Susan Woessner is the “director of safe sport” for USA Swimming. She was named to this post following the 2010 report on ABC’s 20/20 about widespread coach sexual abuse of athletes, and cover-up of same.
Some readers of this blog think I’m coarse and harsh by suggesting she is vice president in charge of doing nothing. Whatever. Different viewpoints are what make the world go ’round.
What I know for certain is that last October USA Swimming hired another Woessner: Susan’s sister Geri. In Geri Woessner’s role as “Business Development Manager,” the organization announced, “She will be dedicated to working on revenue programs for USA Swimming, including sponsorships, merchandise, and licensing.” See http://www.usaswimming.org/ViewNewsArticle.aspx?TabId=1453&itemid=4800&mid=8975.
A critic of this criminally avaricious and incompetent U.S. Olympic Committee-authorized national sport governing body hardly knows where to start. But let’s start here: Did USA Swimming disclose that a newly hired executive staff member is the sister of another recently hired executive staff member? No.
Are there potential conflicts in the roles of “safe sport director” and “business development manager”? You tell me. While Susan attends to “all aspects of USA Swimming’s athlete protection policies, guidelines, educational programs, reporting and adjudication services, and other activities and functions related to USA Swimming’s efforts to foster safe, healthy and positive sport,” Geri is “dedicated to working on revenue programs.” Maybe there’s great synergy here: the Woessner sisters together can license criminal report forms emblazoned with the Olympic logo. Now that the FBI is investigating USA Swimming, perhaps they can attract the nation’s leading bail bonds companies as new sponsors, along with Speedo, Mutual of Omaha, AT&T, ConocoPhillips, and the rest.
There’s also the matter of how much Susan W. and Geri W. are being compensated for their unique and creative skills. As a 501(c)(3) charity, USA Swimming reports the salaries of the very top officials, but their IRS filings don’t reach that far down for the bloated front office staff in Colorado Springs. If I am reading the 2011 Form 990 correctly, their boss, executive director Chuck Wielgus, pulled in a cool $851,988 that year.
Susan Woessner, Geri Woessner, and public relations director Karen Linhart did not respond to requests for comment. I suppose I should be thankful that Linhart did not threaten to have me banned from using Google Chrome for the crime of committing journalism.