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On the USET Trustee meeting

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  • On the USET Trustee meeting

    A perspective from Alan Balch as released this evening.

    I had an email from Alan yesterday in which he expressed his absolute heartfelt sadness that the SPORT is the ultimate loser here; even if "our" side wins, the sport still loses. I agree with him that that is a travesty.

    And I disagree in some respects, too. The changes that have happened at the NF have already benefitted the sport and will continue to do so. All of our discussion and involvment in the changes - from all sides - is a marked improvement on anything that has happened in the past. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to be involved in some form or another.

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> DATE: August 30, 2001

    TO: United States Equestrian Team Board of Trustees, National Advisory Council, Friends and Supporters

    FROM: Alan F. Balch, Trustee

    SUBJECT: USET Corporate Management and Governance

    On Tuesday, the USET held another meeting of its 2000 Board of Trustees in the wake of the New Jersey Superior Court?s finding that USET corporate actions this year were ?null and void.?

    The meeting was disappointing at best. Another opportunity to have meaningful discussion for the good of the sport was lost. Instead, we all heard some of the harshest rhetoric yet from USET leadership, marked by reckless personal characterizations and insistence that no matter the cost, in either precious credibility or money, the USET?s leaders are determined to waste even more of both.

    What we did not hear was any response to my call for us to discuss the product of the mediation, either openly or confidentially, so we could see how easy it would be to solve this entire matter of the sport?s governance, with both organizations retaining their historical corporate structures, identities, and roles. Please ask yourself why USET leadership instead insists on such strident rhetoric, and persists in its senseless USOC challenge.

    Also, please consider that there was no discussion about the leadership?s apparent decision over 2 months ago, disclosed for the first time in this meeting, to arrange for $2-million in borrowing and spending without even so much as a meeting to evaluate its reason or need. Nor was there any discussion about the implications and exposures of the announcement we heard that the USET International Competition and Training Endowment (which we have always been advised is permanently restricted) might apparently now be invaded to fund current operations, including the costly legal bills being incurred. Let us hope Armand misspoke when he said, ?we will have to use our endowment to sustain us.?

    Are these actions in the best interest of either the USET or the sport? Of course, they are not.

    Though I doubt anyone could have been persuaded otherwise, I want to point out that only a small fraction of the total legal and other expenses incurred by USET this year came about because of the lawsuit to ensure access of all trustees to the information they are entitled to see. The extraordinary legal and related expenses nearing $500,000 or so at this point come almost entirely from the USOC challenge, which was filed first, without the authority of the board or even the officers of the USET, and which act even was contrary to the corporation?s bylaws.

    So now we are at the point where yet a third ?annual meeting? has had to be scheduled, all apparently to serve the needs of litigation commenced by USET leadership. Try as it might to put the responsibility for this disaster elsewhere, the current USET leadership, and it alone, knows why this senseless tragedy for our sport is continuing, when the mediation has shown us the way for it to end.

    At the meeting now scheduled for 1 p.m., Wednesday, September 12, at Gladstone, let us all hope we will finally be able to participate in some definitive discussions and receive satisfactory information.

    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    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!
  • Original Poster

    #2
    A perspective from Alan Balch as released this evening.

    I had an email from Alan yesterday in which he expressed his absolute heartfelt sadness that the SPORT is the ultimate loser here; even if "our" side wins, the sport still loses. I agree with him that that is a travesty.

    And I disagree in some respects, too. The changes that have happened at the NF have already benefitted the sport and will continue to do so. All of our discussion and involvment in the changes - from all sides - is a marked improvement on anything that has happened in the past. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to be involved in some form or another.

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> DATE: August 30, 2001

    TO: United States Equestrian Team Board of Trustees, National Advisory Council, Friends and Supporters

    FROM: Alan F. Balch, Trustee

    SUBJECT: USET Corporate Management and Governance

    On Tuesday, the USET held another meeting of its 2000 Board of Trustees in the wake of the New Jersey Superior Court?s finding that USET corporate actions this year were ?null and void.?

    The meeting was disappointing at best. Another opportunity to have meaningful discussion for the good of the sport was lost. Instead, we all heard some of the harshest rhetoric yet from USET leadership, marked by reckless personal characterizations and insistence that no matter the cost, in either precious credibility or money, the USET?s leaders are determined to waste even more of both.

    What we did not hear was any response to my call for us to discuss the product of the mediation, either openly or confidentially, so we could see how easy it would be to solve this entire matter of the sport?s governance, with both organizations retaining their historical corporate structures, identities, and roles. Please ask yourself why USET leadership instead insists on such strident rhetoric, and persists in its senseless USOC challenge.

    Also, please consider that there was no discussion about the leadership?s apparent decision over 2 months ago, disclosed for the first time in this meeting, to arrange for $2-million in borrowing and spending without even so much as a meeting to evaluate its reason or need. Nor was there any discussion about the implications and exposures of the announcement we heard that the USET International Competition and Training Endowment (which we have always been advised is permanently restricted) might apparently now be invaded to fund current operations, including the costly legal bills being incurred. Let us hope Armand misspoke when he said, ?we will have to use our endowment to sustain us.?

    Are these actions in the best interest of either the USET or the sport? Of course, they are not.

    Though I doubt anyone could have been persuaded otherwise, I want to point out that only a small fraction of the total legal and other expenses incurred by USET this year came about because of the lawsuit to ensure access of all trustees to the information they are entitled to see. The extraordinary legal and related expenses nearing $500,000 or so at this point come almost entirely from the USOC challenge, which was filed first, without the authority of the board or even the officers of the USET, and which act even was contrary to the corporation?s bylaws.

    So now we are at the point where yet a third ?annual meeting? has had to be scheduled, all apparently to serve the needs of litigation commenced by USET leadership. Try as it might to put the responsibility for this disaster elsewhere, the current USET leadership, and it alone, knows why this senseless tragedy for our sport is continuing, when the mediation has shown us the way for it to end.

    At the meeting now scheduled for 1 p.m., Wednesday, September 12, at Gladstone, let us all hope we will finally be able to participate in some definitive discussions and receive satisfactory information.

    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    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!

    Comment


    • #3
      So sad ...

      Will the Court or the USOC eventually decide that the act of filing the Challenge was one of the null and void acts of the USET Board?
      Mal:This is the Captain. We have a little problem with our entry sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then .... explode

      Comment


      • #4
        I believe the USOC must (and will) confine itself solely to the issue of identifying and naming the sport's NGB - as far as I know it has no jurisdiction over matters such as the technical legality of the board who crafted the challenge which has been filed.

        However, I would have to guess that they are not blind to the legal issues which have arisen, and would assume that the recent NJ court decision cannot have made a favorable impression upon them.

        If in fact the USET has or attempts to utilize restricted funds from an endowment to meet expenses unrelated to the stated uses the of the fund, however, I believe that matter can and should be brought to the attention of the USOC officials, as it speaks to the ability of the USET to properly raise, maintain and disburse funds for the development and training of the riders they are charged to promote.

        It has to be said that in light of the not too distant scandals over allegations of corruption and undue influence in the Olympic movement, there must be particular sensitivity to any hint of impropriety - especially financial impropriety.

        Methinks the USET's actions will be difficult to defend, although I am sure with the resources they have brought to bear on this issue, it will not be for want of a significant, extremely expensive effort.

        I believe that Alan Balch is correct in his assessment of the loss this battle represents to the sport from a financial standpoint. $500,000 would go a long way to foster developing riders, improve training opportunities, or even <gasp> promote the sport to the public.

        However, I also agree with Weatherford that the dialog that has been provoked by this challenge is nothing but good for the sport. When times are (relatively) good, it is easy to be complacent and to make excuses for not getting involved and pushing for improvement. I do think that we will look back on this period of change as one that was a necessary evil in some ways... hopefully one that will result in a greatly improved NGB and a more engaged membership and audience.

        <end soapbox>
        **********
        We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
        -PaulaEdwina

        Comment


        • #5
          I heard about this bit with the endowment fund earlier this evening and was HORRIFIED. I cannot imagine a lawyer would believe this to be in any way legal or acceptable. That he would so breezily announce his intentions is even more amazing to me (I mean if you're going to break or at least heavily bend the law, you'd think you'd want to hide it more).

          In fact, the endowment is supposed to be only for the funding of athletes in competitions, and its use has been, I'm told, strictly outlined. The USET claims that without it (the USET), the athletes "will be lost" and thus they are justified in using the endowment fund to pay for their legal and operating costs. I find this morally dubious at best, legally reprehensible at worst. Were I an aactive athlete, I would certainly consider taking steps to file an injuction against my endowment being used up in such a manner.

          My dear, departed father-in-law gave to that fund every year for close to 30 years, because he believed in the virtue and important of equestrian sport. To think his money would be used in such a manner makes me ill. I'm glad he's not here to see it.

          Comment


          • #6
            If I were a USET trustee, I would be very, very worried about what Balch wrote.

            In a clever way, maybe too clever for his own good, isn't he saying that THEY are responsible if they look the other way? HE may be off the hook, since he keeps talking about it, but maybe he is not either? Maybe they are trying to force him to resign or something.

            Seems like whatever USET says now will be very important. They either have to deny they are going to use endowment, or justify it. I just don't see any other way right now.

            Comment


            • #7
              that by making that letter public, Alan Balch is trying to prevent the USET leadership from touching the endowment. If there is a significant outcry, then it is much harder to take such an action. No doubt this also makes an impression on the USOC, but I think they would have been made aware of any financial impropriety more effectively during the hearing process, so I doubt that that was the motivation.

              It appears the USET leadership is unused to working under such scrutiny and having their decisions aired "in the light of day," so to speak. The very strong impression that has been made is indeed one of an old boys club that has been afforded considerable latitude in the past - and frankly, with the past record of success, one might think that no one was looking too closely as long as the medal count was sufficient.

              These days, with the advent of communications media such as the internet, and the more litigious environment that we all operate in, it is clearly a whole new ballgame. As our sport's base of support is broadened and as we seek the support of those outside the traditional inner circle, more transparency has been demanded.

              Combine that with the escalation in costs as well as the changing nature of what has become in many ways just another business venture (vs. a sport of the wealthy) and no wonder there is dissent.

              We've created a friction point between the last remaining vestiges of the "old guard" and the new participants. Change is hard for everyone, and it is unrealistic to expect that those individuals who previously enjoyed their ability to exercise unfettered "authority" over Team activities would just smile and hand over the reins to those who would govern differently.

              I would think that one of the reasons that the annual shortfall in operating $$ is normally made up by personal contributions from the Board members is not (only) because they so generously wish to support the sport, but also because those checks purchase the right to maintain the influence of those individuals and avoid the necessity of reaching out to "the riding public" in a way that also requires disclosure and inclusion.
              **********
              We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
              -PaulaEdwina

              Comment


              • #8
                there will be no winners

                The total number of bodies laying by the road side seems to be growing. The damage that is done by all of this, loss of crediability for both sides, does not make for any winners. The time and funds spent in fighting will be costly to the membership as well.

                It's very sad to me that possible sponsors are seeing this. I know that changes needed to be made. But the means by which it has come about, won't have people running to their check books. And if that occurs, aren't we right back in the same situation?

                Comment


                • #9
                  I recall distinctly that when the USET solicited the donations to the endowment fund -- please give X amount each quarter for a total of X over 3 years, which I pledged to do and did do faithfully until the USET filed its NGB chalelnge -- it was for the express purpose of creating a permanent capital fund that would generate interest which would be a permanent, secure, and reliable source of funding athlete programs.

                  If the USET uses the endowment funds for regular operating expenses, and depletes that fund, I would consider it nothing short of a fraud on the donors.

                  Absolutely unacceptable.
                  "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

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If the USET does intend to attempt to use money from their endowment for daily operating expenses or this legal battle, I cannot believe this use wouldn't land them back in NJ Superior Court with yet another challenge by someone who contributed money - regardless of the amount.

                    I am also very dis-heartened to see that the meeting just past was handled in an adversarial manner and not moving toward some non-combative resolution to this conflict. This isn't some optional merger or acquisition - this is a mandated change by the USOC that will happen - structure as yet to be determined.

                    This is just such a sad, sad situation and the sum of wasted money that could have gone into the sport is staggering.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I attended the USOC Membership & Credentials Committee meeting in San Antonio last February over whether the AHSA and USET situation was in compliance with the USOC by-laws and the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act. The USET filed its challenge just the day or two before the meeting.

                      I recall that during that meeting Dr. Leone and the USET delegation, in connection with the USET's argument that the AHSA international programs were "all smoke and mirrors," made a big point of how the USET athlete programs for the year were all fully funded and that therefore such programs were secure. If those programs were fully funded back in February, what happened to that money? What did the USET do with the funding for the athlete programs that it said it already had in place last February?
                      "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

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        A question that's slightly off the topic... but when is the USOC supposed to decide all of this again? I hope it's sooner rather than later, before this fiasco gets even worse. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img]

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I just looked at the USET website (pretty pathetic - still has an application for the International Supports' Tent at the Sydney Olympics). The hearing is in New York on September 24-26 if I recall correctly. It also listed a second hearing about October 27 in Salt Lake City before the USOC board I think.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            From the Notice of Public Hearing:

                            In accordance with Article VIII, Section 3 (C) of the United States Olympic Committee ("USOC") Constitution, and Section 220528(d) of The Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, this serves as public notice of two public hearings to be held in this matter. The first hearing shall be held before the Hearing Panel appointed by the USOC President to hear the matter on September 24, 25 and 26, 2001 in New York, New York. The second hearing shall be held before the USOC Board of Directors on October 27-28 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
                            **********
                            We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
                            -PaulaEdwina

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              The Public hearings in front of the USOC are the 24, 25, 26 of September in New York City.

                              I do not have the details as to time and place.

                              See you there, sadly [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img]
                              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!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                does anyone know who attended?

                                ----On Tuesday, the USET held another meeting of its 2000 Board of Trustees in the wake of the New Jersey Superior Court?s finding that USET corporate actions this year were ?null and void.?

                                specifcally, did this include members that were tossed off the board in earlier actions? (or did that not include Trustees, only Board members?)
                                Nothing says "I love you" like a tractor. (Clydejumper)

                                The reports states, “Elizabeth reported that she accidently put down this pony, ........, at the show.”

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  see you there...
                                  **********
                                  We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
                                  -PaulaEdwina

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    This is from the thread reporting on what happened at the USOC M&C meeting, with the summary of what the USET argued then:

                                    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

                                    Here's the link to the whole thread if anybody wants to read it:
                                    Report of USOC Membership & Credentials Meeting
                                    "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

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Would just like to add that the USET can crow about its "athlete programs" all it wants ( per Portia's transcripts) but I had to laugh about its "junior and young riders programs" because it doesn't give dime one to the North American Young Riders Championships--the AHSA gives the most (and brought in title sponsor Stateline) and the USCTA, USDF, CEF, and Mexican Federation all make smaller contributions.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>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.
                                        <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

                                        It seems curious to me that they budgeted 1 1/2 times as much money on 3 non-Olympic disciplines - which would be reining, driving, and endurance, since they didn't add vaulting to their oversight until this last (now null) meeting. I don't see the rationale for spending more on those smaller programs than on the three Olympic sports.

                                        BTW - they can't get Balch to resign his position as a trustee at USET - it is an ex oficio position reserved for the AHSA president, whoever that may be.
                                        If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

                                        Comment

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