U.S.O.C.’s New Chief Executive: Sarah Hirshland

U.S.O.C.’s New Chief Executive: Sarah Hirshland


The United States Olympic Committee on Thursday named a new chief executive to succeed Scott Blackmun, who stepped down under pressure in February as the organization faced escalating pressure in the aftermath of the Nassar gymnastics sex abuse case.

The group’s new leader is Sarah Hirshland, an executive with the United States Golf Association.

Mr. Blackmun and the U.S.O.C. encountered heavy criticism after athletes and lawmakers said the organization did not intervene despite learning about possible sexual misconduct by Dr. Lawrence G. Nassar in the summer of 2015, a year before the accusations became public. At least two Olympic gymnasts have sued the U.S.O.C. for its handling of the Nassar case.

Susanne Lyons had been serving as interim director since Mr. Blackmun’s resignation.

Ms. Hirshland was the U.S.G.A.’s chief commercial officer, in charge of merchandising, communication and marketing. Before that she was an executive at Wasserman Media Group, the talent agency and sports-marketing company whose founder, Casey Wasserman, led the bid for Los Angeles to host the Summer Olympics and is chairman of the group that will run the 2028 Games.

“Olympic and Paralympic sport in the United States must be a shining example, able to provide athletes with the benefits of participation in an environment free from abuse of any kind,” Ms. Hirshland said in a statement.

The U.S.O.C. had defended its actions in the Nasser case, saying it followed proper procedures and deferred to law enforcement. But The New York Times identified at least 40 girls and women who said that Dr. Nassar molested them between July 2015 and September 2016, when he was exposed publicly by The Indianapolis Star.

The Olympic committee has taken the position that it is responsible for athletes only from when they are named to the Olympic team to the end of the Games.

Dr. Nasser has been sentenced for multiple sex crimes and is very likely to spend the rest of his life in prison. His case also led to the resignation of Steve Penny, the head of U.S.A. Gymnastics, as well as the chairman and entire board of directors of the organization. It also prompted the resignation of Lou Anna Simon, the president of Michigan State, where Dr. Nassar worked and where he sexually abused many of his patients.

“The U.S.O.C. is at a critical time in its history and requires an energetic, creative and inspiring leader who is capable of building on past success while making sure that the athletes we serve are protected, supported and empowered in every possible way,” said the Olympic committee’s chairman, Larry Probst.



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