USA Table Tennis

USATT New Member
USATT Renew Membership
USATT Profile

History of U.S. Table Tennis Volume 13: 1984

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN 

            1984: Election Results/Pre-U.S. Open Action by USTTA President Boggan. 

            You can see from the adjacent article and photos of Tim Boggan, Rufford Harrison, Gus Kennedy, and D-J Lee (Timmy’s, May, 1984, 2) the Election results for the 1984-86 two-year term of E. C. office. President-Elect Boggan adds a Thank You to those who voted for him, and asks those members, whether they’re tournament-active or not, who didn’t vote for him to inquire of others why they think the majority of voters did. Life Member Norm Silver writes in (SPIN, May-June, 3) that, “Although I did not vote for Mr. Boggan…I hope all members of the USTTA support him in his endeavor to advance the Association and the sport. All that we can ask of him is to do his best.”

            Once I officially became President-Elect (I’d actually take office as President on June 1), I began through May to deal with current USTTA policy matters. Foremost among these was the question of the Association’s Executive Director Bill Haid. No sooner had he submitted  a Report (SPIN, May-June, 1984, 22; 24) summarizing what changes for the good had happened in the six years since he’d taken office, and what improvements were still very much needed, steps were taken by the E.C. and me to fire him as of May 31st (later extended to June 1st).

            This didn’t come as a surprise to Bill (though on May 15th he writes to me, “You are exercising my termination without just cause”), for the question of Fund-Raising had recently been a very thorny issue in his life. He says in his Report: 

            “One of the duties of my position is to raise funds for the USTTA. I had made contact with 96 different corporations in 1978-79 and was fortunate to get $10,000 from Coca-Cola, and $800 from the Chrysler Corporation just prior to our U.S. Team’s participation at the World Championships in Pyongyang, North Korea. In 1981, another 80 fund-raising contacts were made with no success. In Nov., 1982 through Apr., 1983 another 45 contacts were made—no success. The basic reason for this was that corporate sponsors were interested only in U.S. sports that might win medals.

            I learned from the Assistant Director of Swimming that their fund-raising company had been able to contact two corporate sponsors for $180,000 a year. I contacted this fund-raising company and got a positive response. Appointments and reservations were made, but at the insistence of Sol Schiff I had to cancel my trip. Sol said the USTTA could not afford to let me keep my appointments, and said if these fund-raising people were really interested they could fly out to Colorado Springs to see me….

            On Dec. 20, 1983, I was informed by Sol Schiff at breakfast at the Tropicana Hotel that the USTTA was approximately $30,000 in debt, and that his E.C. requested him to inform me that I must raise this amount of money prior to June 1, 1984. If I did not raise the $30,000—a debt made through a verbal contract and poor judgment on the part of a few Executive Committee members relating to approval for TV production of the 1982 Closed—the USTTA E.C. would not renew my contract….” 

            Desperate to keep his job, on Feb. 10th, 1984, Bill, representing the USTTA, signed a fund-raising contract with E. Ray Mueller (pronounced Miller) in which part of their agreement was that Mueller would “receive $200 a day for services rendered, not to exceed $1,600 in any one month.”

            Three months later, during a conversation I had with Bill at Colorado Springs as he was tidying things up two weeks before leaving his position as Executive Director, I was startled to see a copy of this ‘Contract-Agreement’ for the first time. Here is what I had quickly to explain to the E.C.in a May 16th letter (Bill’s ‘Contract-Agreement’ attached): 

            “ You’ll notice that Bill had addressed his Feb. 10, 1984 ‘Contract-Agreement’ with E. Ray Mueller to the USTTA E.C. But as I’m questioning him he admitted that he never actually sent it to the E.C.

            ‘Oh, Bill,’ I said. ‘Why not?’

            ‘Because I knew they’d never pass it.’ [Would never, as required by the USTTA Handbook, even get it to an E.C. lawyer for review.]

            Given the $30,000 ultimatum Schiff had forced on him, what did common sense tell Bill to do. ‘You can’t raise money without spending money,’ he said. ‘Schiff wouldn’t let me spend any money at all—not even on travel to raise funds.’

            So how much money did Bill spend since Feb. on fund-raising? Budget was $1,000. Bill spent $6,893.74.

            But not so much with USTTA-member Mueller after all. Bill had to explain to him on Apr. 20th when faced with another $200 bill that neither he nor the USTTA had the money to pay him (at this moment the bill still remains unpaid). Thousands of potential fund-raising brochures were printed up….Question is: What kind of return were they bringing in?...Interestingly, last year, the same bill was paid twice to Minuteman Press. Did they ever call it to Bill’s attention? No, they did not. Today, as I’m going over some accounts with Bill, the mistake is found, Minuteman called, the error confirmed.

            Well, Bill tried.

            He still believes that one of the hoped-for contracts might come through (I have a book full of particulars Bill gave me in this regard). He says it would be a big mistake were we to drop our connection with Mueller, who, Bill assumes, has not really been doing anything for Bill or the USTTA in terms of $200-a-day activities since Apr. 20th.” 

            Following up on this “Contract-Agreement,” I, on taking office June 1st, spoke again to Bill and reported to the E.C.: 

            “Out of USTTA funds Bill paid Mueller $618.

            Out of Bill’s largely uncollected ’82-’83 Bonus of $2,991 (he did collect $750 of it), Bill paid Ray $1,518. So that meant Bill had used up all but $723 of his ’82-‘83 bonus.

            Bill said that, as of May 31st, neither he nor the USTTA owed Ray ANYTHING.

            I called Ray Mueller—and while he and his lawyer feel that Mueller DID make a valid contract not just with Haid but with the USTTA [in an earlier letter to Mueller, I’d emphasized that Bill had no USTTA authority to sign such a secret agreement], Ray agreed that (1) as of May 31st he had been paid in full, and (2) he’s not going to do ANYTHING further unless he hears from us. If monies begin to pour in due to Ray’s contacts, then we’ll hear from him.” 

            Also, on June 1, I signed Bill’s termination agreement. He got: a) Severance Pay: $3,184.62; b) Vacation Time: $1,061.54; c) Bonus Pay for 1982-1983: $723—and, on approval of the E.C. at their June, 1984 Meeting, Bonus Pay for 1983-84 of $5,542.02.

            On June 6th, as I wrote the E.C. on the 7th, Haid went to collect Unemployment Compensation. Surprise—he couldn’t get it. Why not? Because though as a non-profit organization the USTTA doesn’t have to pay Federal Unemployment, the State is looking to collect because we have at least four employees. Bill obviously didn’t realize this, and apparently neither did anyone else. Ken Waugh, the USTTA’s auditor, brought this to my attention (last year he didn’t catch it) and is also alerting the state Auditor, thus avoiding his visit to our Headquarters. Ken thinks we should have been paying in 1983 2.7% of the first $7,000 per employee, and in 1984 3% of the first $8,000 per employee. Which means, with our voluntary compliance, we’ll owe maybe $1,600. 

            What exactly our financial situation was on June 1, 1984 when I took office, I don’t think, based on the financial sloppiness I inferred had been going on and I was later faced with (as may be seen in Chapter 20), we really knew. However, this Report (SPIN, Sept., 1984, 20) was given, I presume as conscientiously as he could, by USTTA Treasurer Lyle Thiem: 

Income For Fiscal Year Ended 5/31/84:         $314,290.44

Budget For Fiscal Year:                                $292.500.00

Income includes $29,000 deferred revenue from ’83 U.S. Open

Expenses For Fiscal Year Ended 5/31/84        $315,866.13

Budget For Fiscal Year:                                $292,500.00

(Expenses include $3,962 unbudgeted severance and vacation pay)

 

Also, I’ve included here:

Proposed Budget For Year Ending May 31, 1985

USTTA Balance Sheet (May 31, 1984) 

            Other terminations: USTTA Legal Chairman, Haid’s son-in-law Rex Burlison (annual retainer was $2,400)— later he’d be replaced by Bob Hibschweiler); and USTTA Public Relations Chair Lee Berton (later he’d be replaced at my urging—a mistake—by Stan Robens, who’d soon resign and be replaced by Jay Harris).

            One who wasn’t terminated was Tim Boggan. Yeah, in mid-May, Schiff, who understandably was taking his election loss very hard, wrote letters to USTTA Rules Chair Mal Anderson, Executive Vice-President Gus Kennedy, and even, incredibly, to USOC Executive Director Col. Miller looking to “suspend” me—not via any defined disciplinary procedure of course, but by Presidential fiat (as he’d earlier tried to do with my son Scott).

            Sol had also rubbed Lyle Thiem the wrong way with a letter to the E.C. It drew this May 30th reply from Lyle: 

“Dear Sol:

            I would like to reply to page #2 of your May 15th letter to the Executive Committee and others in which you stated that I voted against Tim Boggan as Editor of Topics. You also made reference to our common home city. [As we saw last chapter, I was in Dayton attending Lyle’s tournament on May 19.]

            What could you possibly have hoped to accomplish by putting this statement in print and circulating it—other than to expose yourself as someone in whom one cannot confide? The statement insinuates that I betrayed my neighborhood chum and it is damaging to Tim and me; probably more so to Tim.

            Is it really an E.C. member’s privilege to publicly reveal how others voted on a secret ballot? Were you perhaps trying to catch me in a lie in case I may have told someone that I voted the opposite way? Do you think I was trying to hide how I had voted? Excuse me, but every time I read the statement I read a little more into it.

            To say the least, the statement is divisive in nature and it disgusts and displeases me.

Furthermore, I am attacking your motives in publishing it.” 

            As it happened, at the very time Schiff was writing his deranged letter to Col. Miller seeking my suspension, I was actually seeing Col. Miller in Colorado Springs. He wanted, and I looking to mend fences, wanted too, a rather young Player Representative on our E.C. and so Sheila O’Dougherty, Chair of our Athletes Advisory Committee, also became our Player Representative, a new full-fledged E.C. member. Col. Miller and I also talked about the possibility of using the Lake Placid site for training.

            Though I wasn’t terminated, I myself had to terminate, after the last of my promised eight issues, “Timmy’s.” It was hard for me to give it up after I’d got it flourishing, but I knew if I continued it, I’d be working against Tom Wintrich’s official magazine, trying, as I had been before, to make it better than SPIN. Given the office I’d been elected to serve, that would have a very divisive effect.” 

            It was Haid’s termination, however. that most demanded the E.C.’s attention. Of course I spent quite a bit of President-Elect time (May Time) at Colorado Springs trying to bring closure to the past and openness to the future. I was worried about the stability of Headquarters. I’d begun advertising for an Executive Director in SPIN and the Colorado Springs and Denver papers. But there was this interim time when we didn’t have one.  On May 18th, I wrote the following letter to the E.C.: 

            “Throughout my just concluded stay at Colorado Springs I feel I got the maximum possible cooperation from those in our Headquarters Office. Bill, Sarah, Emily, and Tom. Their forthrightness, their immediate and thorough attempts to answer my three days of questions, made it easy for me to work with them. There is no doubt in my mind that they’re conscientious and honest. I think my own openness with them right from the beginning helped what had to be something of an unpleasant experience bearable. [When I was in Colorado Springs, Bill and Sarah’s friends had a Farewell Party for them and it was obvious Bill would be missed—one woman burst into tears. I attended this Party, and being the guy who’d fired him—which, since I’d never fired anyone before, I didn’t do very smoothly—I wasn’t at all comfortable about being there.]

            There was a problem of incompatibility at Headquarters—with Bill, Sarah, and Emily Hix Cale on the one hand (she’d acted as Notary for the Haid/Mueller ‘Contract-Agreement’ back in February) and Bob Tretheway on the other. At first Emily said that if Bill and Sarah go, she goes too. But then she reconsidered, said that so long as she didn’t have to take direction from Bob she’d remain as Office Manager. She could also do Membership, while Audrey Vernon, who’d worked in our Headquarters Office before, doing Accounting, could take over for Sarah (though only half-days), and Tom, who for his salary and occasional perks could help out when needed. They could all work together as a sufficiently cooperative, productive threesome—yes? At least until our June E.C. Meeting where by then we might have found a new Executive Director.

            Since I think highly of Emily, and feel sure as she continues on, I’ll work well with her, I intend to make certain the Office ambiance is as pleasant as possible for her. I know I can count on Bob’s cooperation in this.

            Outside of my office work here (from 5:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) I spent my time socializing (eating, drinking, and talking) with Tom and Bob and learned some helpful things. Both Tom and Bob are valuable to the Association—perhaps it’s fair to say Tom needs to be pushed a little sometimes, Bob held back a little sometimes. I can better judge their potential value as I’m with them more. Bob, it’s clear, is quite ambitious….” 

             By the first week in June, I had only two prospective Executive Director’s resumes—David Devaney’s (he was Nancy Hill Persaud’s brother, but not himself a table tennis player) and Bob Tretheway’s. And, since I expected a lot more resumes, I wasn’t in any hurry to hire someone. Indeed, I wasn’t even sure now I wanted to hire an E.D. There were other Olympic sports here without an E.D., operating with an Office Manager—fencing, for example.

            Of course, with Tretheway’s increasing experience as Coaching Chairman and his ambitious observations as to what works and what doesn’t in an Association headquartered in an Olympic complex, you’d expect him to present an excellent “National Planning Outline”—no, make that a “National Planning Outline #1”—to the E.C.  The Outline was extensive, more than I want to reproduce here, but I’ll mention a few points large and small that caught my eye: 

            “I. Evaluate current office procedures and institute changes necessary for efficient and responsive operations. [Imagine Emily working under him?]…

            A-2: Handle all monies through Headquarters—provides better accountability….

            A-3: Adjust fiscal year to Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 so as to correspond with USOC operations….

            B-1: Establish and publish regular office hours. B-1a: Have someone answer the phone through the lunch hour….  

            B-4: Establish and maintain all levels of inventory….

            D: Utilize more effectively our committee system….

            II-B: Evaluate youth-oriented programs and organizations for development….

            D: Initiate an affiliate club-enhancement program….[Takes personal contact.]

            G-4a: Note Lou Bochenski has 10,000+ equipment buyers on his mailing list…. [USTTA membership potential there?]

III: Develop a fund-raising strategy. [We’d need someone paid just to do this?] 

I was thinking about Tretheway quite a bit. He didn’t seem to me to have, matched-up with my vague idea of other Governing Body E.D.’s—what shall I say?—‘respectable-enough background depth’ for the position. However, I liked his super-ambition—thought he could produce and that I could help him become one of the most important, influential people in U.S. Table Tennis. But I didn’t want him in a Colorado Springs office, I wanted him “on the road.”  

So on June 5th I sent the following suggestion (“How About a USTTA Salesman on the Road Instead of an E.D.?”) to my E.C.: 

“Last Saturday, in Thornton, Colorado, a suburb of Denver, as part of the Grand Opening Day Festivities at the new Community First National Bank (free prizes, Pepsis, cookies, pony rides for the kids), Insook Bhushan and Kasia Dawidowicz put on I won’t say a t.t. exhibition but some casual ball-batting on a table in the lobby for a steady flow of (maybe you’ll open an account with us?) visitors. For their three-hour performance, Insook and Kasia were paid $100 each. (Kasia and her dad Bohdan, pronounced Bogdan or Bob, get $250 each for 12-minute smash-and-lob exhibitions in between Denver Nuggets’ basketball games.) I accompanied Insook and Kasia to this Bank and of course was nice and talked to anyone who looked interested about table tennis.

The Bank President, I soon found out, had been coached by ‘experts’ back in the early 1950’s when he lived in Japan. Sure, with a little coaxing, he’d hit some—hadn’t played in 30 years. He doffed his suit-jacket, unloosened his tie, rolled up his shirt sleeves, took of his boots to reveal white sweat socks—and, modified-penholder-at-the-ready, went to it…for 15 minutes. Then he re-assembled himself and was soon talking to a woman about interest rates. Periodically he’d come back to the t.t. table, especially when other bank officials were trying their hand at the game. One guy who works there at the Bank said he used to have a table in his living room—only place he could put it, he said, but he liked the game so much he didn’t mind. Another Bank employee was telling us how back in Indiana he and his fraternity brothers played every afternoon.

So of course I began talking to the President about how there were Bank Leagues all over the country and urged him to start and support organized play, get a league going. He liked the idea—so much so that Kasia promptly approached him, asking for a $250-sponsorship to the U.S. Open…and, damn, he might give it to her.

It seems to me what we need is not just somebody in Colorado Springs to send this Bank President paper info, but an on-the-road Coordinator to help him actually get a league going. Later, if all goes well, we might get him to sponsor a prize-money Invitational.

Bohdan tells me all about the exhibitions he’s given at school after school (like, for example, years ago, Lou Bochenski and his kids did), but there was usually never much follow-up. One boy watching Insook and Kasia said they had 7-10 tables at his school—yep, players were out there. So, instead of having a Director and his wife sitting in Colorado Springs for $40,000 a year (Cycling’s Executive Director, I heard, is gone from their Colorado Springs Office 50% of the time), perhaps what we need is a knowledgeable organizer in the field…like Tretheway.

I went to a Polish Catholic Church with Dawidowicz on Sunday and one thing that impressed me was that during the service the priest came down the row of pews and back up the other side shaking hands with the parishioners and saying repeatedly a few words of welcome. Supposing Tretheway, representing USTTA Headquarters as a Coordinator, were to go out not just, say, to the Denver area where I count six clubs that could give him some support (Colorado’s Howie Grossman says he recently ran a tournament exclusively for 110 Koreans who only wanted to play amongst themselves). But suppose he went, say, from Kansas City to Cheyenne on a paid experimental trek.

With his salesmanship ability and desire to be important couldn’t he get new clubs, leagues going, find new USTTA members, offer area after area coaching opportunities, provide interested places with exhibitions, develop prize-money tournaments, etc.? For the first time ever, a liaison man from the USTTA would map out promising circuit-stops to explore. Just the personal appearance of such a force-figure here, there, and everywhere in a given area would be an act of salesmanship. Now, I thought, would be a good time to try something like this on an experimental basis, for we have a natural organizer in Tretheway. One question is, ‘Do we want him to do it?’ Another, and more important one, is: ‘Would he do it?’”