by Irvin Muchnick and Tim Joyce
As Congressman George Miller and his staff proceed with their investigation of USA Swimming, there will be natural pauses — such as the wait for a report Miller has requested from the Government Accountability Office on how existing statutes impact sex abuse reporting requirements in sports programs.
In the meantime, let’s not allow swimming’s $200,000-a-year public relations and lobbying campaign to bore us to death in anticipation of an “independent review” of its “safe sport” program that won’t be released until early 2014. Instead, let’s continue to educate ourselves in what the lords of the pools have been pulling off with their Barbados-based subsidiary, the “United States” Sports Insurance Company.
As explained in the last installment, USSIC was started by USA Swimming in 1988 in response to surging policy premiums from its regular insurance carriers, and burgeoned to assets of well over $20 million.
The next important date in the evolution of the national governing body’s (NGB) defenses against abuse and other claims is 1999. That was the year the U.S. Olympic Committee told swimming, in writing, that it could no longer use the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center facilities. The reason was that USA Swimming was the only NGB without appropriate insurance coverage.
The risk manager for the USOC explained all this bluntly to USA Swimming’s consultant, Risk Management Services. On May 3, 1999, RMS senior vice president Sandy Blumit forwarded these notes to the USSIC board:
“[USOC] mandates innocents should be protected by their NGB. Therefore, can’t delete abuse and molestation [coverage].”
As a consequence, USOC “would not allow any local members clubs, volunteers or members on premises (training center).”
Two days later, USOC was advised that swimming was deleting the exclusion for abuse/molest coverage, and they were allowed back at the training center.
In future installments of this series we’ll have more on:
– The calculated distinctions between USA Swimming’s coverage and that provided to member clubs.
– The so-called “wasting” provision in the coverage, designed to frustrate victims from collecting anything close to adequate compensation.
– Warnings by experts (including Jack Swarbrick, current athletic director at Notre Dame) that swimming’s accumulation of sex abuse claims was a ticking time bomb.