by Irvin Muchnick
Yesterday we reported that long-time swimming insider Brandon Drawz is out as executive director of the SwimMAC club in North Carolina. No one else has reported this, and SwimMAC boss David Marsh won’t confirm it. Our information comes from well-placed swimming sources in both North Carolina and Colorado Springs, home of the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Swimming. Drawz has been a board member and muck-a-muck with the latter.
The more you learn about Drawz’s Byzantine business dealings, the more you can understand why Marsh – who reportedly ordered Drawz’s company computer seized – might be taking his time with this little announcement. “BD” knows where the bodies are buried in this sport’s multitude of multimillion-dollar money-changing schemes.
While others focus on scams like USA Swimming’s wholly owned reinsurance subsidiary, the United States Sports Insurance Co. – conveniently headquartered in Barbados! – Drawz has specialized in squeezing dollars out of municipalities in order to build grandiose underused temples. There’s a reason almost all private swim clubs operate out of city- or public college-system aquatic centers: the numbers don’t pencil out for single-institution use. But that doesn’t stop swimming’s apparatchiks from getting ever more ambitious in their schemes with member dues and taxpayer dollars.
One of the important questions left by Drawz’s ouster is how it will affect a SwimMAC complex, tied to a Doubletree by Hilton hotel and conference center, which are being planned for construction, with backing from “special assessment district bonds” from the city of Mooresville, 30 miles north of Charlotte.
Though the name of the disgraced National Swimming Center Corporation (NSCC) is no longer used, the North Carolina project is clearly an NSCC operation in all but name. Corporate filings show that Drawz joined the board of NSCC in early 2011, months before he was publicly announced as its chief operating officer. He was hired by SwimMAC the next year.
In a string of failed proposals to mid-sized cities and towns that almost, but didn’t quite, buy the snake oil of NSCC’s now-jailed principals and would-be Texas developers Fred Yeo and Andy Sarwal, the company represented itself variously as a “partner” of USA Swimming, or the USA Swimming Foundation, or both. Another entity involved in the multi-site chicanery – which consistently provided for the municipality to deed public land to the developers, who then would use it as collateral for financing – was a Colorado company, GlobeVest LLC.
Of course, like the swimming entities, NSCC was a “nonprofit.” In 2013, Yeo and Sarwal were busted for federal bank fraud. (In order to secure a $39 million credit line, which was almost completely tapped out when they were caught, the two had falsely represented having $7 million in a liquid bank account.)
All this is why we longer hear the particular initials “NSCC” in connection with new swimming construction projects.
In 2010, the city of Cape Coral, Florida, on the Gulf Coast, had rejected an NSCC plan for an $85 million pool-hotel-convention center, after sinking tens of thousands of dollars into feasibility studies. City officials later likened the plan to a Ponzi scheme.
The Cape Coral prospectus listed Rowdy Gaines, the former Olympian who is now NBC’s swimming commentator and resides in Lake Mary, Florida, as an NSCC board adviser. “Gaines is often referred to as ‘Swimming’s Greatest Ambassador,’” the prospectus said.
Via Facebook and Twitter, Concussion Inc. has been trying to reach Gaines for comment. How he was compensated – or even just used – by NSCC, and how the U.S. Olympic Committee’s USA Swimming came to partner up with these shady characters, is a subject meriting Congressional inquiries every bit as much as the rampant sexual abuse scandals — on which “Swimming’s Greatest Ambassador” also so far has refused to comment.