Masback to leave USATF after 10 years of service, will join Nike in Global Business Affairs role


Jill Geer
Director of Communications
USA Track & Field

INDIANAPOLIS - USA Track & Field CEO Craig A. Masback is departing USATF after leading the organization for more than 10 years, USATF President Bill Roe announced Wednesday. Masback will become Director of Business Affairs for Nike's Global Sports Marketing Division and will transition to his new position over coming weeks and months.

In his decade of service as CEO of USATF, Masback has helped oversee the rebirth of the organization. Shortly after taking over as CEO, Masback and USATF established the nationally televised Visa Championship Series and began an Elite Athlete Services Department that revolutionized governing body/athlete relations. Masback also worked with the organization's Board of Directors to institute one of the sporting world's first "Zero Tolerance" anti-doping policies, and vastly expanded the grass-roots services provided by the National Office. Since 1997, Team USA also has steadily seen its medal tally at World Championships and Olympic Games grow from an average of 17-19 to 25 medals or more at the last Olympics and last two World Championships.

"Craig has been a great leader of our sport," said Roe. "As a former athlete, he understood what would make a difference for our athletes and coaches. As a businessman and lawyer, he helped professionalize our operation at every level. We wish him well at Nike."

"I have said from Day 1 that this has been my dream job," said Masback, who was hired in July 1997. "Leading the organization out of financial difficulty, convincing new sponsors to come on board, establishing new events and TV properties, finding new partners, expanding our programs on the grass roots level and tackling the challenges presented by doping have been immensely challenging and, ultimately, immensely rewarding. I couldn't have done it without the work of a dedicated staff and the enthusiasm and expertise of our volunteer community. After 10 years, it's time for me to embrace a new challenge."

Record growth

Masback oversaw 10 years of rapid growth and development within USA Track & Field as an organization and across the sport of track and field nationwide. Among the significant milestones and developments:

* Growth of the annual USATF budget from $6.7 million (1997) to more than $17 million (2008), fueled by a significant expansion of sponsor revenues. This allowed USATF to eliminate a $3.2 million deficit and establish net assets in excess of $3.3 at the end of 2007.

* Establishment of the Visa Championship Series (formerly the Golden Spike Tour) in 1999. The Visa Championship Series has provided USATF's professional athletes with quality domestic competitions, significant prize money and increased visibility via coverage in over 100 TV programs on NBC, CBS, and ESPN.

* Growth in attendance at domestic track meets, with record attendance being set at the Olympic Trials, Penn Relays, Texas Relays, Drake Relays, and most other top meets over the past eight years.

* Establishment of the Zero Tolerance anti-doping policy in 2003, which expanded on USATF's anti-drug efforts that were first launched in 1989.

* Establishment of an Elite Athlete Department which overhauled USATF's relationship with and services for professional athletes.

* Rebirth of American distance running on the elite level and increased participatory growth on the grass roots level in road running and school-based track and field.

* Emergence of charity running as a powerful economic force, as charted annual by a USATF survey that indicates annual funds raised approaching $800 million.

* Increase in the number of USATF registered clubs to 2,500 and the number of USATF-sanctioned races and events to more than 5,000.

* Establishment of "America's Running Routes", an online mapping service featuring over 185,000 running routes around the country.

"It's been my privilege to work on behalf of the sport that gave me so many opportunities in life," Masback said. "I hope to be able to continue to contribute to the bright future of track and field in some capacity in the coming years."

Masback will join Nike as the Director of Business Affairs for Global Sports Marketing. In this new role he will negotiate and manage Nike's contractual relationships with athletes, sports leagues, federations and teams around the world.

USATF's search for a new CEO will begin immediately Roe said.