History of the USOC AAC
Prior to the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, U.S. Athletes began questioning governance decisions such as how the team flag bearer was elected. Responding to the inquiries, then U. S. Olympic Committee Executive Director, F. Don Miller, arranged for a meeting in Munich for the team captains to hold the first election of a USA flag bearer for an Olympic Games. At the Sullivan Awards that followed, a number of Athletes who have been in Munich, were again together and expressed the need to have a real voice in governance of sport in the USA. Don Miller provided the resources for athletes to meet.
The first AAC (1973) pre-dated the passage of the Amateur Sports Act. They were a start-up with no formal structure within the USOC, no internal structure within their own organization and voice but no vote at the Board of Directors meeting.
In 1975, President Ford organized the President’s Commission on Olympic Sport, which led to Congress passing legislation in 1978 called the Amateur Sports Act giving athletes both voice and vote in the governance process of Olympic Sport.
In 1998, the United States Congress amended the Amateur Sports Act, renaming it the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act (TSOASA), after the Senator who sponsored the bill. The amended Act strengthened the role of athletes in the Olympic family it now includes, by name, the athlete commission and its voting strength.
The Act states: “In its constitution and bylaws, the Corporation shall establish and maintain provisions with respect to its governance and the conduct of its affairs for reasonable representation of. amateur athletes who are actively engaged in amateur athletic competition or who have represented the United States in international amateur athletic competition with the preceding 10 years, including through provisions which-establish and maintain an Athletes’ Advisory Council composed of, and elected by, such amateur athletes to ensure communication between the corporation and such amateur athletes; and ensure that the membership and voting power held by such amateur athletes is not less than 20 percent of the membership and voting power held in the board of directors and in the committees and entities of the corporation. The revisions to the Amateur Sports Act also created the Athlete Ombudsman position.