March 6, 2015
Next week, the USATF Board of Directors meets in Los Angeles and has the opportunity to do the right thing and reverse its decision to nominate Stephanie Hightower to the IAAF Council.
In December at the USATF annual meeting, the USATF delegates voted at an overwhelming 85% clip to nominate current IAAF Senior Vice President Bob Hersh as the United State nominee to the IAAF Council. Then the USATF Board of Directors, in a sign of ignorance of what their role is, voted by an 11-1 margin to overrule the delegates, and nominate one of their own, Stephanie Hightower, to the IAAF Council.
Thomas Jefferson eloquently said, “That government is the strongest of which every man feels himself a part.”
A system which ignores 85% of the people is definitely not a system where every person feels themselves a part. That’s a system that needs to be reformed. Absent extraordinary circumstances, the Board should never exercise a veto over 85% of the delegates.
Lionel Leach, USATF Youth Chair, said it more succinctly when he told LetsRun.com, “The system didn’t work.”
What the Board failed to realize is that just because a system can do something does not mean it should.
In its explanation of its decision, the Board acted like the USATF delegates were not informed on what they were voting on. That is condescending, insulting, and untrue. Stephanie Hightower’s name was on the ballot. The USATF delegates, who had elected Stephanie Hightower as President of USATF twice, had a clear cut choice. Did they want Bob Hersh to be the USATF nominee to the IAAF Council or did they want Stephanie Hightower? 84.8% of the delegates chose Bob Hersh, 15.2% chose Stephanie Hightower. It’s hard to get a more overwhelming result in a legitimately held vote.
The Board with no sense of irony said by ignoring 85% of its membership and selecting Stephanie they was acting in the “best interests of the organization.”
The Board also wrote in justifying its decision, “As a board, we act as earnestly and deliberately as we can to advance the organization and the sport, with sensitivity to the consideration of all constituents but without being swayed by specific, special interests.”
The only special interests acting here are those of the Board in selecting one of its own. The constituents more than made it clear who they wanted.
Does USATF want to continue to be an organization where the members and athletes feel they have no voice?
The Board needs to think about what its role is and remember ultimately who it is responsible to, the membership of USATF. The USATF Board needs to nominate Bob Hersh to the IAAF Council.
We will be writing more on the Stephanie Hightower/Bob Hersh situation in the next week. Whether you agree or disagree with us, we would love to here from you. Email us at [email protected]