COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Feb. 9, 2018) - The USA Volleyball Board of Directors held its regularly scheduled winter meeting on Jan. 27, 2018 at the historic Los Angeles Athletic Club in Southern California. The Board held its annual retreat the day before, this year focusing on issues regarding Board succession and the ongoing process to identify its new chair.
"It has been a privilege to serve USA Volleyball as a Board member and as the chair,” USA Volleyball Board Chair Lori Okimura said. “My primary concern is to ensure a successful transition to the new chair, once the person is identified, giving him or her enough time to digest the magnitude of this responsibility in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic & Paralympic Games. I am prepared to move on at any time and indicated this to the Board last May. In the meantime, I will continue to complete as much work as possible on behalf of USA Volleyball."
The Board meeting was opened with a few words of appreciation for USA Volleyball employee June Sander, manager of finance and operations, whose 19-years of service was recognized by the members along with special recognition as she prepares to leave the organization for a new business venture.
The 2018 national team calendar began with the FIVB World Tour event in The Hague where Olympic silver and bronze medalist April Ross and her rookie partner Alix Klineman won the gold medal after battling through the country quota on a 10-0 record to the finals. The FIVB World Tour calendar includes events in the USA, Japan, Brazil and throughout Europe as the teams head toward the start of Olympic Qualification on Sept. 1, 2018.
Key events in 2018 include the World ParaVolley Sitting Volleyball World Championships in The Netherlands (July 15-22), the FIVB Men's Volleyball World Championship in Bulgaria and Italy (Sept 10-30), the FIVB Women's Volleyball World Championship in Japan (Sept. 29 to Oct. 20) and the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina (Oct. 6-18). The inaugural season of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League starts in May 2018. The United States will play matches in Lincoln, Nebraska (women) and Hoffman Estates, Illinois (men).
- Jamie Davis gave an update of the corporation's activities since the last Board meeting.
- A working group of athletes, coaches, staff and advisors met to determine the beach selection process for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Participants included 2008 Olympic gold medalist Todd Rogers and Ross. USA athletes will qualify for the Olympics through the FIVB World Tour rankings and qualification system. The start date for the Olympic qualification period will be announced by the FIVB in the near future.
- The USA National Beach Tour launched in January 2018 and signified a merger of the former USA Junior Beach Tour & the American Beach Tour nationwide. The tour events will also feature USA High Performance selection activities. The USA National Beach Tour will also offer a national beach ranking system for juniors, with the adult divisions coming online at a later date. There is a unified effort for the national office and regions to work more closely together moving forward.
- The FIVB Volleyball Nation's League begins in 2018. The U.S. Women play Poland, Turkey and Italy May 15-17 in Lincoln, Nebraska. The U.S. Men play Serbia, Poland and Iran June 15-17 in Hoffman Estates.
- The new USAVolleyballShop.com launched in the Fall with successful results. Additional merchandise will continue to be added throughout the year.
- Preliminary membership as of January 2018 was reported as 321,000, up 3.5 percent year to date.
- An RFP process is in progress for the membership services database for USA Volleyball. The current services contract ends August 2019.
"The Board recognizes that as Jamie Davis continues his reorganization of USA Volleyball's corporate structure, the governance structure must also change,” Okimura said. “We began the process last year of reviewing all areas of governance. We will continue to seek input from many areas as the Board determines changes for the future. We have made significant changes in the past several years, and more changes are to come."
Among other business conducted, the Board eliminated the Affiliated Organizations program, and continued on-going work to install best practices throughout the organization including the continued support of the U.S. Center for SafeSport. Since the introduction of SafeSport, the USA Volleyball staff and Board have been 100 percent certified. Good governance continues to remain a priority for the Board as it examines current Board representation and selection of members to ensure a clear path with more emphasis on diversity and inclusion for those who wish to participate in governance at the Board and Board committee level.
"USA Volleyball's daily operations include establishing strong working partnerships with organizations and corporations who share the same values, goals and objectives,” Okimura said. “This happens regularly, with or without an affiliated organizations program. One example is our close and strong working relationship with the NCAA, and opportunities to collaborate at their national championship events. We greatly appreciated the opportunity for the Paralympic gold medal-winning U.S. Women’s Sitting Team to showcase sitting volleyball in front of NCAA-record crowds last December in Kansas City, and we hope to continue relationships like this in the future."
Dr. Julie (Bremner) Romias joined the meeting. She was the first person to come forward in 1995 alleging sexual misconduct by Rick Butler, owner of the Sports Performance Volleyball Club in Illinois. Dr. Romias thanked the Board for allowing her to speak, discussed her encounters with Mr. Butler when she was a teenager, and she thanked USAV for banning Mr. Butler for life. On Jan. 10, 2018, a hearing panel of the USA Volleyball Ethics and Eligibility Committee issued a decision finding that Mr. Butler had engaged in multiple acts in violation of USA Volleyball's Bylaws, and banned him for life from membership in USA Volleyball. USA Volleyball had received allegations of sexual abuse, sexual misconduct and abusive coaching practices against Mr. Butler from a number of individuals, including several former players, which ultimately led USA Volleyball to bring disciplinary action against Mr. Butler for violations of USA Volleyball's Bylaws and rules. A hearing was held on those allegations on Jan. 8, 2018. Since Mr. Butler is now suspended for life, this means that he is ineligible to participate, and will forever be ineligible to participate, in any activities organized, operated, run or sanctioned by USA Volleyball.
The Board and Dr. Romias discussed ways to strengthen the SafeSport program. The Board thanked Dr. Romias, and applauded her work to support the other victims of sexual abuse who have come forward. Through the U.S. Center for SafeSport, USA Volleyball and its regional volleyball associations will continue to provide every possible resource to victims who seek help and assistance in cases of sexual misconduct, bullying and other abuses.
The 2018 annual meeting of the USA Volleyball Board will be held in Lincoln, Nebraska, on May 16-17, and the last regular meeting of the year will be Aug. 25-26 in Anaheim, California.