2010 U S Olympic Assembly ends on positive note for U S Olympic Family

By U.S. Olympic | Sept. 27, 2010, 4:20 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - After three days of meetings between the various constituencies of the U.S. Olympic Family - including the Athlete's Advisory Council (AAC), Multi-Sport Organizations (MSO) Council, National Governing Body (NGB) Council, U.S. Olympians and Paralympians Association, U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) Board of Directors and representatives from the USOC family of partners - the sixth annual U.S. Olympic Assembly closed Saturday in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"This year's Olympic Assembly has set a new level of collaboration and teamwork within the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movements, and it is only the beginning" USOC Chairman of the Board Larry Probst said. "The USOC is committed to new heights of inclusiveness and engagement, which we have strengthened in our organization from top to bottom. As a family, we now step forward with a united front, dedicated to our mission of supporting athletes, preserving the Olympic Ideals and inspiring Americans."

The assembly, themed "One Team" opened Thursday night with a reception at the Garden of the Gods Club. It continued Friday and Saturday at the Antlers Hilton in downtown Colorado Springs with keynote speeches, roundtables, town hall meetings, award presentations, forums and council meetings. The assembly was also held in conjunction with the USOC Partner Workshop, Olympic SportsLink and the Olympic Public Relations Association workshop.

"I couldn't be more pleased with the openness and spirit of partnership that was demonstrated at this year's U.S. Olympic Assembly" USOC Chief Executive Scott Blackmun said. "I will say, though, I'm not surprised. The character of the people involved in the U.S. Olympic Movement at this time is truly outstanding, and I am proud to be one of them."

Together, Probst and Blackmun set the tone for the assembly with their general address to the various constituent groups Friday morning. To read a full transcript of the general address, visit USOC Press Box. A video of the address is available on TeamUSA.org.

Chairman of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics, Dick Ebersol, engages U.S. Olympic Family in keynote

The keynote speaker at Friday night's reception was Chairman of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics Dick Ebersol. With more than 40 years of involvement in Olympic broadcasting, Ebersol spoke to a room of nearly 400 people. Below are excerpts from his address:

"Just think, a year ago, many of us in this room were very upset in the aftermath of Chicago; I'd say some were downright angry. We wanted change in leadership, in vision, in direction and especially in inclusiveness. Well, we've gotten that vision, we certainly have that direction, and we've got that inclusiveness in spades, and remarkably, we've got that leadership from a man that many of us wanted out a year ago - mistakenly - but nevertheless we wanted him out.

"Larry Probst did not bunker down, he did not feel sorry for himself but he saw what had been lost - the trust and broken relationships - and he set on a bold course to change that.

"In Scott Blackmun, Probst picked a CEO whose skill set and remarkable temperament and inclusiveness is second-to-none.

"Let me say it very clearly: congratulations for the start of this remarkable turnaround. We are very lucky to have your leadership, and we hope to have it for a very long time."

Ebersol also announced that NBC will air more than 200 hours from the 2012 Olympic Games in London, almost a 25 percent increase from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and 185 more hours than the company's first broadcast of the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. London marks the coverage of NBC's seventh straight Games. In addition, NBC's cable partners will also expand their coverage by 100 hours and average 50 hours a day.

U.S. Olympic Family reflects on 2010 U.S. Olympic Assembly

"It was very exciting to experience such optimism this weekend, and I believe it has been some time since the Olympic Family has had such overall cohesiveness. Communication is certainly a key to our success, and I believe that the dialogue between the USOC and the National Governing Bodies has been active and healthy." - Rich Bender, NGB Council Chair and Executive Director of USA Wrestling

"There's no question that this year's assembly was the best ever. I know that our group, the athletes, came out of this weekend extremely energized and optimistic about the direction of the U.S. Olympic Movement. The spirit of collaboration between the AAC, NGB Council, and the U.S. Olympians and Paralympians was clear and powerful, and the opportunity to interact directly with the USOC Board of Directors and CEO was unprecedented." - Matthew Van Houten, AAC Chair

"This year's Olympic Assembly was the best USOC meeting we've attended since 1998. This year's meeting was more positive and goal-oriented. We were pleased with the inclusion of the Paralympic Movement into U.S. Olympians and the USOC board. The MSO Council determined priority goals into the next year and beyond focusing on implementing additional collaborative opportunities with the USOC, NGBs and athletes. We thank all members of the U.S. Olympic family for their efforts and contributions toward this new era of collaboration." - Jeanne Picariello, MSO Council Chair

"I have been attending sports conventions and assemblies for 30 years, and this is the first time I felt like we were truly a family. There is a sense that our leadership is eager to set a course for success." - Willie Banks, President, U.S. Olympians and Paralympians Association

USOC Board of Directors approves bylaw changes

The assembly concluded Saturday with the following bylaw changes approved by the USOC Board of Directors:

- Expanding the board by four new members

- Adding the USOC's chief executive officer to the board as an ex-officio, non-voting member

- Extending the length of board member terms

- Eliminating term limits placed upon the chairman of the board

Additionally, the board voted to revamp the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Assembly, alter the process by which new directors are elected to the board, and eliminate the severance requirements for certain constituent director positions. To read the by-law changes, visit TeamUSA.org.

The board also received a report outlining the recommendations of the working group on safe training environments from its chair, Nina Kemppel, the first vice chair of the AAC and a four-time Olympian in cross-country skiing. More information on the recommendations of the working group will be made available Tuesday.

The USOC board will reconvene December 16 in San Francisco.

U.S. Olympians Association votes to include Paralympians

The U.S. Olympians and Paralympians Association, formerly known as the U.S. Olympians Association (USOA), voted unanimously on Friday to include Paralympians in its ranks. The integration will enable U.S. Olympians and U.S. Paralympians to work side-by-side on organizational initiatives that impact the larger movement and educate young athletes.

"In a show of solidarity, the U.S. Olympians Association has unanimously voted to include the Paralympians to form the U.S. Olympians and Paralympians Association" Banks said. "This is a milestone that will set the tone for integration and inclusion."

USOC presents annual awards

Throughout the assembly, several annual awards were presented by the USOC, including:

- Jack Kelly Fair Play Award: USA Table Tennis athlete, Steve Pupel (Grand Rapids, Mich.) was awarded the Jack Kelly Fair Play Award for his sportsmanship at the 76th Annual Michigan Closed Table Tennis Championships April 17-18, 2010.

- Olympic Torch Award: The Olympic Torch Award was presented to George E. Killian, a former member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and former USOC board member, in recognition of his meaningful impact on the U.S. Olympic Movement.

- Rings of Gold: Figure skater Melissa Gregory (Hartford, Conn.) and the USA Swimming Foundation's Make a Splash initiative were selected as the year's individual and program Rings of Gold award winners, respectively. The two annual awards recognize both an individual and a program dedicated to helping children develop their Olympic or Paralympic dreams and reach their highest athletic and personal potential.

USOC engages in Colorado Springs community

Nearly 60 USOC staff members and Olympians volunteered their time in the USOC's first-ever "Commitment to Community" project Saturday at four locations in Colorado Springs. The various projects included cleaning up America the Beautiful Park, renovating a baseball field at Meadows Park Community Center, and painting at both the Briargate and Southeast YCMAs.

The USOC is committed to being fully engaged in the Colorado Springs community and future Commitment to Community projects will be announced at a later date.