Scott Blackmun Resigns As Head Of U.S. Olympic Committee Amid Pressure From Larry Nassar Case
Scott Blackmun is abandoning his post as chief executive of the U.S. Olympic Commitee amid growing pressure from the case involving former gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.
US Olympic CommitTee chief resignation news
Nassar has been sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing more than 150 female athletes over the past nine years.
Blackmun was held in high esteem and considered a stabilizing person in an organization long fraught with messy leadership. However, following criticism of the USOC’s handling of Nassar’s crimes, led at least two U.S. senators, about 30 former Olympians, athletes’ representatives and child advocacy experts to call for Blackmun to step down.
Blackmun had served as USOC head since 2010, and in January announced that he had prostate cancer, a diagnosis that prevented him from attending the recent Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Following a long case in January that included harrowing victim statements during hearings and a conviction for Nassar, Blackmun demanded resignations from the entire board of USA Gymnastics, and the members complied within days. The head of USA Gymnastics had resigned last March.
Larry Probst, the chairman of the Olympic Committee’s board, said in a press conference before the Pyeongchang Games that Blackmun would keep his job — for which he was paid $1 million in 2016 — until the organization had completed an independent investigation of its own actions in the Nassar case.
Probst stated Wednesday that Blackmun was resigning due to his health. Aside from the change in leadership, the USOC noted it would also increase funding for Nassar’s victims, as well as a plan to re-evaluate the basic governance structure of American Olympic sports.
“The USOC is at a critical point in its history,” Mr. Probst said in a statement. “The important work that Scott started needs to continue and will require especially vigorous attention in light of Larry Nassar’s decades-long abuse of athletes affiliated with USA Gymnastics.”
The Nassar scandal also affected Michigan State University, the doctor’s former employer. Both MSU’s president and athletic director resigned in late January amid increasing state and federal probes into how much and how long the university knew of Nassar’s misconduct.
Susanne Lyons, a former VISA executive who has been on the committee’s board since 2010, will serve as acting chief executive until a permanent head is found, the USOC said.