Tuesday, October 11, 2011

USOC: No charity

USOC paid acting chief $1 million in 2009

In business-speak, the U.S. Olympic Committee is a not-for-profit organization.
Some non-profits are also charities.
The USOC is no charity.
It is a sports organization with significant business attributes -- the economics of the organization made plain yet again in the release Monday of its annual tax forms. The black-and-white forms, in their highly formalized and regimented columns and schedules, underscore the import -- the USOC in 2009 might well make for a graduate-school case study -- of the challenges inherent in finding the right talent and putting that right talent in the right job.
Because when the right person isn't in the right job, you get what the USOC got in 2009 and reported Monday in its tax forms -- extraordinary turbulence.
The number that leaps out from the USOC's 2009 Form 990, as the tax filing is called, is this: $1,006,336. That's acting chief executive Stephanie Streeter's total USOC-related compensation for 2009.
That's seven figures for not even a year's work. She took over in early March and was essentially done by the fourth quarter of the year, replaced in early 2010 by Scott Blackmun.
That's seven figures for a year in which, under Streeter's watch, the USOC a) botched the launch of its own television network, an idea since abandoned, b) endured considerable friction with the leaders of the national sports federations, known as NGBs, or national governing bodies and c) saw Chicago's bid for the 2016 suffer the humiliation -- despite the in-person lobbying of the president of the United States -- of a first-round exit in International Olympic Committee balloting.
Streeter's base compensation amounted to $401,045, according to the forms. She also made $46,633 in "other reportable compensation" and $196 in "non-taxable benefits." By themselves, those numbers are not remarkable, even for non-profits, particularly in today's increasingly intense and competitive business environment.
This figure, though, is the one that's simply jarring: Streeter was paid $558,462 in "bonus and incentive compensation." Based on that performance?
To know anything about the Olympic movement is to have known even before she took over last March -- in a coup that saw the abrupt exit of the former chief executive, Jim Scherr -- that Streeter was going to be a flop in the CEO's job.
In the Olympic scene, relationships are everything. But the number of people Streeter knew in the Olympic world, really knew, before she took over, having run a printing company and played college basketball? Would that number -- not counting the others on the USOC board of directors, on which she had served -- even reach into double digits?
Streeter's 2009 total compensation package amounts to 62 percent more than Scherr's 2008 total, $619,507.
And then there's this -- the USOC had to pay Scherr a negotiated severance upon his abrupt 2009 departure, $462,957.
Blackmun, in contrast to Streeter, is an experienced sports executive who had previously served the USOC as general counsel, senior managing director and then interim CEO.
Blackmun's compensation package includes a 2010 base salary of $450,000. Incentives could push that higher.
To focus solely on the $450,000 -- for that sum, Blackmun is an extraordinary bargain.
Blackmun makes about 10 percent of what some of the highest-paid college football coaches in America make.
He makes about half of what the incoming athletic director at the University of Michigan reportedly makes.
Blackmun, like an AD at a leading American university, oversees a budget with annualized revenues and expenses of about $150 million -- or, say, the commissioner of the mighty SEC, college's Southeastern Conference, which in its fiscal year ending June, 2007, reported revenues of $149 million. SEC commissioner Mike Slive's compensation package for that year: $1.8 million, according to the Birmingham, Ala., Business Journal.
Think about it this way: If you're an existing or potential corporate sponsor, and you're sitting down at the table with the USOC, don't you want the USOC chief executive to be really on it -- with an extensive business background, of course, but also seasoning in the exceedingly nuanced world of international sports politics? Of course.
Oh, and by the way: The CEO has to be comfortable assuming the organization's bully pulpit.
Blackmun brings all of that.
Frankly, if things go the way they should, the USOC's problem at the end of Blackmun's four-year contract is going to be figuring out how to retain him.
Everyone says they want stability at the USOC. Stability, to be charitable, has proven elusive -- with chief executives and board leaders coming and going too often over the past several years as if in a revolving door.
Four years from now is a long time away, and all kinds of things could well happen between now and then that could undermine Blackmun's standing.
But if, as seems likely, Blackmun and the USOC prove an excellent fit, here's some free advice: Pay the man.

No comments:

Post a Comment