Off to Kiddieworld and down USATF rabbit hole of Hersh debate

USATF Prez Stephanie Hightower: center of storm

The USATF board of directors is meeting Saturday in Santa Monica on the eve of the L.A. Marathon, and I’m going to be in the room. They may consider an issue causing an uproar in Kiddieworld (what I call elite USATF politics). At the Anaheim convention, the board rejected M75 Bob Hersh as America’s IAAF Council nominee — even though he’s been there for many years and got 85 percent support of USATF voting delegates. Instead, the board voted 11-1 to replace him with W55 USATF President Stephanie Hightower. For a taste of the drama, check out the T&FN message board thread. I’m covering the meeting for Times of San Diego (which turned a year old today).

Lots of people, including masters star Willie Banks, have blasted the board for dissing the delegates.

Now add another.

Here’s a note from someone who wants to be known as “a parent, athlete, coach, volunteer, official, promoter and administrator very concerned about our sport.”

This person wrote me:

If the board does not turn around the decision, USATF will be even further out of the IAAF loop with resulting damage to U.S. prestige and influence.

My strong impression from many years of close observation is that the key to IAAF influence is INCUMBENCY!!! And Hersh, even though he promotes himself as much as U.S. interests, has to appear neutral and self-promotion is practically a requirement in the international politics involved. And he is No. 2 in the entire organization.

From what I have seen at many of the recent World Championships, Stephanie consistently has acted as an arrogant and ugly American marching into meetings like royalty and marching out in the middle with [USATF CEO] Max [Siegel] in tow. She only attends the IAAF Congress sessions sporadically even when important issues were being decided upon

The most recent Congress in Russia was especially bad. And she didn’t even bother to go to the Korean World Championships a few years ago, sending a very poor message to the IAAF and to the world. If past history is any indication of future actions, she would be a disaster even if she could get elected to the IAAF Council which is not a sure thing at all.

I am afraid that it appears that Stephanie just woke up one day recently and suddenly realized that she was going to lose all her privileges and PERKS at the end of her terms, and set out on a campaign to somehow retain them at whatever cost to the credibility of USATF and its administration.

I’ll live-tweet the meeting starting at 9 a.m. Pacific (if allowed) on my Twitter feed at @kenstonemedia.

Who knows? The board might even mention masters!

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March 13, 2015

4 Responses

  1. Alan Kolling - March 14, 2015

    Ken, you are a glutton for punishment!

  2. Bubba Sparks - March 14, 2015

    Not that unlike Anita DeFranz

  3. Ken Stone - March 15, 2015

    I posted a story and five videos from Santa Monica:

    One thing I’m looking further into — the announcement that “meet officials will be paid.” Not sure how much or which meets will rate pay.

  4. Doug Thompson - March 16, 2015

    I am beyond cynical about USATF. Would love an alternative, or to exercise a vote to change things, but that doesn’t look like it’s available. Would love to withhold my support from USATF but I do want to run in track meets. Since I am a good but not great runner I don’t have to worry about ratification of records, championships, etc., but just to compete in local junior college meets I must have a USATF #. I believe one alternative is the Senior Games – I don’t think they require a USATF # – of course their meets are generally not as well run but some are good.

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