The End of a Kerry

We’ll always have all the empowerment.

Yes, the longest nine months in the history of the human timeline (it was only NINE MONTHS) are finally over. The USOC has forced Kerry Perry to resign her position as CEO of USA Gymnastics. It’s a massive relief to everyone, including Kerry Perry herself I’m sure.

Kerry Perry’s brief tenure will be remembered (barely) for Perry seeming totally unprepared for and overmatched by the task presented to her. At a time when USA Gymnastics needed forthright, confident, and rapid change—a clear, drastic plan laid out and followed by someone willing to look like the enemy to the stodgy, hidebound gymnastics oligarchy—it instead got the wishy-washy figure cut by Kerry Perry, one that quickly descended into self-parody with each unconvincing burble of nonsensical pseudo-inspirational tropes and self-help maxims. It was the Pinterest Presidency.

As was continually remarked about Kerry Perry, the worst of it wasn’t her fault. She wasn’t even associated with the organization until the very end of 2017, and yet she constantly behaved like a guilty party. Whether it was misleading Congress about NDAs or the as-yet-nonexistent Athlete Task Force, feigning “little ol’ me?” ignorance about every possible thing, or inexplicably protecting the job of Ron Galimore, Perry made the choice to associate herself with the worst that USAG had to offer. She could have fully cleaned house upon arrival and separated herself from the sulfur of her predecessor, but she did not. Instead, protecting the organization legally by never conceding even a shred of wrongdoing was the only rule of this game. It may be pragmatic, but that doesn’t mean it’s not gross. 

At the beginning of Perry’s tenure, there were hints of optimism. She did listen to Simone and did close the ranch—which provided an encouraging contrast to a previous administration that would have done nothing except vilify Simone as “ungrateful” as it did to many others who dared to have opinions and experiences. But as we learned more, the closing of the ranch simply came to typify Perry’s chaotic and reactive leadership style. The move was made only in response to negative press and wouldn’t have happened otherwise (a theme) and was rushed through without foresight and without informing all the concerned parties.

Whether it was closing the ranch in the midst of a developmental camp or waiting months and months to choose to fire Rhonda Faehn, and then doing it right in the middle of a national team camp that Rhonda was running, there was no consistency or timeliness in the decisions made, even when the actual decisions could be justified.

If you were going to do that, THEN DO IT. Right from the start. With a plan. Not because it seemed like the best-looking decision on the day. And who knows what will happen tomorrow?

Perry’s USAG always seemed 6 kilometers behind, and the race was a 5K. Even last week, the decision to ban Kathie Klages—just after she was arrested—highlighted that patented USAG mission statement to always take action…right after it might have been helpful.

It was the bungling of the Mary Lee Tracy appointment, however, that best represents the current era of USA Gymnastics and ultimately last-straw-ed Perry to the great scarf factory in the sky. By hiring MLT, someone whose public statements have made her a standard-bearer for an ignorant and intractable US gymnastics community built on patronage over professionalism and coaches over athletes, USAG once again displayed its inexcusable insularity. How could you not have known about MLT’s past comments? How could you not have known much anger this would produce? How could you not have prepared for that? Have you been paying any attention?

The appointment shouldn’t have been made in the first place, but by asking MLT to resign just three days later, Perry’s USAG proved itself once again to be concerned only with image, haphazardly reacting to a negative press landscape that it should have been prepared for, but wasn’t. No research, no standards, no plan. Only running around in circles, reacting to loud noises. Why are they always so surprised?

So now, USAG is once again left without a CEO, and the search begins anew. Do we have any confidence that the next prisoner at the bar will do any better? Of course not. You would have to be insane to want this job. We will assume the worst, and we will not give you a chance. Welcome to USAG, you’ll have to earn any positive consideration you get. You’re starting position is the bottom of the pit.

But someone is going to take that job. Hopefully, someone angry. With experience in crisis management. Someone who outlines a clear and consistent public plan of investigation and consequences before taking any actions, and then sticks to that plan. And who never, ever says “empowerment” again.

60 thoughts on “The End of a Kerry”

  1. You could replace her with the Pope and people would complain….Uhhh…Maybe a bad example….Never mind.

    1. The only problem is Aly is not qualified for the position at this point in her life. She’s only 24 and needs A LOT move sports administration experience (did she even coach or help run the gymnastics gym in Boston?).

      Time for the Baby Boomer to retire and for Gen Xers to rule.

  2. It’ll be nearly impossible to find a new CEO who can offer everything that’s needed. If you hire a complete outsider, you end up with someone who hasn’t experienced or lived in the unique gymnastics world. If you hire an insider, you end up with someone inextricably linked to the mess we have now.

    Kerry Perry was not the person for the job, but I do hope the alarmingly few good decisions she did make will set up someone to blast forward and do what needs to be done.

    A good litmus interview question would be “will you fire Tom Forster day one.” If the answer is anything but “yes” then move to the next candidate.

    1. So Tom says one semi-problematic thing on Facebook and now he has to go too? Actions speak louder than words, and he’s done a heck of a lot more for the athletes than all the empty words from nearly everyone else at USAG. The last thing these gymnasts need is yet another NTC shakeup.

      1. That was not… exactly… semi problematic. That was like straight non-chill-filtered double-distilled problematic.

    1. I think the only “asking Aly” should be of her opinion of the new CEO, not of her actually being the new CEO. She has said herself she wouldn’t know what to do. That will never happen because of the legal strategy that USAG has decided to pursue. But it should.

  3. IMO, these lawsuits needed to be settled ASAP. While I’ve agreed that KP needed to go after the first congressional hearing (I watched it and was completely disgusted with her non-answer answers and her ignorance about past complaints), I do understand how the lawyers and possibly board could/would react if anything was said to admit fault.

    Therefore, I believe that before anything else gets done, the new CEO needs to make the lawsuit a priority. It needs to be settled as if 2016 so USAG can officially move on.

    1. Yes to this a thousand times. Not settling the lawsuits is the biggest problem that USAG has. And I think that it’s possible it they promised to make real changes, they could actually get out of this without that much money now. Probably a lot less than they have spent on lawyers.

      1. After watching Rhonda’s testimony and listening to the Aly and Lynn Raisman episode on Gymcastic, I seriously don’t understand how former employees haven’t been served with lawsuits.

      2. Settling the lawsuits is also going to be USAG’s biggest problem, because if the settlement reached is anywhere close to the value of the Mich State settlement, USAG, the net worth of which is about $30 mil iirc, will immediately be in debt for some 17x what they’re worth. I have not advocated decertification or dissolve/reform at any point during this (because 1. there are thousands of lower level athletes across the country who need continuity and 2. the problem is the culture in the sport and putting a new name on the federation is not anywhere near enough to change it – the same people are still gonna be in positions of influence because they know how to coach gymnastics and their peers respect them; they have to go through some soul searching, and I don’t know how to legislate that into existence) but it’s looking more and more like the financial situation may make it happen anyway. I just really hope that some governing body can be operational so that the athletes (at all levels) don’t opportunities because of an abrupt end to their season.

    1. 1980 US Olympian, multi-time national floor and vault champ, and the first African-American Olympic gymnast. Currently the CEO or COO of the USAG and one of the few remaining high-ups that were part of the USAG prior to Nassar’s arrest.
      Not sure if people want him gone because of the “He was there, he was high up, he must have known” reasoning, or because there’s something definitive that he did. It is widely circulated that he helped cover up the reason for Nassar’s absence from USAG (before Nassar was charged but while he was effectively suspended while under investigation), although the only proof of that I’ve seen is that Galimore did so but because he was following the direction of USAG’s lawyer. Not sure if there has been proof directly connecting him to anything further than that or not.

      1. There is something definitive that Ron knew – in Rhonda’s written committee to the Senate, there was an email from Steve Penny to several people, including Galimore, stating “you are on this email because you are aware of the current issue concerning USAG and one of its medical staff” and then went on to tell all the recipients to keep the matter silent. Before that information came out, it was possible that Galimore had been given the cover story and just passed it on, but it’s clear from this email that Ron knew and did nothing.

      2. Unpopular opinion here, but I don’t think Ron Galimore has done enough to warrant firing. He is part of the men’s program and at the time of the emails, Larry Nassar’s accusers were all female gymnasts. Yes, he is high up and yes, he knew there were allegations, but it was also clear from Rhonda’s testimony and emails that Steve Penny LIED to his employees and told them he had gone to law enforcement and law enforcement was handling it (before he actually did contact authorities). If they knew Steve Penny didn’t go to law enforcement and then did nothing, that’s a different situation. But it’s unreasonable to expect employees to make additional separate police reports about the same allegations after they have been told by their boss that the police are already involved and investigating. That’s holding people to an unreasonable standard, no one continues to call the police about crimes already reported and being investigated; it may lead to charges if you do for wasting police resources, etc.
        There’s also the issue that he helped cover up the reason for Nassar not being at the 2015 summer competitions because he had been suspended while being investigated. The problem with announcing to the press then that Nassar was suspended while being investigated for sexual assault allegations tied to his medical treatment is that if the investigation had cleared him, he would have been in an excellent position to sue for damage to his name and professional reputation. They didn’t know what the investigation’s outcome would be and, in all fairness, were in a damned if they do, damned if they don’t situation. USAG is being sued now anyways by the survivors… but they probably still would be even if they said the real reason for Nassar’s absence at that time. If they said the real reason and Nassar was cleared, he’d be suing them and no victims would be because there wouldn’t have been victims (hypothetically assuming in this scenario Nassar was innocent). If there were no victims, Nassar is cleared, and they lied to protect his reputation during the investigation, no one sues USAG. But absolutely they should have informed MSU about the allegations, and it is morally reprehensible that they did not.
        The camp culture is a problem for the WAG program, and Ron Galimore is only involved with MAG. Nassar, especially at the beginning when Galimore communicated pretend reasons for his absences, was a WAG program issue primarily. He didn’t report it to law enforcement on his own when he had been falsely told that law enforcement had been informed and was investigating, but didn’t know yet he had been lied to. But failing to make a (as far as he knew) duplicate report to police is a ridiculous expectation. I don’t think Ron Galimore did enough to be fired, and it seems like it distracts from the far bigger issue… Why the hell hasn’t Steve Penny been charged with lying to law enforcement, at the very least?????

      3. Galimore was the COO which means oversight over more than just the men’s program.

        But I agree that Steve Penny should be in jail. There is enough blame to go around here.

  4. Other news today:
    1. Alabama gymnasts Amanda Jetter and Bailee Key officially added their names to the #MeToo list as victims of a certain FAKE doctor. (PS – personally I’m not surprised I had a hunch last January that the “issues” Alabama was having at NCAA meets had to do with some of its athletes dealing with the USAG scandal. Wish I was wrong about it.)

    2. 2000, 2012 and 2016 quad gymnasts have spoken out about being abused — why has no 2004 and 2008 gymnasts spoken out? It’s unlikely an abuser decided to take a “break” and not abuse during those years… (PS – there may be gymnasts from those years who were abused but just haven’t gone public.). Anyone have any theories why the 2004 and 2008 gymnasts seem fine?

    1. Forgot to add: Props to he bravery of Amanda and Bailee. May they both find peace and success this year and in the future. Rooting for Bailee to win comeback AAer in the NCAA and SEC gymnast of the year.

    2. These are only theories and wild speculation, but I’ve seen other people mention that 2004-2008 was when Nasser’s own children were young and he may have spent less time at the national training camps.

      I’ve also wondered if the presence of Valeri made Nastia “off-limits” and maybe that spread to her whole cohort. (I’m not trying to suggest that Valeri knew or anything, but that Nasser himself might have set that boundary.)

    3. 2008 quad had many gymnasts coached by parents (Liukin, Bieger, Memmel), or had someone high up in USAG (Peszek) or was outspoken (Sacramone, Worley) which would make a predator hesitate.
      Unsure about 2004 quad.
      However, it could be that Nassar became bold later on, especially after the US was so dominate and the camps were essential at that point.
      Or maybe no one has come forward …yet.

      1. He was pretty bold back in 2000 based on Denhollander’s account – she said she knew he had done it to many other people based on how confidently he did it to her.

        It is very perplexing why no one has come forward from that era. But I give up on trying to understand him. And maybe there are people who just haven’t come forward yet.

      2. Well, as for 2004 – wasn’t Carly’s mom on USAG staff? Memmel was on team then too, and can anyone imagine Alicia keeping quiet? I think with all the other avenues he had available to him, the risk was not worth it during those two time frames to mess with the Olympic hopefuls.

      3. Yeah, I kind of had the same thoughts about 2008. The whole upper clique was pretty well protected through family/connections. The only one who was “on her own” seems to be Shawn Johnson – she’s a lot more outspoken today then she was back then – but I don’t (hope really) think she was affected.

        Actually has any Chow gymnast spoke out about being a victim? Thinking about all the rumours (true or not) you hear about bad gyms, it seems like Chow ran a good gym because I can’t think of one bad thing anyone ever said or claimed about him or his practices… (The biggest scandal was Gabby leaving and I think that had more to do with her having to choose between the gym and her family – not sure JMO.)

        If only Chow didn’t go to China he might have been the perfect person to take over USAG and get it into shape (pun intended).

  5. People in these comments seem to forget that Aly is only 24 and has never held a job besides being a gymnast. She probably doesn’t know the first thing about running a business. Should she have an official role and a voice within the organization? Absolutely. But to suggest her as PRESIDENT and CEO of such a massive company is just ludicrous.

    1. I agree with you about Aly. But when you use the word PRESIDENT, I can’t help but think Aly is better qualified for the job of U.S. President the the current incarnation…

  6. Someone on reddit suggested Michelle Obama take the CEO position for six months and then appoint her own successor.

    I would be down for that.

    Her work as first lady promoting fitness makes her as qualified as Perry was regarding gymnastics knowledge, but at the same time, she wouldn’t stand for the bullshit… plus her law degree would come in handy with all the lawsuits and congressional hearings.

    She is probably too smart to want to do this, however.

  7. I love your blog and agree with what you said in this post, but please correct the “you’re expectations are…” in the second-to-last paragraph. I’ve already seen too many spelling mistakes this last weeks just by reading facebook posts, usag statements and random coaching associations’ votes of no confidence!

    1. *these last weeks lol.
      As for who should be the new CEO, I don’t have any specific suggestions but I hope it’s not someone associatied with the old system, i.e friends with mlt and kelly hill.

  8. What about Jennifer Sey? I’m not sure what exactly her position is at Levi’s, but she at least would be someone within the gymnastics community not previously a crony of USAG, and she has business/marketing experience.

    1. I think she is an excellent candidate, along with Kathy Johnson Clarke who has been very active for years in promoting changes to improve healthy training, nutrition, coaching, and environments for athletes.

    2. Jennifer Sey would be an awesome choice. Anyone who hasn’t read her book I highly recommend doing so ASAP – it’s brutally honest about how USAG operated from a gymnast’s point of view.

  9. Also, Ron Galimore coordinated WITH Larry Nassar to create an acceptable excuse for his absence from training camp after Nassar Had a formal complaint finally recognized by USAG. There was discussion WITH Nassar as to the excuse and wording of the statement. USAG treated Nassar as the victim of unfounded complaints And it seems, did all they could to appease him.

    1. Well to be fair, the coordination was between USAG’s lawyers and Nassar who were passing the excuse on to Galimore. It wasn’t clear from that exchange whether Galimore was aware of the situation or not. However, the email that Rhonda gave the Senate in her written testimony leaves no doubt.

  10. Good, KP is gone. Check that one off the checklist. Now, get a new and better CEO. This will be harder because no sane person wants to get within 100 miles of the USAG right now.

    The USAG needs to hire a CEO experienced in crisis management. Serious crisis management. The person doesn’t have to know a thing about gymnastics. Part of the current problems experienced by USAG is the result of hiring too many gymnasticky people to run a complex organization. Gymnastics is simply what the athletes do. The system that supports the gymnasts is not about gymnastics.

    Right now the USAG needs to settle lawsuits, build public trust, create transparent systems based on accountability, bring back sponsors, and convince the USOC that they have a sustainable framework for the next two decades.

    So, there is No. Way. That. Aly. Should. Be. CEO. We all love Aly. We memorized the choreography of her 2012 and 2016 FX routines. We lost years off our lives watching her UB routines. However, anyone who thinks Aly is suited to being CEO of the current USAG knows nothing about running complex organizations.

    1. Um lets quit the reaching. Only struggle bunnies memorized her (choreography) as if it was some amazing dancing moment. My goodness. The reaching today!

  11. There’s another reason why Ron Galimore deserves to be fired. In between the time when Penny resigned and Perry took over, he was in charge. The organization did not take visible steps to change during this time (although there were probably individual staff members working on it behind the scenes). So, for the nine months Galimore was in charge, gymnastics didn’t visibly move forward and trust between the organization and the survivors eroded. Even if Galimore wasn’t involved at all in 2015 (which he was) this is reason enough to go. I’d like to see Galimore get a subpoena from Congress to see if he pleads the fifth.

    As far as Aly, no, she doesn’t have the experience to be a CEO of an organization in crisis. However, if I were the new CEO, the first thing I would do is hire her as official advisor to the CEO. If that presented a conflict of interest with the lawsuits, then I’d have a lawyer in the room for every meeting with her. But I wouldn’t do ANYTHING major that Aly didn’t sign off on. It’s the best thing to show the survivors they’re loved and respected. It’s also the best move for the organization to get your biggest critic on your side.

    It’s interesting to me how Aly has criticized literally everything about USAG but hasn’t thrown out a name that she thinks would be a good CEO. If she does, I’d hire that person in five seconds.

    1. Well, until yesterday, USAG had a CEO. And while Aly has been critical of Perry, she seemed willing to work with Perry and was not actually the one pushing for Perry’s resignation.

    2. Aly would make a good athlete rep and someone the gymnasts could go to with issues regarding coaches and USAG people – the job should NOT be paid by USAG but by an outsider so there is no bias. Aly is great but there are a lot of people who have been outspoken in many industries through history, only to receive a job from the company they were critical of and all of a sudden they’re hands are tied due to their pay check.

  12. ok how about aly for We do need crisis management….. which would be a lot easier if they stop talking lawyers bs and just admit their mistakes…

  13. USAG needs a CEO- someone who knows the business side, and a separate President that is a former athlete…the two of them need to be a team effort and there needs to be a system of checks and balances put in place.

    1. Marsden is a very successful and talented marketer, manager and coach. I know he was head coach of the 1987 world championship team in addition to Utah, so he has experience. But the USAG is under a microscope right now (and deservedly so), so hiring someone who married one of his athletes is probably not the best look for an organization overwhelmed by a sexual abuse scandal. The Marsdens appear to have a long and happy marriage, but the appropriateness of their courtship is guaranteed to be brought up if he was hired as President, and that’s not going to be helpful or productive to the USAG moving forward right now.

  14. I think Dominique Dawes has the leadership experience, business background, and knowledge of the gymnastics world to be a great choice for CEO.

  15. What about Suzanne? Or is she too busy being a volunteer coach at UGA now?

    Suzanne is a good marketer and ran a successful NCAA program leading it to 10 championships. Based on the other poster who pointed out why Greg Marsden would be a controversial choice, I don’t see any controversy with this – as far as I know she was never romantically involved with any of her gymnasts.

  16. Gabby was a Chow gymnast and is a survivor of Nassar. Chow seems like a great person.and coach , but you never really know.I am sure he is better than most. once upon a time, MLT was a better coach than most .it’s amazing what can go on behind closed doors.
    About the 2004 Quad, I actually think Alicia was one of the more vulnerable ones because she missed out on 2004 and wanted 2008 so badly . many of the others had parents or husbands (in Annia’s case) as coaches and probably were too dangerous for the guy to touch. Shawn really was quite healthy so maybe she didn’t need him much? I really hope we won’t hear of anyone else but I am.sure we will.Dominique Dawes has young twins and I am sure would not touch USAG with a 10 foot pole right now. I would love to.see Dominique Moceanu AND Jennifer Sey as joined CEO. LOL

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