USA Wrestling Board of Directors Meeting held in Colorado Springs, Colo. on August 16

By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling | Aug. 19, 2014, 5:02 p.m. (ET)
USA Wrestling hosted its annual USA Wrestling Board of Directors meeting at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs, Colo. on Saturday, August 16. The meeting was chaired by USA Wrestling President James Ravannack.

On behalf of the Finance Committee, Treasurer Van Stokes made the presentation of the 2014-15 USA Wrestling budget proposal, which was discussed by the Board and approved unanimously.

The 2014-15 USA Wrestling approved budget includes $13,028,282 in revenues and $13,089,222 in expenses, with revenues under expenses of $60,940.

“I am telling you that this is one healthy organization. I am also telling you that no member of the Finance Committee has any reservations about presenting this budget. We have had good calls and have looked at this from many different areas. When we are fiscally disciplined and healthy like we are, we can do what we are doing with this budget,” said Stokes.

The Board of Directors held its election for Board at Large positions and positions two Standing Committees, as well as for officers of the Board of Directors.

Six At-Large members of the Board of Directors were elected by the Board: Bruce Baumgartner of Edinboro, Pa., David Black of River Falls, Wis., Jim Considine of Carol Stream, Ill., Chris Kallai of Wadsworth, Ohio, Kerry McCoy of College Park, Md. and Duane Morgan of Hollister, Calif.

The officers were elected by acclimation. They include James Ravannack of Metairie, La. (President), Greg Strobel of Bethlehem, Pa. (First Vice-President), Bruce Baumgartner of Edinboro, Pa. (Second Vice President), Van Stokes of Clarksville, Tenn. (Secretary) and Duane Morgan of Hollister, Calif. (Treasurer).

The results of Standing Committee elections follow:

Executive Committee: Kerry McCoy of University Park, Md. and Rick Tucci of Pembroke Pines, Fla.

Governance Committee: William Grant of Inverness, Fla., Duane Morgan of Hollister, Calif. and Chris Kallai of Wadsworth, Ohio

USA Wrestling President James Ravannack created a new ad-hoc committee for Beat the Streets USA Wrestling, which will work on this important and growing program. Selected to the ad-hoc committee were Jim Fallis and Kyra Barry from New York, Yero Washington, Brian Guerrero and Kevin Lake from Los Angeles, Dave Curby from Chicago, Chris Hanlon and Clint Matter from Philadelphia, plus Jim Considine, Greg Strobel and Art Martori from USA Wrestling’s volunteer leadership.

The Junior Olympic Wrestling Committee report was presented and accepted by the Board, covering a variety of issues within age-group and grassroots wrestling.

Included in the report was a change to line bracketing for all USA Wrestling National Championships, with a bracket of less than five athletes going to a roundrobin. The report included a change in the automatic qualifiers for the Cadet and Junior Nationals to include the top four from Cadet and Junior Regionals, as well as the FILA Cadet Nationals and FILA Junior Nationals. Video review for the Cadet and Junior Nationals was expanded to include no less than the semifinals and finals. True Second place matches have been removed at the USA Wrestling Folkstyle Nationals at the Cadet and Junior divisions. A number of organizational changes have also been made for the Schoolboy/girl National Duals.

The Board of Directors approved a recommendation from the Junior Olympic Wrestling Committee for the creation of an election concerning the leadership of the state association in Washington, D.C. The current 148 USA Wrestling members in Washington, D.C. will have a vote, with the parents of all members who are minors allowed to vote on behalf of their children. USA Wrestling will enter into an affiliate agreement with the winner of the election, provided that they approve a new set of bylaws as presented by USA Wrestling. New Jersey state chairperson Rich Santoli will represent the Junior Olympic Wrestling Committee during the election process.

The Board of Directors also approved a resolution document, presented by National Women’s Coach Terry Steiner, supporting the creation of girls high school wrestling programs and state championships, which will be sent to each of the state high school athletic associations and the National Federation of State High School Associations.

President James Ravannack introduced Ohio state chairperson Chris Kallai and his wife Debbie as the recipient of the President’s Award. The President’s Award program brings outstanding state leaders to the World Championships as part of the official United States delegation. The Kallais attended the FILA Junior World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia in early August as part of this successful program.

In his Executive Director’s Report, Rich Bender talked about the amazing efforts made on behalf of USA Wrestling and the sport during the Olympic crisis of 2013.

“A year ago, we sat in this very room with a lot of uncertainty around our sport. When our Olympic status was challenged, a lot of things changed. I am incredibly proud to report that our sport is alive and well and solidified itself in the Olympic movement as a result of the hard work of everyone in this room. You can be proud of the organization you have built here as being a leader around the world in ensuring that wrestling is recognized on the Olympic program for many years to come,” said Bender.

Bender also thanked the Board of Directors, the state leaders and the national staff for their service and commitment to the organization and the sport.

“I want to say thank you to this Board and to our state leaders. You are the life blood of the sport of wrestling. We have no chance if it weren’t for your tireless efforts to move our sport forward. Thank you to our staff for its efforts to work every day to make the sport better,” said Bender.

In his President’s Report, James Ravannack recognized Bender’s leadership within the sport and the Olympic community.

“Rich Bender works tirelessly around the clock. With his leadership of the NGB Council, Rich is very involved, but it means that the health of our sport is strong,” said Ravannack.

Scott Blackmun, the CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, appeared before the Board of Directors and updated the board on its relationship with USA Wrestling.

“I stopped by a year ago, and as a sport, we didn’t know where we would be, but that worked out very well for wrestling and for USA Wrestling. I know that you had a good year. It feels like there is a lot of positive momentum with USA Wrestling” said Blackmun.

He also talked about the major initiatives of the U.S. Olympic Committee moving forward.

“The USOC is in good shape. We have a couple of really big initiatives. One is we are looking at hosting the 2024 Olympic Games. We are talking to Washington, D.C., Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles about this. Every one of them could do a great job. Our task will be to determine which city would do the best job and which city has the greatest chance of winning,” said Blackmun.

“We are also really excited about our overall philanthropic direction. We decided to invest significant additional funds into fundraisers. We are very hopeful that we are going to take what was $1 million a year in major gifts in 2010 and take that into $50 million per year by 2017. We are currently at $16 million a year, which is 16-fold what we were four years ago. We will already declare this a success,” he continued.

The FILA report was given by Jim Scherr, who was named to the FILA Bureau in 2013, and has recently been added to the Bureau as an honorary member. He reported on the upcoming agenda of the FILA Bureau meeting in Tashkent as well as the relationship between international wrestling and the International Olympic Committee.

“FILA is looking for additional rule modifications, is attempting to revitalize sponsorship and is moving forward with its World Wrestling Plan,” said Scherr. “We have a great opportunity with the 2015 World Championships in Las Vegas, where we can help move their thinking forward.”

Jeff Waters, Board Chairman of the U.S. Wrestling Foundation, gave an update on the development of the organization, and its plans to help support USA Wrestling programs and activities through their fundraising efforts.

“Our mission is to raise money and provide support to USA Wrestling and potentially other wrestling entities. The model is to go out and find people who have a background, interest and passion for our sport and have the resources to make a substantial financial contribution. We are trying to be additive. We are seeking new donors, or raising additional money from people who are already donating to wrestling. We believe we can make one-plus-one equal three. Our mission is to bring new money into wrestling,” said Waters.

Steve Brunner of KOM Sports, who is working with USA Wrestling on a variety of marketing, public relations and event presentation projects, presented a marketing plan to the Board of Directors, which included both overall organizational marketing as well as specific marketing for the major events on the USA Wrestling calendar through the rest of the Olympic quadrennium.