USATF treasurer ‘sets record straight’ on Hightower reply

Ed Koch is the elected treasurer of USA Track & Field and one of the organization’s most respected leaders. He was re-elected by acclamation in 2004. In 1999, he won the Robert Giegengack Award, given annually to a person “who excels in contributing to the excellence and high standards of the sport of Athletics.” So when he speaks, listen up. And now he’s hot and bothered by a statement made by USATF president candidate Stephanie Hightower in an email interview I conducted last month. Stephanie isn’t a saint when it comes to USATF’s money, he’ll contend.

Ed wrote me this week:

I read the statements of the USATF presidential candiates in your blog. I noticed that when you asked for a response about Lynn Cannon’s recent comments, Stephanie Hightower answered, in part, the following:

“It’s important to point out that I have had no citations or been cited by the Ethics Committee for any violations with my budget, not any violations from the Treasurer Ed Koch or the Budget Commitee.”

Since my own name is being invoked, I have no choice but to set the record straight. Lynn Cannon’s statement includes at least one issue that directly involves Stephanie Hightower as the Women’s Track & Field Chair. That issue is committee overspending. Since some of the expenses of the Men’s & Women’s Track & Field Committees are interrelated, I’ll include both in this summary.
In 2004, the Men’s & Women’s Track & Field Committees vastly exceeded their budgets. Each of the two committees had a 2004 budget of $28,000. The Men’s Committee spent $74,536 — over double their budget. The Women’s Commitee were also spendthrifts expending $54,497 — nearly double their budget. When the staff at the National Office brought this to my attention, I instructed them to send the committee ledgers to all the Board members and asked that the matter be put on the agenda for the first Board meeting in 2005, which was in Boston.
At the Board meeting, I asked that the USATF procedures on committee expenditures be tightened to help prevent anything like the above happening again. The Board agreed.
Following the above Board meeting, the Men’s & Women’s Committee did a better job of staying within their budget for 2005 and 2006.
In 2007, however, several committees, including the Men’s & Women’s Track & Field Committees submitted reimbursement requests after the Hawaii convention that would put them over budget. A reason commonly given was that travel costs to Hawaii exceeded expectations. In most cases, the committees were within $2,500 of their budgets. (I should add that the Masters Track & Field Committee, to its credit, stayed within its 2007 budget.)
Bill Roe, Budget Chair Larry James, and I reviewed the 2007 budget variances for each committee. In the cases of the Men’s & Women’s Track & Field Committees, we granted each of them a waiver of $1,000 for the variance in recognition of the travel cost hikes, and “penalized” the committees for the rest of the overspending by reducing their 2008 budgets: $1,105 for the Men’s Committee, and $293 for the Women’s Committee.
Earlier this year, the USATF Audit Committee and I discussed ways to make committee expenditures more transparent. Following those discussions, I authorized posting the USATF committee ledgers on the USATF website, so that all committee members can now see what their committees are spending.
The first four months of 2008 are now up and we hope to get the next four months up soon. On the USATF website, click the “About” link, then click the “Committees” link, and then click the “Financials” link. (Here is the link.)

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November 12, 2008

2 Responses

  1. Ken Stone - November 14, 2008 message board carries some provocative comments on this issue:

  2. Adam Jacobs - November 14, 2008

    Great research and work on this Ken! Thanks for your efforts.

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