USOC Members Divided on Ward
The U.S. Olympic Committee was roiled Monday by disclosures of ethics concerns linked to Chief Executive Lloyd Ward, with detractors calling on him to resign immediately, but supporters urging a measured review of the extent of Ward’s involvement in a Detroit company’s bid to supply power generators to organizers of the 2003 Pan American Games.
“If Lloyd was smart, he would resign now,” one member of the USOC’s policy-making executive committee said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “He’s going to go one way or the other. I don’t think he can survive this.”
However, another member of the 22-person board, who also asked to remain unnamed, countered: “It seems to me that if you read really close and you know our ethics guidelines, there are some things he shouldn’t have done. But I’m not sure he should be fired for it.”
The executive committee is due to meet Jan. 13 in the wake of a report Monday in The Times that Ward earlier this year directed USOC staff to introduce the company, Energy Management Technologies, to organizers in the Dominican Republic, site of the 2003 Pan Am Games. The sole agenda item for the Jan. 13 meeting: Ward’s future as CEO.
Ward’s brother, Rubert, is identified on at least two company documents as EMT’s president; one of the brothers’ childhood friends, Lorenzo Williams, is identified as CEO. Earlier this month, at a meeting in Santo Domingo, the Dominican capital, Williams offered what Lowell Fernandez, the Games’ project manager, described as a bribe in a bid to win a deal; Williams denies offering any bribe. Williams also said that Rubert Ward “has no title now” with EMT. No contract has been signed.
Lloyd Ward has no financial interest in EMT. He did not return phone calls Monday to his cellular phone and his Florida home.
A former Maytag CEO with a reputation as a marketing guru, Ward has for some time had a marketing-related trip to Santo Domingo scheduled for Thursday. It remained unclear Monday whether he would still make that trip.
On July 1, Ward signed a USOC form that said he had no real or potential conflicts of interest. In it, he acknowledged that conflicts may involve “placement of business in, or favorable treatment of, a firm owned or controlled by a volunteer, family member or personal friend.”
The matter was brought several weeks ago to the attention of the USOC’s ethics compliance panel, and in a letter delivered Monday to the 22-member executive committee, USOC President Marty Mankamyer indicated that the ethics board is due shortly to issue a review “substantiating an ethics violation by Lloyd Ward.” Members of the ethics board could not be reached Monday for confirmation.
Ward took over as the USOC’s CEO in November 2001. His tenure has been controversial -- but he has also demonstrated ample political skill and infighting know-how, particularly in recent weeks.
One of a handful of African American members at Augusta National Golf Club, which does not have a female member, Ward was able Nov. 1 to convince the USOC’s executive committee to issue a statement of support for his “principled position on the issue,” an apparent reference to his Oct. 7 statement pledging to “aggressively work” for reform from within. Augusta plays host each spring to the Masters.
One of the central issues confronting Ward now is how much political capital he has expended over the Augusta issue. Mankamyer’s letter said the Jan. 13 meeting is to be a wide-ranging “performance review” of Ward’s 14 months on the job.
The U.S. team, for instance, won a record 34 medals at the Salt Lake Winter Games in February. But the USOC has announced few major sponsorship deals since.
The USOC’s budget now runs to more than $100 million annually. It remains uncertain if it will be solidly in the black heading into the 2004 Athens Games; in a recent issue, Forbes magazine advised would-be donors to be wary of contributing to the USOC.
Also at issue is the matter of consistency, particularly regarding the USOC’s mission to set an ethical example. For instance, Arizona real estate executive Sandra Baldwin, elected in 2000 as the USOC’s first female president, resigned May 24 after admitting to discrepancies in her USOC biography. She had listed a doctorate in American literature she didn’t earn.
Baldwin said Monday in a telephone interview, “I resigned because I felt the USOC needed to be held to the highest standard. To this very day, I feel good about what I did, because I believe I did something that was the right thing for the U.S. Olympic movement.
“I would hope he would show the same sort of courage.”