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  1. #1
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    I have been asked to reprint Portia�s report from the AHSA/USET/USOC meeting o save people from having to search through the 14 pages of posts on the original thread.

    For those who want to read the entire thread: http://chronofhorse.infopop.net/2/Op...=865097438&p=1

    Portia�s reports are on page 14: http://chronofhorse.infopop.net/2/Op...865097438&p=14

    [quote} Report from San Antonio (Portia)

    This is the short version - I've got pages of notes with what people said.

    Here's the short version - The USOC cancelled the compliance review scheduled for today because of the USET filing the official Article 8 challenge to AHSA as the NGB, which is USOC's SOP in such situations (enough acronyms do you think?) But the USET (Bob Standish) had sent a letter to USOC saying that the USET and its athlete programs will be irreparably harmed if the Operating Agreement is not extended past its expiration tomorrow.

    So today turned into a hearing to find out whether the AHSA can immediately assume all the functions that the USET has been performing to get the athletes ready over the next six months of the challenge process. The USET asked the USOC to take over the functions of the NGB as far as athlete programs and dispursing money goes, or to officially give those responsibilities to the USET during the challenge period.

    The USOC Membership and Credentials Committee was delegated by the USOC Executive Committee to hear the immediate issue on an emergency basis and make a recommendation to the Exec. Comm. So, much of the materials each side had prepared for the compliance review became temporarily irrelevant and the only issues were (1) whether the parties would agree to extend the OA, which the USOC Exec Comm asked them to do, and (2), if not, whether the programs and preparation would be irreparably harmed if the relief the USET requested was not granted.

    Alan Balch explained that the AHSA could not agree to extend the OA because the USET is using the existence of the OA as the primary basis for claiming AHSA is out of compliance and that USET should be made the new NGB. David O'Connor and Alan Balch both asked several times whether the USET was going to stop funding programs and fulfilling the function for which it exists simply because the OA would no longer be in place, and the AHSA did not see any reason why the USET would have to close up shop as it is threatening to do. They operated together without an OA for 46 years, they can do it again. They never got an answer from the USET people, except that Jim Wolfe finally said that "the last thing the USET wants to do" is interrupt the athlete funding and programs.

    Both parties presented their arguments, Alan Balch, David O'Connor, Jim Wofford, Kathy Meyer, Kate Jackson, Peter Alkalay (lawyer), Ira Finkelstein (lawyer), John Boesch (development consultant - media, fundraising, sponsorship, etc.), and others for the AHSA.

    For the USET, Armand Leone, Eric Strauss, Jim Wolfe, Bonnie Jenkins, Robert Dover, Mark Leone, Mike Huber. and the Mark Piawar(?), CFO for the USET, and their lawyer Ed Williams.

    The AHSA's main point was that if the USET refuses to continue to perform its functions the AHSA has international staff ready to go and it has $7 million sitting in the bank ready to fund whatever programs are necessary, and it has passed a budget to fund and fulfill all the athelete programs. The AHSA emphasized that it wants a unified sport and that this is a great opportunity to develop a unified sport with increased sponsorship, and it hopes the USET will participate in that opportunity. However, if the USET continues to chose not to do so, the AHSA is prepared to and able to assume all the functions the USET has performed without interruption of athlete programs or services.

    The USET's main point was that it is the one who has funded and fielded the teams and it has the programs in place and the contacts and experience to be able to serve the atheletes, and the AHSA doesn't -- can't remember whether it was Leone or Dover who said the AHSA proposal was "all smoke and mirrors." Leone insisted that all the AHSA has is plans and proposals (pipe dreams, I think he said but don't quote me on that), and could not take over the USET functions.

    Alan said the AHSA can and will assume those functions, but how much the AHSA has to do depends on what the USET decides. He pointed out that the USET has known about the expiration date of the OA for a very long time but delayed until the last minute to raise this "emergency" for strategic reasons, the USET has caused its own problems. He said the USET is saying the sky is falling, and the sky is not falling.

    The USOC committee members asked various questions. It was very hard to tell which way they were thinking, the questions were pretty evenly divided challenging each' side's assertions -- other than that they really wanted the AHSA to agree to extend the OA so it would take the problem out of their hands.

    The athletes (O'Connor, Dover, Huber, and Mark Leone) met privately with the Committee for several minutes.

    The Committee met in closed session after dismissing the parties to decide what recommendation to make to the USOC Exec Committee, and they were going to keep it confidential and the word on the final decision would have to come from the Exec Comm.

    I have pages of notes with details, but that will take awhile to get put together. I wish I could give you something concrete, but we won't know until the USOC decides on the USET request for relief to avoid alleged irreparable harm - that decision will only be for the period of the challenge review, though. The USOC has appointed a hearing panel to deterimine the challenge, and that will apparently take about 6 months.

    Part 2

    A couple of more things:

    Not a lot of hard facts today, but one thing that struck me as significant.

    The USET got 40% of its entire operating budget for last year from a total of 7 people. Alan Balch mentioned that fact in saying that the sport can no longer depend on a few individuals and needs to develop a broad base of support. The AHSA proposals are designed to try to achieve that with a concerted and professional program to develop sponsorship. That's why the sponsorship consultant was at the meeting today.

    Another thing, the USET threw out some budget numbers for the money they say they have budgeted and have in hand for athlete programs; however, Alan Balch, Jim Wofford, and David O'Connor are all on the USET board of trustees and confirmed that the USET has not yet presented a budget for 2001. Apparently the USET has set a meeting for this week sometime to address the budget, but Alan Balch emphasized that the USET has refused to present one to the trustees up until now.

    Also, according to what David O'Connor said, approximately $6 million or more of the USET budget does not go to any athlete programs.
    Because the USET did not have budget numbers and would not provide them to the AHSA, the AHSA had to try to reverse engineer the budget used for athlete programs by interviewing various people involved in them. When the USET people said the budget passed by the AHSA two days ago to fund athlete programs would not be sufficient, the AHSA people said that it should be, but if for any reason it is not, the AHSA has the money in the bank to increase the funding to ensure that athlete programs are not disrupted.

    I'll give you more details tomorrow.

    PART III
    I checked back in, but this is the last time tonight!

    The issue now before the USOC is whether the USET's assertion that the expiration of the Operating Agreement will cause irreparable harm to the athlete programs and ability to prepare a team and put them forward for the 2002 World Games. The USOC does not have the power to force the parties to extend the OA -- it is a private contract and if one of the parties does not agree to extend it, then they can't force it to stay in place. Alan Balch and the AHSA were absolute in saying the AHSA cannot agree to extend the OA because of the claims asserted by the USET in its challenge to become the NGB.

    The USOC is to first decide whether the AHSA is capable of organizing and funding the athlete programs during the interim period while the challenge procedure is going forward and whether irreparable harm will occur. If the USOC determines that the AHSA is not capable of doing so, then it will decide whether the USOC itself will assume the responsibilities for dispursing funds and coordinating activities, or delegate that authority to the USET (as the USET has requested) and thus "preserve the status quo" until the NGB decision is made.

    The USET was complaining that its contracts with its coaches for the teams might be endangered by the expiration of the OA. The counsel for the Committee asked why the USET went ahead and entered into these new contracts with Mark Phillips, Klaus Balkenhol, even David O'Connor just last week, when they knew very well for many months exactly when the OA would expire. Armand Leone's response was that they "had to move ahead or fall behind," so they felt they had to get the contracts in place despite the uncertainty. Alan Balch said the AHSA believes that these people are committed to winning and to the US athletes, not to the USET individually, and the AHSA will ratify all of these contracts and support them regardless of what the USET decides to do.

    The USET eventually had to concede that its contracts with coaches like Klaus Balkenhol and Mark Phillips won't terminate when the OA does, and nothing is forcing the USET to suspend its funding of programs or stop its operations. Jim Wolfe explained the real problem if the OA expires is not that the USET will want to withdraw athlete funding ("the last thing the USET wants to do is withdraw athlete funding") or cease to be able to perform its functions, but that if the OA expired the USET will have to get together with the AHSA to work out new parameters for their responsibilities that were governed by the OA, and the USET does not like the uncertainty of that situation.

    David O'Connor explained that from the athlete's perspective, all of the USET programs for the next 9 months or so are already in place -- grants have been given, the arrangements are already made. The only way that would fail is if the USET decides to withdraw funding, and he can't imagine why it would do that since funding these programs is its reason for existence. The issues regarding the OA, therefore, are really issues of determining spheres of influence on an administrative level, not on a level that affects the athlete programs.

    The last question the committee asked was whether the AHSA would allow the USET to continue to perform "relatively unfettered" the functions it has been performing, even without the OA in place. Alan Balch said yes, absolutely, and it would be relatively unfettered. He could not say absolutely unfettered because of the duties the AHSA has as the NGB. But the AHSA sees no reason why the USET cannot continue to operate in the interim while the NGB challenge in being decided.

    The questioning from the USOC people was very evenhanded in challenging each side's assertions, and I honestly could not get a feel how they will decide. They are primarily concerned with the athletes and with making sure that the athletes programs are not disrupted.

    The USOC people were disappointed, I think, that the AHSA did not agree to extend the OA and thereby take this very hot potato out of the USOC's hands, but I think they are certainly sharp enough to know why the AHSA could not agree to do that. And I hope they are sharp enough to see that the USET is using this whole irreparable harm claim as a power play (that's my opinion, at least) and it has no intention of folding its tents on Monday and abandoning everything already in place.

    I liked the attitude of one USOC committee member very much, Cynthia Kelly who comes from the badminton world -- she specifically asked how this situation might affect the welfare of the horses.

    Oh, and there was a reporter there - a stringer from the San Antonio Star-Ledger who was there freelancing for "some horse magazines." He couldn't remember which exactly, but we will see some stories from him on it. He asked me for a little bit of background on what was happening, and caught on quickly to what the proceedings were about. I know he got a copy of the NGB Challenge the USET filed along with some relevant correspondence and the directive to the committee for what they were to do in the meeting, so that should be appearing somewhere.

    posted Feb. 24, 2001 [/quote]

    Thank you Portia!!!
    co-author of 101 Jumping Exercises & The Rider's Fitness Program; Soon to come: Dead Ringer - a tale of equine mystery and intrique! Former Moderator!



  2. #2
    Weatherford is offline Schoolmaster Premium Member
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    I have been asked to reprint Portia�s report from the AHSA/USET/USOC meeting o save people from having to search through the 14 pages of posts on the original thread.

    For those who want to read the entire thread: http://chronofhorse.infopop.net/2/Op...=865097438&p=1

    Portia�s reports are on page 14: http://chronofhorse.infopop.net/2/Op...865097438&p=14

    [quote} Report from San Antonio (Portia)

    This is the short version - I've got pages of notes with what people said.

    Here's the short version - The USOC cancelled the compliance review scheduled for today because of the USET filing the official Article 8 challenge to AHSA as the NGB, which is USOC's SOP in such situations (enough acronyms do you think?) But the USET (Bob Standish) had sent a letter to USOC saying that the USET and its athlete programs will be irreparably harmed if the Operating Agreement is not extended past its expiration tomorrow.

    So today turned into a hearing to find out whether the AHSA can immediately assume all the functions that the USET has been performing to get the athletes ready over the next six months of the challenge process. The USET asked the USOC to take over the functions of the NGB as far as athlete programs and dispursing money goes, or to officially give those responsibilities to the USET during the challenge period.

    The USOC Membership and Credentials Committee was delegated by the USOC Executive Committee to hear the immediate issue on an emergency basis and make a recommendation to the Exec. Comm. So, much of the materials each side had prepared for the compliance review became temporarily irrelevant and the only issues were (1) whether the parties would agree to extend the OA, which the USOC Exec Comm asked them to do, and (2), if not, whether the programs and preparation would be irreparably harmed if the relief the USET requested was not granted.

    Alan Balch explained that the AHSA could not agree to extend the OA because the USET is using the existence of the OA as the primary basis for claiming AHSA is out of compliance and that USET should be made the new NGB. David O'Connor and Alan Balch both asked several times whether the USET was going to stop funding programs and fulfilling the function for which it exists simply because the OA would no longer be in place, and the AHSA did not see any reason why the USET would have to close up shop as it is threatening to do. They operated together without an OA for 46 years, they can do it again. They never got an answer from the USET people, except that Jim Wolfe finally said that "the last thing the USET wants to do" is interrupt the athlete funding and programs.

    Both parties presented their arguments, Alan Balch, David O'Connor, Jim Wofford, Kathy Meyer, Kate Jackson, Peter Alkalay (lawyer), Ira Finkelstein (lawyer), John Boesch (development consultant - media, fundraising, sponsorship, etc.), and others for the AHSA.

    For the USET, Armand Leone, Eric Strauss, Jim Wolfe, Bonnie Jenkins, Robert Dover, Mark Leone, Mike Huber. and the Mark Piawar(?), CFO for the USET, and their lawyer Ed Williams.

    The AHSA's main point was that if the USET refuses to continue to perform its functions the AHSA has international staff ready to go and it has $7 million sitting in the bank ready to fund whatever programs are necessary, and it has passed a budget to fund and fulfill all the athelete programs. The AHSA emphasized that it wants a unified sport and that this is a great opportunity to develop a unified sport with increased sponsorship, and it hopes the USET will participate in that opportunity. However, if the USET continues to chose not to do so, the AHSA is prepared to and able to assume all the functions the USET has performed without interruption of athlete programs or services.

    The USET's main point was that it is the one who has funded and fielded the teams and it has the programs in place and the contacts and experience to be able to serve the atheletes, and the AHSA doesn't -- can't remember whether it was Leone or Dover who said the AHSA proposal was "all smoke and mirrors." Leone insisted that all the AHSA has is plans and proposals (pipe dreams, I think he said but don't quote me on that), and could not take over the USET functions.

    Alan said the AHSA can and will assume those functions, but how much the AHSA has to do depends on what the USET decides. He pointed out that the USET has known about the expiration date of the OA for a very long time but delayed until the last minute to raise this "emergency" for strategic reasons, the USET has caused its own problems. He said the USET is saying the sky is falling, and the sky is not falling.

    The USOC committee members asked various questions. It was very hard to tell which way they were thinking, the questions were pretty evenly divided challenging each' side's assertions -- other than that they really wanted the AHSA to agree to extend the OA so it would take the problem out of their hands.

    The athletes (O'Connor, Dover, Huber, and Mark Leone) met privately with the Committee for several minutes.

    The Committee met in closed session after dismissing the parties to decide what recommendation to make to the USOC Exec Committee, and they were going to keep it confidential and the word on the final decision would have to come from the Exec Comm.

    I have pages of notes with details, but that will take awhile to get put together. I wish I could give you something concrete, but we won't know until the USOC decides on the USET request for relief to avoid alleged irreparable harm - that decision will only be for the period of the challenge review, though. The USOC has appointed a hearing panel to deterimine the challenge, and that will apparently take about 6 months.

    Part 2

    A couple of more things:

    Not a lot of hard facts today, but one thing that struck me as significant.

    The USET got 40% of its entire operating budget for last year from a total of 7 people. Alan Balch mentioned that fact in saying that the sport can no longer depend on a few individuals and needs to develop a broad base of support. The AHSA proposals are designed to try to achieve that with a concerted and professional program to develop sponsorship. That's why the sponsorship consultant was at the meeting today.

    Another thing, the USET threw out some budget numbers for the money they say they have budgeted and have in hand for athlete programs; however, Alan Balch, Jim Wofford, and David O'Connor are all on the USET board of trustees and confirmed that the USET has not yet presented a budget for 2001. Apparently the USET has set a meeting for this week sometime to address the budget, but Alan Balch emphasized that the USET has refused to present one to the trustees up until now.

    Also, according to what David O'Connor said, approximately $6 million or more of the USET budget does not go to any athlete programs.
    Because the USET did not have budget numbers and would not provide them to the AHSA, the AHSA had to try to reverse engineer the budget used for athlete programs by interviewing various people involved in them. When the USET people said the budget passed by the AHSA two days ago to fund athlete programs would not be sufficient, the AHSA people said that it should be, but if for any reason it is not, the AHSA has the money in the bank to increase the funding to ensure that athlete programs are not disrupted.

    I'll give you more details tomorrow.

    PART III
    I checked back in, but this is the last time tonight!

    The issue now before the USOC is whether the USET's assertion that the expiration of the Operating Agreement will cause irreparable harm to the athlete programs and ability to prepare a team and put them forward for the 2002 World Games. The USOC does not have the power to force the parties to extend the OA -- it is a private contract and if one of the parties does not agree to extend it, then they can't force it to stay in place. Alan Balch and the AHSA were absolute in saying the AHSA cannot agree to extend the OA because of the claims asserted by the USET in its challenge to become the NGB.

    The USOC is to first decide whether the AHSA is capable of organizing and funding the athlete programs during the interim period while the challenge procedure is going forward and whether irreparable harm will occur. If the USOC determines that the AHSA is not capable of doing so, then it will decide whether the USOC itself will assume the responsibilities for dispursing funds and coordinating activities, or delegate that authority to the USET (as the USET has requested) and thus "preserve the status quo" until the NGB decision is made.

    The USET was complaining that its contracts with its coaches for the teams might be endangered by the expiration of the OA. The counsel for the Committee asked why the USET went ahead and entered into these new contracts with Mark Phillips, Klaus Balkenhol, even David O'Connor just last week, when they knew very well for many months exactly when the OA would expire. Armand Leone's response was that they "had to move ahead or fall behind," so they felt they had to get the contracts in place despite the uncertainty. Alan Balch said the AHSA believes that these people are committed to winning and to the US athletes, not to the USET individually, and the AHSA will ratify all of these contracts and support them regardless of what the USET decides to do.

    The USET eventually had to concede that its contracts with coaches like Klaus Balkenhol and Mark Phillips won't terminate when the OA does, and nothing is forcing the USET to suspend its funding of programs or stop its operations. Jim Wolfe explained the real problem if the OA expires is not that the USET will want to withdraw athlete funding ("the last thing the USET wants to do is withdraw athlete funding") or cease to be able to perform its functions, but that if the OA expired the USET will have to get together with the AHSA to work out new parameters for their responsibilities that were governed by the OA, and the USET does not like the uncertainty of that situation.

    David O'Connor explained that from the athlete's perspective, all of the USET programs for the next 9 months or so are already in place -- grants have been given, the arrangements are already made. The only way that would fail is if the USET decides to withdraw funding, and he can't imagine why it would do that since funding these programs is its reason for existence. The issues regarding the OA, therefore, are really issues of determining spheres of influence on an administrative level, not on a level that affects the athlete programs.

    The last question the committee asked was whether the AHSA would allow the USET to continue to perform "relatively unfettered" the functions it has been performing, even without the OA in place. Alan Balch said yes, absolutely, and it would be relatively unfettered. He could not say absolutely unfettered because of the duties the AHSA has as the NGB. But the AHSA sees no reason why the USET cannot continue to operate in the interim while the NGB challenge in being decided.

    The questioning from the USOC people was very evenhanded in challenging each side's assertions, and I honestly could not get a feel how they will decide. They are primarily concerned with the athletes and with making sure that the athletes programs are not disrupted.

    The USOC people were disappointed, I think, that the AHSA did not agree to extend the OA and thereby take this very hot potato out of the USOC's hands, but I think they are certainly sharp enough to know why the AHSA could not agree to do that. And I hope they are sharp enough to see that the USET is using this whole irreparable harm claim as a power play (that's my opinion, at least) and it has no intention of folding its tents on Monday and abandoning everything already in place.

    I liked the attitude of one USOC committee member very much, Cynthia Kelly who comes from the badminton world -- she specifically asked how this situation might affect the welfare of the horses.

    Oh, and there was a reporter there - a stringer from the San Antonio Star-Ledger who was there freelancing for "some horse magazines." He couldn't remember which exactly, but we will see some stories from him on it. He asked me for a little bit of background on what was happening, and caught on quickly to what the proceedings were about. I know he got a copy of the NGB Challenge the USET filed along with some relevant correspondence and the directive to the committee for what they were to do in the meeting, so that should be appearing somewhere.

    posted Feb. 24, 2001 [/quote]

    Thank you Portia!!!
    co-author of 101 Jumping Exercises & The Rider's Fitness Program; Soon to come: Dead Ringer - a tale of equine mystery and intrique! Former Moderator!



  3. #3
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    We're a slow moving lot Weatherford. Toddling on over [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

    Thank you and Portia for working so diligently. This is something everyone involved with horses needs to read, and ask questions about.



  4. #4
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    Wow! This should prove to be interesting. Thank you so much for delivering your up-to-date information!
    \"Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and, once it has done so, he will have to accept that his life will be radically changed.\" -- Ralph Waldo E



  5. #5
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    I am coming over here from the old thread. The quote below is from the old thread:

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> The USET people may read the boards as well, I don't know, but I would think they would want to know what's going on out there with the little people <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I would like to think so also, but I doubt it. As some of you may not know, (I posted on the other long thread), I sent back the funds solicitation request with a note saying that I was not donating any more money to the USET as long as they were taking their current stance (actually my exact words were "until the USET stops acting like a horse's patootie").

    I got a letter back from them that was basically a non-letter, but at least it showed me that SOMEONE had read my note and reacted to it.

    I encourage all those people who think that the USET is not working in the best interests of our sport to write them and tell them so, whether or not they are currently soliciting money or membership dues from you.
    I found the perfect distance but they put the jump in the wrong place.



  6. #6
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    A nice line-drawing chart, showing how the money that comes in from the "Big Money 7" relates to which horse and what projects and so forth.

    I'll sit right here by the computer until it appears (like on the old Etch-a-Sketch thingies).... Ha Ha Ha

    [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img]



  7. #7
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    Good job, Portia; that was great!
    Still Crazy After All These Years



  8. #8
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    Would you like us to bring you food and water ohnowwhat? Or maybe a cot to stretch out on? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]



  9. #9
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    There is a lot of good solid food for thought here Portia. I add my thanks for taking the time out of you busy life to attend this meeting and bring back such a comprehensive report to us.
    Originally Posted by Alagirl
    We just love to shame poor people...when in reality, we are all just peasants.



  10. #10
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    for all your hard work. This report certainly puts a lot of meat on the table. Hopefully the USOC representatives can see through the smoke screens being sent up by the USET group.

    Cheers, Maggi
    Cheers, Maggi



  11. #11
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    Portia and Weatherford, thanks for being so clear and concise. I also am glad someone thought about the horses and not just the selfish concerns of all the "horse's patooties"!

    I find that Big 7 thing really, really disturbing.



  12. #12
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    The stuff above sets the key things that happened. Now I'm going to go through my notes and give you as much detail as I wrote down. Probably too much, but some of you are just as maschochistic as I am (and no, Moesha, I don't mean you!) [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    The USOC Membership and Credentials Committee held a private session at 9:00 am. Right before the scheduled 10:00 am meeting,, the USOC staff passed out a short memo saying that the Committee had met and a motion was passed suspending the compliance review (whether the AHSA is in compliance with the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Ace and the USOC Constitution and By-laws) because of the USET's formal Art. 8 (of the USOC By laws) challenge to the AHSA's status as National Governing Body for Equestrian, and this was the usual practice in such situations.

    The meeting began with the Chair of the USOC Committee announcing that Sandy Baldwin, President of the USOC, has appointed a Hearings Panel (of USOC people) to determing the Art. 8 Challenge. The members of that Panel are:
    Bill Stapleton
    Steve Locke
    Herb Perez
    Lisa Boite
    Tom Osborn
    Jeff Benz, USOC Asso. Counsel, was assigned to assist the Panel.

    The parties made no objection to the members of the hearing panel.

    Herb Perez, on the Membership Committee and recused himself from further involvement, and left. The parties agreed that Jeff Benz, also a member of the Membership Comm., did not have to recuse himself since he will be acting as counsel to the panel.

    The USOC Exec. Comm. asks the AHSA and USET to continue the Operating Agreement until the USOC rules on the Art. 8 challenge. If the parties refuse, the Exec Comm has appointed the Membership and Credentials Comm as a proxy for the Hearing Committee to examine the claim of irreparable harm and determine the question of whether the AHSA can effectively fulfill the functions of the NGB for equestrian during the pendancy of the complaint (discussed in parts I and II above).

    Steve Sobel, Chair of the Committee, asks if there is agreement on the extension of the OA. USET wants to extend it, AHSA feels it cannot because of the USET using it as a basis for challenging AHSA's NGB status.

    Everybody introduces themselves. The members of the Membership Comm are:

    Steve Sobel (Chair)
    Gary Johanssen - USOC General Counsel's office
    Jeff Benz - USOC Asso. Counsel (formerly a figure skater, athlete representative to the USOC, and very experienced in USOC matters)
    Perry Towels - comes from Modern Pentathalon
    Marie Walker
    Kate Burton
    _________ Witty
    Jack Ingraham
    Tom Satrum - comes from curling
    Cynthia Kelly - comes from badminton
    mari Nankameyer - comes from soccer

    Representing the USET are:
    Armand Leone
    Eric Strauss
    Jim Wolfe
    Bonnie Jenkins
    Bob Standish
    Mark Piawar (sp?) - CFO
    Robert Dover
    Mark Leone
    Mike Huber
    Ed Williams, outside counsel

    Representing the AHSA are:
    Alan Balch
    David O'Connor
    Jim Wofford
    Kathy Meyer
    Kate Jackson
    John Boesch - Sports marketing consultant
    Deborah Bowker - Served as facilitator for the SPI, Communications consultant
    Michael Harrigan - consultant, helped to draft the Sports Act
    Ira Finklestein - outside counsel
    Peter Alkalay - outside counsel

    The only other people who were there were me and the stringer for the San Antonio Star Ledger

    The parties then presented their arguments. They were curtailed from what was planned because of the switch from the compliance review to the irreparable harm review. The AHSA went first followed by the USET.

    To be continued.
    "I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?" Dave Barry



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    AHSA Presentation

    The AHSA has a power point presentation, but goes through it fairly quickly since it was for the compliance review. Alan Balch discusses the strengths, assets, and abilities of the AHSA. The AHSA sees two alternatives, the USET and AHSA can join together to make a unified and strong equestrian governing body, or the AHSA can continue alone and do it all - which it can do without any interruption of services to athletes.

    David O'Connor comments:

    Equetrian is unique because for every human athlete you have another athlete, the horse, so they have to be treated as a pair of athletes in all respects. Also men and women compete on an equal basis against one another. and the human athletes competing in multiple Olympics is not at all unusual because of the time it takes to develop the requisite skill and technique involved in horse sports.

    Equestrian is also unusual because, unlike most other sports, once an athlete becomes an elite athlete, he or she continues to compete at all levels of the sport, because the athletes partner -- the horse -- changes. It's not like Michael Johnson who once he reaches the top in track and field only competes in the most elite events. There's an old saying that "a rider is only as good as the horse you're sitting on," and even the most elite athletes continue to compete at the lowest levels because they have young and inexperienced horses who have to start at those levels. So, the idea of a unified organization and a seamless route from the grassroots to the elite levels is even more important to equestrian.

    Alan Balch --
    AHSA fulfills the requirements of the NGB and has the capacity and capability to ensure no interruption or disruption of athlete programs.

    They showed a 3 1/2 minute long film showing the AHSA offices in Lexington, emphasizing that the AHSA has the infrastructure and personnel (over 100 employees) to do the job. Also, the AHSA is capable of getting things done on short notice, as the entire AHSA building in Lexington at the Horse Park took one year from conception to completion, and was finished on time and under budget.

    Kathy Meyer addresses the question of finances and how the AHSA can step in and finance the transition -- Her comments:

    The AHSA has changed in the last 10 years. It is no longer a struggleing non-profit. When it decided to move to Lexington, it did so in one year and was on time and on budget. The AHSA has substantial reserves, and a substantial investment portfolio. The sport is growing, and the AHSA has the financial strength to help continue to build and grow the sport.

    AB comments --
    The packets [the big filing from Feb. 15] the committee recieved has all the financial details. Another issue is international experience, and contrary to the USET's assertions, over 2/3ds of the people on the AHSA board have substantial international experience.

    A key role of the NGB is to protect the integrity of competition, the health and welfare of the athletes, and most especially the health and welfare of the equine athletes. The AHSA is the organization that sets the rules, does the testing, sees to grievances and discipline, and defends the welfare of the horse in court when necessary.

    David --
    This is not only a decision on the NGB, it is a decision on the National Federation for Equestrian under the FEI. The FEI is the international governing body for equestrian and it recognizes 7 disciplines, only 3 are Olympic disciplines. The sport has many cross-discipline issues. The first equestrian gold medalist, Bill Steinkraus, did not start out in show jumping where he won his medal, he started out in another discipline. There are many people who cross over from one horse discipline to another. So you can't divorce the Olympic disciplines or the FEI disciplines from other horse sports.

    The big issue for him has always been "did you have a chance to compete?" The AHSA offers that opportunity to compete to all people at all levels in all disciplines.

    AB --
    The AHSA is 80,000 athletes strong. Some are elite, some are developing, some aspiring, some hobbiests, some small children. But they are all equestrian athletes.

    Jim Wofford comments:
    He is somewhat unique in that he has spent his whole life deeply involved in both the AHSA and the USET. His father founded the USET, and he grew up in both organizations. When he [Jim Wofford] was AHSA President and Bill Steinkraus was chairman of the USET, they spent a disproportionate amount of their time dealing with issues between the two orgs. He is therefore a strong proponant of a consolidated organization to serve these functions.

    Unlike many other sports, equestrian does not have a high school and college structure for development of the grassroots of the sport to the highest levels. Instead, rather than the private school system, the AHSA is the structure for development of the grass roots to the elite levels.

    John Boesch, Sports Marketing Consultant --

    Marketing and sponsorship is a numbers game. While there are 80,000 members of the AHSA, there are over 2 1/2 million households with horses in the US. Coming to equestrian from other sports, he has never seen better demographics to offer to corporate sponsors, however, those "deliverables" have not been strongly presented to the sponsors.

    The transformation the sport faces here offers an opportunity for reshaping the perception of the sport. They need to examine the entire structure of the sport to determine common themes and appeals, then develop a consistent set of deliverables to attract sponsors to the sport as a whole. The AHSA is developing a unified marketing strategy with concrete benefits to attract sponsors who cherish the demographics offered by the sport [primarily females with disposible income] but who have never been approached before in an organized manner.

    Question from Sobel --
    The USOC received a letter from Bob Standish dated Feb. 22 saying the sport will suffer irreparable harm if the Operating Agreement is not extended. What is the AHSA position on that?

    AB -- The funds are available today. The AHSA passed a new budget after receiving the challenge to cover the new responsibilities for funding and fielding the athlete programs. The AHSA has a new $15 million plus budget, with over 2.8 million [not sure I heard that number correctly] for direct athlete programs, with money for each discipline.

    Benz -- How does the AHSA budget compare with the USET budget for this period?

    AB -- The USET has refused to pass a budget for 2001, so the AHSA can't compare. The AHSA therefore did research with people involved in each of the athlete programs and came up with an estimate of what is necessary and appropriate for the first year of a quadrennia. (Can't compare it to 2000 because that was an Olympic year.)

    David -- What goes to the athlete is the discipline budget. The AHSA discipline budget is equivalent to the USET discipline budget, and no athlete programs will be lost. The remainder of the USET budget, around $6 million, does not go to athlete programs.

    AB -- The AHSA can do the job without any interruption of athlete services or programs. However, it does not understand why the USET claims the athlete programs will cease with the expiration of the OA. As a Trustee and officer of the USET, he knows it is the USET's mandate to fund and fulfill those programs, and they did so for 46 years without any operating agreement. Those programs will stop only if the USET wants them to stop.

    End of AHSA Presentation.
    "I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?" Dave Barry



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    USET Presentation

    Armand Leone --
    The USET is here to ensure that athlete programs continue without interruption. The AHSA can't and won't do that. The AHSA is a horse shows organization; it puts on horse shows, it does not perform the functions of the NGB.

    The USET has performed the functions of an NGB for 50 years, funding and fielding teams. The USET is an athlete driven organization.

    The AHSA is not able or ready to take on athlete programs. THe AHSA has no athlete programs or funding in place, no discipline support staff, no coaches hired, no experience in training. The AHSA proposal is nothing but a concept based on the wishful thinking of consultants. If it tries to take over the athlete programs, it will fail. The USET is real, it is in place and the programs are in place. The USET cares about the athletes.

    Bob Standish --
    USET has the staff experienced in representing equestrian athletes. The key staff person is the discipline director for each discipline, who has almost intimate knowledge of its athletes and their needs. The AHSA doesn't have that.

    The USET has corporate sponsors for about $2 million. That sponsorship is in danger and the USET risks losing support from individuals if it is disenfranchised. It has an endowment program of almost $10 million pledged, and individual contributions.

    Mark Pilowar (sp?), CFO --
    The Team is financially strong. It has had excellent audit letters from the USOC and is the only group to have received 2 perfect audit letters.

    Benz interrupts -- We need to address the narrow issue of irreparable harm.

    Pilowar -- For 2001, the USET has budgeted $1.9 million for Olympic disciplines and $3.3 million for non-Olympic disciplines, a total budget of $4.6 million for athlete programs, which is fully funded.

    Jim Wolfe --
    The USET has a High Performance Plan for each discipline, including a high performance pipeline for riders for each discipline. He lists various development and training programs including for juniors and young riders.

    The High Performance Plan deals also with setting the standards for selection of teams, and those take time to put together.

    The USET also serves the athletes by hiring coaches and staff, and that is not done overnight. The contracts with Mark Phillips take months to negotiate. Getting Klaus Balkenhol is a real coup. They also have coaches for other disciplines, including David O'Connor for eventing young riders, and is working on finding an official coach for show jumping.

    The USET also arranges tours for athletes to compete abroad, which is absolutely necessary to international success. And the USET arranges corporate sponsorship for events like Rolex, who donates $350,000 for the Rolex three day event. The USET also deals with the USOC in [human] athlete drug testing programs and coordination.

    The USET people have established relationships necessary for preparation for international competitions. He books hotel rooms for athletes, coaches, and owners, and examines horse shipping arrangements.

    All of that takes time to set up and develop, and the AHSA can't do it.

    Mike Huber --
    He came up through the USCTA, which provides a clear path to the elite levels through its horse trials and three day event competitions to the USET. David is right in that the elite athletes do continue to compete at the grass roots levels because of the horses, and there is a clear path to the elite levels. [He does not mention that the USCTA horse trials and events that provide that clear path are all AHSA events]

    Bonnie Jenkins --
    She recites a list of USET programs and competitions, including the USET Talent Search classes in show jumping and the Equestrian Festival at Gladstone. [She doesn't mention that the USET Talent Search are individual classes held at AHSA shows]

    Robert Dover --
    As he grew up riding, he always dreamed of being a member of the USET. The AHSA was just a group he had to belong to to be able to show at the lower levels.

    As he read through the AHSA proposal, he kept thinking "this is all smoke and mirrors." It's all plans and proposals, nothing concrete or in place.

    It's a matter of trust and the athletes trust the USET.

    Armand Leone --
    They've heard from the people who do the work, not "consultants." The USET has the programs in place. The AHSA is not ready to take on the USET's responsibilities. The AHSA budget is not sufficient to fund the athletes.

    End of USET presentation
    "I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?" Dave Barry



  15. #15
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    that no where in the USET presentation did they deal with that issue of irreparable harm?
    and that they told less than the entire truth in many of their pronouncements.
    I sincerely hope that USOC members have their eyes and ears really open on this one.
    Mal:This is the Captain. We have a little problem with our entry sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then .... explode



  16. #16
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    Questioning from Committee.

    Question from someone on the committee --
    The USET says its coaching contracts are in danger if the OA expires. Why would the USET lose the coaches? Do the contracts say they can only work for the USET and no other organization?

    Wolfe -- Mark Phillips' contract does say that. Klaus Balkenhol's does not, but these guys are winners adn they want to work with winners.

    Benz -- The USET has known the OA expires Monday all along, so why did it negotiate these new contracts that extend well beyond the date of the OA?

    Armand Leone -- We had to move forward or fall behind. We had to prepare, these things take time and we have the World Games in 2001 to get ready for, so we had to take that chance.

    Benz -- The USET has known about the expiration of the OA for months, why did it wait until so late [Thursday, Feb. 22] to raise the irreparable harm claim?

    Leone -- It was not clear until the USET got the papers filed by the AHSA that the AHSA would immediately move to take over the USET functions and so it did not know about the risk of the irreparable harm. [This claim is based on a statement in the AHSA filing that if the USET chose not to perform the functions it has been performing, the AHSA was ready and able to assume and perform those functions at the expiration of the OA]

    Dover -- He thought that the OA would be extended and go forward, because at the initial SPI meeting David O'Connor strongly supported extending the agreement while the negotiations were continuing.

    David O'Connor -- Why is the USET saying that its programs will end when the OA expires? He sees no reason why they should do so.

    Leone -- Without the OA, the AHSA can take back responsibilities at any time, and the USET cannot live with that uncertainty.

    Benz -- Why does the USET think the AHSA budget for athlete programs is insufficient.

    Leone -- Because it is; the USET budget for athlete programs is much higher than what is in the AHSA budget that was passed but he voted against.

    Benz -- To the AHSA, what about these budget concerns?

    Alan Balch -- He doesn't know where the USET got these numbers because no 2001 budget has been presented by the USET. Alan and David and Jim know because they are trustees of the USET, and there is no budget. The USET has, however, finally set a meeting for next week, so maybe these are the numbers they plan to present then.

    The AHSA has $7 million in the bank, and with all due respect to Robert, it is not all smoke and mirrors. They do not have the numbers from the USET, so they can't compare them. The AHSA believes the amounts it has budgeted for athlete program expenditures are sufficient, however, should it turn out they are not, the AHSA will increse them. It has the funds on hand to do so, and will absolutely ensure that there is no interruption of athlete services.

    How much money they have to spend comes down to what the USET intends to do. The mission of the USET is to fund and field teams. Does it intend to stop doing that when the OA expires?

    Benz -- Is the AHSA is ready to perform all the duties of the NGB if the USET stops on Monday?

    Balch -- The AHSA has the infrastructure and the funds, and the people. It sees no roadblocks to keeping the coaches like Phillips and Balkenhol and O'Connor. He believes that rather than being dedicated to the USET as an entity, they are dedicated to helping the sport succeed in the United States.

    The AHSA currently has 11 people devoted full time to international matters. The USET has a total staff of 30 to 35. Every entry ever made for international competition for US riders has been made by the AHSA.

    David -- For the programs for the next 9 months, they are all in place and guaranteed, such as the awarding of grant money and the organization of the things to take place in the next 9 months. So unless the USET directly withdraws funds, all of that is in place and will not fall apart.

    Benz -- It sounds like the AHSA evnisions the USET continuing, or have you had any discussion about that?

    Balch -- We've had lots of discussions about it, and the AHSA wanted those discussions to start much sooner than they did but the USET refused to discuss anything until after the Olympics, even though everyone knew when the OA would expire. THe OA was extended to cover those talks. However, the AHSA cannot agree to extend the OA any longer because the USET is using its existence as the basis for its Art. 8 challenge.

    Benz -- Would you extend the OA if it could be done without prejudice to any of your positions in the challenge proceedings? Why can't you agree to extend the OA during the interim period of the challenge proceedings?

    Balch -- The AHSA can't see how it could be done without prejudice, except on a purely legal basis. The USET has no incentive to work with the AHSA to grow and unify the sport so long as the OA is in place. The OA is not the solution, and it has not led to a healthy situation or a solution of the problems between the AHSA and USET.

    Benz -- Can we work out something short of the USOC having to rule on the irreparable harm issues, because that is a dice roll for both parties.

    Balch -- The AHSA cannot see what incentive the USET will ahve to come together so long as the OA is in place.

    Sobel -- You're leaving us a choice between something old which seems to be working and something new and untried.

    Balch -- It depends on what the USET does. The AHSA does not see any reason why the programs and the USET cannot continue without the OA. Does the USET intend to stop its operations when the OA expires?

    Benz -- The USET seems to be concerned that there may be some representations and warranties in their contracts, such as with coaches, may be endangered by not having an OA.

    [The AHSA people repeatedly ask whether the USET will continue to fund athletes and programs without the OA]

    Benz -- [to USET] Explain to us why the USET can't continue to do what is is doing without the OA.

    Wolfe -- If the OA goes out the window, the last thing they are going to want to do is withdraw funding. But they will have to get together with the AHSA to work out new parameters for how responsibilities will be allocated between them. All that is currently spelled out in the OA.

    Cynthia Kelly -- What NGB functions does the AHSA currently perform?

    Balch -- There's a long list in the materials submitted to the committee, and he can't remember all of them. But they include sanctioning of competitions, international entries, grievances and discipline, governance of the sport on an overall basis at the national level. Prior to the OA in the last quadrennia, the AHSA handled many things themselves, and under the OA it has shared responsibility for some of them with the USET as indicated in the materials.

    Hopefully the USET will contiue to work with the AHSA, but if it choses not to do so, the AHSA is prepared to do whatever is necessary.

    Comments from Athletes to follow.
    "I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?" Dave Barry



  17. #17
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    Talk about smoke and mirrors. The USET is the expert in that illusion.

    I agree, where was their argument of irreparable damge? And, what would most of those programs be without the support from the AHSA. They admitted that they all belong to the AHSA because most of their events are AHSA. Without AHSA how would they ever train a young horse?

    They have promises for donations but that isn't solid. Would they have any grassroots without the AHSA. They have no physical assets, they depend totally on the good will of those who are willing to buy horses for them.

    Geez! where is a Bert Denemethy when you really need one? I don't believe for one minute that Bill Steinkraus agrees with their notion.



  18. #18
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    Forgot one question from the committee --

    Sobel -- So who is equetrian going to send to the next USOC Board meeting?

    Balch -- That's not completely settled, though they have proposed David O'Connor and they can't imagine why there would be any objection to him.

    Comment from Athletes

    Mark Leone -- He is newly elected to the USOC Active Athletes Committee, and he has reached out to the athletes in the sport to find out what they want. What's best for the athletes is to retain the status quo.

    Dover -- He liked the question about who was going to represent Equestrian on the USOC Board because his name was raised at the AHSA annual meeting, and the AHSA temporarily accepted the nomination [apparently along with others], but it has since become unclear.

    In his opinion it is all a matter of trust, and the athletes have spoken [through the USET vote and petition] about who they trust and that's the USET. If the USOC goes along with the AHSA it will cause tremendous division among the athletes.

    David -- The athletes' voice isn't really being heard because they have not been educated sufficiently to make a decision. He's received lots of calls from athletes asking questions. What the athletes are really concerned with is whether their programs will be in place and will the coaches and funding be there.

    The issue of the OA involves spheres of influence on an administrative level. It those issues are argued at an administrative level, he can't see why that would affect the athlete's programs.

    Dover -- The athletes may not know all the line items and details, but they know who they trust. From his experience, he has little trust that what the leadership of the AHSA says and what they do will be the same thing.

    Marty Nankameyer -- We haven't heard much about the horses. How do they fit into the spheres of influence, and their owners?

    Armand Leone -- Didn't get the whole answer - it had to do with the USET dealing with the owners of the horses, and Jim Wolfe says the horses are loaned to the team for the big international competitions so the team has responsibility for their welfare. Leone ends with, The owners support the USET; he doesn't know how they feel about the AHSA.

    Balch -- The primary responsibility of the AHSA is protecting the welfare of the horse and ensuring a level playing field and that the rules are followed. The AHSA has its Owners and Breeders Committee who advise and act regarding the needs of the owners and the breeders, because you don't get a horse without starting with a breeder.

    The AHSA has actively and vigilently defended the welfare of the horse. One reason the AHSA may not be so popular with some of the athletes is because the AHSA is the disciplinarian.

    Marie Walker -- HAve there been issues with the protection of the horses in the past?

    Balch -- Yes, then he mentions the horse killing scandals that involved some of the owners and the elite athletes, and how the AHSA defended its actions in expelling those people in court.

    Marie Walker -- But that wasn't an issue between the AHSA and USET?

    Balch -- Oh no. There have not been any issues between the AHSA and USET about the welfare of the horse.

    Huber -- He disputes that the athletes hold anything against the AHSA for enforcing the rules and being the disciplinarian; the athletes appreciate that the AHSA does that.

    Benz says that implicit in the request for provisional relief is tha tthe USOC has the power to grant such relief, and asks to hear from the lawyers on that issue, followed by a fairly technical legal discussion of the various provisions of the Ted Stevens Sports Act, the USOC Constitution, and the USOC By-laws.

    The athletes had previously asked to meet breifly with the committee in closed session without the parties present so they can speak freely. David O'Connor still wants to do so, so they retire to closed session for several minutes. followed by closing remarks from the parties.
    "I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?" Dave Barry



  19. #19
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    Closing Statements and Final Questions

    Armand Leone -- They have heard the positions of the USET. It is concerned about the athletes and the programs that are ongoing and in effect. The time is short and the USET has to get ready for the World Games in 2002.

    The AHSA has presented plans and proposals, not what can be done now. The AHSA cannot fund and field the team and keep the programs in place.

    The USET wants the USOC to take over the programs or delegate responsibility for them to the USET so that they may continue during the challenge period.

    Alan Balch -- The USET had known of the expiration of the OA for many months. The only way the USET is harmed irreparably by the expiration of that agreement is if the USET does it to itself. Asking to continue the OA as a strategic maneuver enhances the USET position in the challenge proceedings and prejudices the AHSA.

    The AHSA does not believe for a minute that the USET is going to fold its tents and go away on Monday. But if the USET should do so, the AHSA has international staff and a budget in place, and it is ready to do whatever is necessary.

    The USET is in no way disenfranchised by the expiration of the OA. The parties worked together for 46 years before the OA and tehy can do it again that way now. The USET request is a fairly cynical ploy, "the sky is falling," but the sky is not falling.

    The USET does not have a budget for 2001 yet, but a year ago 7 people contributed 40% of the operating budget of the USET. The sport needs to get away from dependence upon a few individuals, and needs to develop a broad base of support. That is what the AHSA intends to do.

    The door is open, and will remain open, for the USET to join together with the AHSA in a consolidated organization to grow the sport for the future.

    However, the AHSA is ready to go forward and ensure that there is no interruption of service to athletes.

    A Committee member asks again whether the AHSA will agree to extend the OA, and Balch says it cannot.

    Benz -- We've talked about what the USET will do when the OA expires, but what about the AHSA. When Monday comes and the OA expires, if the USET continues to operate, will the AHSA allow them to operate relatively unfettered?

    Balch -- Absolutely, relatively unfettered. The AHSA has duties as the NGB so it cannot promise to allow the USET to operate absolutely unfettered. But it wants the USET to continue to operate and fund programs and provide services.

    Sobel announces that the Committee will meet in private session and vote on the question of whether the AHSA is capable of effectively fulfilling the functions of the NGB during the challenge period and the issue of irreparable harm. It will make a confidential recommendation to the USOC Executive Committee who will then make a final decision and convey it to the parties.

    That's it -- end of meeting. I got the feeling the USOC decision would be made quickly, within a few days.

    Whew.
    "I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?" Dave Barry



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    Portia, that's amazing...what a great report. I may be seeing it in oversimplified terms, but the presentation of USET in my mind is sullen and churlish. They appeared to not deal with any of the "holes" in their situation (no budget, 7 people contributing 40%) and instead hurl the same few catch phrases (trust, etc) into the discussion which doesn't seem to accomplish anything concrete.

    The AHSA seems to have a plan and confidence in their exsisting infrastructure and to me the USET position was crystal clear in the exchange between Benz and Leone. When Benz asked why USET felt the AHSA budget for athlete programs was insufficient, Leone's eloquent response, "Because it is..." That was the argument my daugther used to give me when she was, oh, about 10!
    \"just remember this my girl, when you look up in the sky, you can see the stars but still not see the light.\" -The Eagles (song by J. Tempchin/R. Stradlund)



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