Alisa Harvey courageously dissents in USATF vs. Youth EC case

Final ruling, including Alisa’s dissent. (PDF)

Last May, USATF HQ suspended Chairman Lionel Leach of the USATF Youth Executive Committee and his entire panel. It didn’t involve us, so I didn’t report on the firestorm that ensued. But now that a National Athletics Board of Review panel has reinstated 12 members of the YEC (everyone but Lionel), it’s worth noting that a dissent was made. It came from W50 middle-distance star Alisa Harvey, who argued that Lionel should have been reinstated, too, and Indy messed up bigly. I wrote her, asking how she got involved in this high-profile case. She graciously replied: “I was chosen at random I believe because I was once the Potomac Valley Association Masters LDR Chair, back in 2013 and 2014. I received an email from Sarah Austin in the legal office of USATF one day last May. I said, ‘Yes,’ and things proceeded from there. I had no idea what the case would be. This was my first National Athletics Board of Review (NABR) Panel.”

Alisa continued:

I have zero background in arbitration. I have no legal education, just a college degree in Speech Communication (BA). This case took multiple months. There were a total of four days of hearings — three in-person and one teleconference. I read through dozens of legal documents. I was one of three panel members [along with John Bahakel and Jeff Porter.]

She says she wanted her opinion to be known. “I just wish that I had the legal expertise to make a stronger statement,” she wrote me.

Strangely, USATF has posted the panel ruling — but not Alisa’s six-page dissent.

I downloaded the nearly 2,000-word dissent from a leaker on Facebook. (God bless ’em.) Here’s the conclusion:

All USATF volunteer members should expect to be treated fairly and ethically by the National Office. Any disciplinary process that might develop within USATF in the future must follow a clearly defined set of procedures that will ensure that the rights of volunteer staff members are not violated and their ideas and views are respected. Open communication coming from the Executives at USATF can prevent future grievances. Care should be taken to ensure that USATF Executives do not abuse the power of their positions by creating unfair discipline and mistreatment of their volunteers in order to silence dissenting voices. The USATF vs. Lionel Leach and the YEC grievance illustrates the necessity for the USATF National Office to engage in empathetic and fair discipline with its volunteer staff at all times.

Methinks Alisa did masters proud with her role in this demanding and onerous chore.

Here’s the case as described on Facebook:

Twelve Youth Executive Committee Members Exonerated

After nearly nine months of costly litigation, USATF Track & Field (USATF) was ordered by an internal Grievance Panel to fully reinstate 12 members of the Youth Executive Committee.
The ruling came after USATF summarily suspended the entire committee — without notice or an opportunity to be heard—on May 25, 2016, for protesting the National Office’s selection of an online registration provider for Youth National Championships without any input from the Youth Committee.

The 12 Youth Executive Committee members (Ron Mascarenas, Kenneth Ferguson, Dorothy Dawson, Linda Ellis, Linda Phelps, Norine Richardson, Henry McCallum, David Reinhardt, Inez Finch, Marc Jones, Mary Elizabeth Aude, and Jacqueline White) are fully reinstated. The Grievance Panel found that USATF had failed to prove its case against each of them.

Despite the Grievance Panel’s ruling, USATF continues its civil suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana seeking money damages based on the same allegations.
Due to the frivolous nature of USATF’s civil suit, USATF may be responsible to the volunteers for their fees, costs, and other penalties.

USATF recently moved to dismiss its claims against Richardson, McCallum, and Dawson. The Court will now determine if USATF must pay these individuals’ costs associated with the litigation brought by USATF.

The Panel suspended Lionel Leach, the former Chair of the Youth Executive Committee, for an additional 97 days, until May 24, 2017. Leach intends to appeal his suspension.

The Panel also found that the USATF National Office is responsible for managing all commercial aspects of USATF, a fact that was never disputed by Leach or any of the Committee members.

The Panel denied the remainder of the grievance against Leach, finding that USATF failed to follow USATF Article 18-I, which requires that the contents of all contracts affecting sports committees be communicated to the committees during the negotiation phase.

USATF Regulation 15 places jurisdiction of all youth competitions with the Youth Executive Committee. This Regulation was passed by the membership of USATF and is the subject of an action for Declaratory Judgment in the Indiana District Court case.

Print Friendly

March 8, 2017

2 Responses

  1. Alisa Harvey - March 9, 2017

    Ken, Thank you for posting my Dissenting Opinion. Your journalism is valuable, as always. People need to know the facts.

    More respect from USATF should have been given to these 13-YEC members; they are lawyers, a judge, a nurse, mentors, teachers, a computer specialist, a college professor, USATF officials and coaches.

  2. Byrke Beller - March 12, 2017

    bigly is not a word Ken.
    Alisa nailed it IMO…they should have listened to her.

Leave a Reply