The USOPC and its NGBs have quietly turned the American Olympic sport ecosystem into a thriving source of revenue for hundreds of sports media professionals (USOPC Chair Lyons and CEO Hirshland are good examples), bureaucrats, and lawyers. In late March 2020 they brazenly requested $200 million to be included in the Coronavirus CARE Act for “athletes” and NGBs, suddenly asserting that the economic welfare of athletes is their primary concern. Is it really? Since Lyons and Hirshland took over in 2018 all we have seen is a paltry $525,000 a year committed to an AAC office, and late financial commitment to SafeSport and Para medalists.
If athletes are the priority, why is it that less than 5% of the $1.5BN of income is for “individual grants”? When Gold Medalist Bill Toomey read that the USOPC has 591 employees, his response was “OMG“. The USOC had 25 employees in a NYC office when he won his Decathlon Gold Medal at the 1968 Games. Then the USA won 20% of the medals; now 11% (2012 London), 12% (2016 Rio), and 7% (2018 Pyeongchang). So the USOPC is competent? Maybe not.
Congress gave the USOPC a monopoly to make TEAM USA the best it can be. If winning medals is the yardstick, they are ineffective. More importantly to me and others, they do a very poor job governing sport (sexual abuse scandals for one), and supporting athletes, coaches, and NGBs. The mismanagement and lack of oversight cascades through the system. USATF has a CEO earning 6-8x the average NGB CEO, and 20% of the NGB payroll–why? Where is the governance and oversight? There isn’t really any, and the top leadership of this movement has taken advantage.
These are facts from the latest IRS tax returns (990 filings anywhere from FY 2016 to 2018) of the USOPC and 42 NGBs in the Olympic program, in aggregate:
- The “receipts” (revenues) declared are $1.5 BILLION for an “off” year
- Payroll $274mm for 4,037 employees (there are about 800 OLY each 4 year cycle)
- 601 employees and 436 independent contractors (total 1,037) earning over $100k
- 653 Board Members getting their expenses paid for regular meetings and event trips
- Individual grants (athlete direct support) $67mm (25% of payroll, and 4.4% of receipts)
- Member dues $156mm (income to NGBs from athletes and their families)
- Assets $1.1BN not including affiliated foundations–USOPC Endowment has $200mm, several others $25mm+ endowments
Below is a summary screen shot (showing the aggregate of 42 NGBs and the USOPC) that captures the salient data from the 43 IRS 990 returns. We are now working to make this type of analysis available to the public in a user friendly and effective manner in a new site for the media, supporters, and Congress. Post us if you’d like more information or would like to help moderate the pages for your sport. Transparency is a critical element of finally reforming our Olympic sport system, and making the safety, welfare, and opportunity of thousands of athletes what they deserve.