good standing and compliant with the rules of the LSC and NGB. This provides checks and balances and this is good. In theory all should go well here with this mostly democratic process. The legislative or democratic process of the organization at the LSC works for the most part. Most LSC's function predominately with volunteers, elected officers and have no or very few paid employees or compensated individuals. You happen to live where that is an exception. If people don't like the rules, most LSC's have a structure where you campaign and run for office. Just like any organization, if you don't like what you see you have to get involved and get others to support you in making change. Where this has all gone wrong in any non profit structure is when administration or executives are given too much power, too much money, little oversight, apathy, lack of audits, and have a board that does not practice due diligence in the responsibility of governance. USA Swimming LSC's or the NGB would not be in trouble if they just followed and enforced their published rules, policies, and code of conduct. They would not find themselves being scrutinized or in serious trouble if the people in administrative positions made reasonable salaries and did their job with integrity. People who put themselves in positions of coaching, officiating and administering a youth organization must be modest, humble, ethical,positive role models who are willing to make decisions that are best for the kids they are providing activity for. In any non profit when the emphasis is on money, ridiculous wages, power, perks, and economic opportunity for individuals the "REAL MISSION AND PURPOSE" get lost and the very people you were trying to provide goodwill towards or a service to, get hurt and forgotten.

Protecting a child from sexual abuse, grooming, exploitation and criminal behavior should be easy....

Anonymous said...

I don't think a female executive director would necessarily be a good thing. There are alot of nasty, nasty females in the sport with power that seems to go to their heads.

Some of the worse abusers are the females who cover up for their "friends".

Anonymous said...

If you are taking bets on who the misogynist troll, normally I'd place my money on John Leonard. But the comment, even though obnoxious, is expressed too coherently for JL.

Anonymous said...

11:44 comment

"you happen to live where there is an exception".

I've heard the same comment before. "SCS is very different from other LSC's" according to Bill Krumm - Western Zone Sport Development Consultant for USA Swimming.

SCS is basically untouchable and do whatever they want even though their practices are discriminatory.

This weekend there is a Senior Invitational Meet at FAST. According to the meet entry form the meet is open to athletes who hold current USA-S registration cards. Times not in SWIMS are provable only with official results subject to approval by SCS.

The psyche sheet shows many swimmers from Mexico entered. Did they all have to buy USA-S memberships? SCS will not let many college students who live in Southern California and are USA-S members use their college times to enter this meet, but will let a bunch of kids from Mexico use their times. It's great to be a good neighbor and I'm sure someone is benefiting big time, but others are being negatively affected.

Ironically, the college meets are administered and officiated by the same people who run USA Swimming meets.

Within USA swimming, individuals do not matter, it's all about keeping up the appearances. I think each and every 501(c)(3) within USA Swimming needs to be audited.

I agree - a reboot is necessary. Get back to basics - the mission statement - the amateur sports act.

Tony Austin said...

Are you actually impressed with the current management team at USA-S?

Swimming, from top to bottom, is primarily run by men. It really is a men's club from FINA all the way down to the local LSCs.

Barring women from executive functions at USA-S or within the LSC level is perplexing. The sport is dominated by girls, the next "Michael Phelps" will probably be a girl; (Missy Franklin perhaps?), yet they is no executive representation.

It's a history USA Swimming shouldn't be proud of.

Anonymous said...

The LSCs should be held accountable.

Most LSCs have a mission to provide competitive opportunities for children. Their mission statement is not contingent on USA Swimming sanctions.

Without USA Swimming approval, LSCs can still perform their mission as approved by the IRS. If they don't want to do that, they should pay taxes like for-profit corporations.

Does anyone know if any LSC has lost out on getting a meet sanctioned because it deviated from USA Swimming policy?

Tony Austin said...

I have seen a signed documented threat as mentioned above.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, the complaint that I wrote about a coach who is now behind bars was to Pacific Swimming, which I think, if I understand this correctly, is a LSC. (I'm not sure I understand the vernacular here.) From there, it went to USA Swimming, including their legal counsel, who then in turn advised all the coaches to remain hush-hush on what I'd described, and instead "monitor the situation very closely."

If I were to do this all over again, knowing what I know now, I wouldn't even use the USA Swimming complaint form. I would not go through Pacific Swimming or USA Swimming at all.

Why? Because this is what they want you to do. Now they can "investigate" and stop lawsuits. In my case, at the advice of their legal counsel, they lost the complaint, and that stopped a lawsuit.

I thought they were "monitoring the situation," which is what they told me. No, they forgot all about it. They weren't counting on a girl later going to the police about it, putting this man behind bars, and suing them.

And it wasn't until this lawsuit that they made any policy change whatsoever.

I told them I wasn't suing. I didn't want to be "that person" who is seeking financial gain over a sudden recollection of a traumatic event.

My mistake was the belief that keeping this in-house would do something. I really thought that by alerting Pacific Swimming about what I experienced, a member of that board would finally come out and say, "Well, I did see that 12-year old girl sitting on his lap," and maybe this guy would finally get fired. (I did hear another coach say he saw a 12 year old sitting on this guy's lap.)

I was a fool.

Anonymous said...

No, I'm not impressed with current USA-S management, or LSC management, or club management. From personal experience, many of the problems I experienced were because of unethical women. And, of course, there were the men and women who refused to act.

Personally, I don't care if a position is held by a male or female as long as they uphold their duties and responsibilities that come with accepting a position, whether paid or volunteer.

If USA Swimming hired a female CEO, it wouldn't guarantee that USA Swimming would improve. What PERSON is best for the job, regardless of gender, should be the criteria.

side note: MVN coach Dusenbury was just added to the banned list.

Tony Austin said...

Your opinions are noted, I don't think you are a sexist but if they got Stephanie Rule in there, she would be worth the $750k

Dusenbury is HUUUUGE news.

I felt "persona non grata" when I went down there for a meet. I actually avoided meets done there for fear of a confrontation. Do you have a reference...

Anonymous said...

Reference: banned list

Tony Austin said...

Thank you...

Anonymous said...

The LSCs may feel the situation is beyond their control, and they may be right. USA Swimming controls them, and although legally they are separate entities, they function like a franchised business.

The franchisor (USA Swimming) allows an operator, or a franchisee, to use the supplier's trademark in the marketing of goods and services supplier's goods. The franchisor dictates the conditions under which the operator does business, and the operator pays the franchisor fee.

If the LSCs were not non-profit corporation, exempt from federal (and usually state and local) taxes, the situation would be like a reader suggested. Take it or leave it.

But the tax relief the LSCs receive is a subsidy and carries obligations to the public.

The business model the LSCs operate under, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, violates the conditions the IRS sets forth.

I believe if 2-3 LSCs should be reported to the IRS. The rest may begin to do the mission they pledged to the public to do.

Any ideas which 2-3 would make good candidates for reporting?

Anonymous said...

LSCs policies support club business and USA Swimming business, not swimmers as they claim. Since they are non-profits, it is wrong. I just don't think it is wrong enough to matter to the IRS. Maybe when USA Swimming gets audited, they will have to explain how they are NOT administrative branches of USA Swimming to distance themselves from USA Swimming.

Anonymous said...

A thought:

Wonder if it would be advantageous to file claims in small claims court for breach of contract. This way voices would be heard without the bureaucracy of the review process and the expense of an attorney.

I believe that the LSC's and USA Swimming use evidence presented to them for their own gain

If evidence of abuse and criminal activity was presented in small claims, would a judge be required to charge the person?

Membership in a club is a contract and I assume that membership in the LSC/USA Swimming is also a contract.

Are punitive damages awarded in small claims cases?

My idea is to sue the club for reimbursement of dues plus punitive damages, sue the LSC for punitive damages for not following their policies and sue USA Swimming for punitive damages for not following their policies.

For most people, it's not about the money it's holding people accountable.

Any thoughts - I've never been to small claims court.

Anonymous said...

First of all, if you lose in small claims court, you could be ordered to pay attorney fees for the prevailing party.

Second, most comments indicate there is retaliation. You need a child who doesn't really want to swim to demand to swim unattached in a swim meet. But the top students, the ones who can force issues, don't protest as the children of the 60s did. The stakes are too high -- class rank, acceptance to the best colleges.

The LSCs implement the program, but I don't see a play aimed directly at the LSCs, and I'm a good strategist. I can envision problems trickling down from an IRS audit of USA Swimming.

Anonymous said...

Attorneys are not allowed in Small Claims Court, unless they are the plaintiff or defendant and are representing themselves.

Anonymous said...

The lack of attorney fees at risk is good to know. What would the claim be? What would the monetary damages be?

Anonymous said...

Each state may have different policies in regards to whether or not attorneys can participate in small claims courts. So if an attorney is allowed to participate, their fees may have to be paid.

People need to check their own states procedures.