COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado – The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee today announced an agreement with its Athletes’ Advisory Council to provide professional, independent operational support to enable the AAC to more effectively and professionally advise the USOPC on behalf of U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes. The Memorandum of Understanding provides the AAC financial and administrative resources, envisions the hiring of an executive director, and gives the AAC full autonomy regarding the allocation of its budget and personnel.
“This agreement is another important step in our ongoing efforts to place athletes at the heart of everything we do. The input and feedback of the athlete community must guide our organizational decision-making and these resources will enhance that communication process. I’m grateful to Han Xiao and the entire AAC leadership team for their continued collaboration,” said USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland. “A professional staff to assist the elected, volunteer leadership of the AAC will enable athletes to more effectively advise our team on an increasingly diverse and complex set of issues and policies and ensure that athletes’ needs and voices are well-represented.”
The USOPC will provide the AAC with an initial annual budget of $525,000, and will increase the budget 2% each year, to support staffing, projects and travel for the AAC. The AAC will also have access to internal USOPC administrative services (e.g., finance, human resources, IT, facilities, etc.) in alignment with the procedures followed by other USOPC internal departments.
"This commitment from the USOPC to provide resources to professionalize the AAC has the potential to be an incredibly significant moment in the history of the organization,” said AAC Chair Han Xiao. “Today's elite athletes are facing more numerous and complex issues than ever before, which means that the AAC must evolve and adapt to provide robust voice and representation for those athletes moving forward. This agreement is an important step toward that goal. We would like to thank Sarah Hirshland for engaging us in earnest and productive conversations that led to this exciting development, and we look forward to using our new resources and staff in the coming years to better serve the athletes we represent."
The MOU, signed by Hirshland and Xiao, is initially effective through Dec. 31, 2024, and will be annually reviewed by the AAC and the USOPC. The MOU follows a 2019 restructuring of the USOPC’s internal organization to better serve athletes, as well as the most sweeping governance reforms in nearly two decades, effective Jan. 1, 2020, underscoring a commitment to athlete representation, athlete safety and governance best practices.