by Irvin Muchnick
Joel Stager, director of Indiana University’s Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming, has responded to our story earlier today, “Questions Surround $23,000 Grant to American Swimming Coaches Association From USA Swimming’s Wielgus,” https://concussioninc.net/?p=9535.
Stager’s email to me began, “No big deal.” I don’t agree, and I don’t think objective readers will, either, after reading the rest of what Stager wrote (see full texts below).
Let’s go over this again. The legacy of USA Swimming CEO Chuck Wielgus lies in disgrace – his induction to the International Swimming Hall of Fame rescinded within days of a devastating public petition by 19 or more of the sport’s scores of historical victims of unacknowledged coach sexual abuse on Wielgus’ 17-year watch. The activists go on to petition Congress. Further developments in Congressional and FBI investigations are about to break.
Without reference to any of this, ASCA assigns a guy in Texas named George Block to put together a special Wielgus tribute issue of the coaches’ association magazine. The article and its introduction, by executive director and magazine editor-in-chief John Leonard, break new ground in definitions of the term “suck-up.”
Using similar language, Leonard announces to his board in August that Wielgus “fast-tracked” a $23,000 research grant – which either is going to ASCA or, for some mysterious reason, is being brokered by ASCA on behalf of Stager and his Indiana institute. And George Block’s name turns up in both the ASCA tribute to Wielgus and the grant correspondence.
Stager says he has turned our further questions over to university lawyers. Concussion Inc. is not waiting to hear back — we are forwarding this series of articles to the Indiana University Office of Research Compliance.
STAGER TO MUCHNICK
No big deal. I was asked by George Block if we could (would be interested) in collecting and “reviewing” the literature pertaining to optimal training regimes specifically for peri-adolescent athletes. We have been quite vocal in recommending to USAS that before formulating opinions about anything… execute due diligence in terms of finding out what information currently exists. ” Dont hire scientists to invent the wheel until you find whether or not a wheel already exists. ” Finally, they took my advice. So… the issue became … when could we start? Given the constraints of the university system and such…. we’re already pretty much mid way through the semester… and if we (collectively) wait until the next budgetary period (for both the University and USAS) we would not be able to start the project until next July. This would give us a final product Dec 2015. In order to allow us to get rolling as early as Nov 1, USAS used discretionary funds so that when we ( staff and grad students free up Jan 1) are available to roll… there is no lag time involved. This was all nothing more than a mechanism for the project to get rolling in cooperation with IU, ASCA, and USAS. The issue is relevant and important to the swimming community at large. ASCA, in essence, has agreed to make sure that the project progresses…. in a timely manner and covers all the relevant bases for USAS… something USAS has no experience or expertise with (within this particular domain). We are not necessarily required to present any opinion on this matter… just our analysis of what the current literature states. I told George I didnt really care how it was handled… but made sure he knew our time constraints. And as Jerry McGuire so aptly put it “show me the money.” The University doesn’t operate on a negative balance! The University worked with ASCA to get this done in a timely manner and everyone has signed off…. nothing up anyone’s sleeve! Hope this helps.
MUCHNICK TO STAGER
Respectfully, this helps very little and hardly supports the interpretation “No big deal.” The ridiculous Leonard email speaks for itself.
Who was the grantor — USA Swimming, presumably — and why is a third-party broker necessary in processing an above-board grant application? Please supply the complete chronology and documentation. Otherwise, the stench persists.
I’m cc’ing Wielgus and Leonard.
STAGER TO MUCHNICK
Sorry… but that is not the way I as a faculty member nor others at major Universities operate. I resent what you imply and I did my best to explain what took place in this project. The Counsilman Center is an independent center with unaffiliated views. I have a sparkling academic reputation and in response to your email… I will submit it and any and further correspondence with you to Indiana University’s attorneys office. There is nothing nefarious down this road. There are actually a few honest people in this world.