Bill Roe press conference excerpts


Jill Geer
Director of Communications
USA Track & Field

USATF President/Acting CEO Bill Roe on Tuesday spoke with the media at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field. Below are excerpts from his remarks.

It's great to be here in Eugene. Obviously this is one of our best Olympic Trials ever. Just a comment last night from our Olympic Weight [Throws] Coach, Criss Somerlot, who came off the field from the weight throw, wondered what all the commotion was about in the 800 which had taken place while he was out of the stadium. I said, "I can tell you in very short order, 'Oregon Track Club, Oregon, Oregon Track Club.' He said, "they should be charging for people to leave tonight." I thought that was indicative of the many comments.

A couple of highlights include the classic finish by Amy Yoder Begley [in the women's 10,000] was an amazing effort to get the A standard and to be on the team. I thought maybe one of the more humorous moments came when Dan O'Brien was interviewing Brian Clay after the narrow miss of Dan's record. I think he's still sighing that breath of relief.

The LOC here has done a fantastic job. I want to thank particularly two people on our staff who have made it an easy effort for me in keeping the transition going after Craig (Masback) left the position so that I didn't have to get into the daily nitty-gritty of putting on a Trials event last minute. Sandy Snow and Brian Brase have just done a great job for us in keeping the show moving.

I'd like to thank also, Nike, our number one partner. The vision that has been exemplified by all the various extras that have gone on is just indicative of the commitment by everyone, from Phil (Knight) on down to the whole organization. Excellence is the word of the day and they've done a great job of keeping things lively for the fans. I'm so impressed with the fan fare [Fan Expo]. 8,000 people a day at the Fan Fare is an incredible addition to the Trials. Especially when you have a stadium that seats 15,000 - getting another 8,000 people a day actively involved in the Trials has been a great way to do it.

On the CEO Search

I would like to be in this job [acting CEO] as few days as possible. It's already been a few more days than I anticipated. My original goal for bringing on a CEO was June 1, but in an Olympic year, everything and anything happens. So, that date got pushed back a little bit. We're still moving forward very rapidly.

The search committee is working very hard. It's a completely independent search committee of our Board of Directors. There's not a board member on the search committee. It's made up of, among other people, Bob Greifeld, the Chairman of NASDAQ, John Bennett for whom we have named our decathlon award. He's the man who brought the Visa Decathlon program to USATF a number of years, ago. Also former Olympic Coach, Deanne Vochatzer, Adam Nelson, who is well known to all of you and was not particularly happy with his shot put performance the other night but has been happy to serve on this committee, and a few others. They have been doing this process independently so that we can get the best possible CEO that we can get for USA Track and Field. That's my goal. Rather than do it fast, we're going to do it right and get an exemplary replacement for Craig as soon as we can.

On Board restructuring and work with the USOC :

Many of you have also read about our USOC involvement. I can tell you that I met with [USOC CEO] Jim Scherr and [USOC Chief of Sport Performance] Steve Roush as they enjoyed the first few days of our Trials. I can tell you that my personal relation, and my relations as President, with all of our USOC folks is exemplary. I count those people as very good associates of the sport and very good partners of the sport.

We've been working toward restructuring along the lines as they have promoted. Their own board shrunk from 124 people down to nine in 2003. We've been working toward that for quite a while. The only glitch in the whole process was that we wanted to take a little more time than they were comfortable with. They wanted that process to be competed sooner rather than later. So we had a little disagreement on the time schedule and that resulted in the letter that was apparently made public at the end of May.

We've satisfied their demands in that letter currently and are fully on board with them in having restructuring concluded by December. Most of the Board Members will be non-constituent representation. That was one of their two main objectives with the board as governance. As an organization, we should be spending as little as possible on governance and having governance noise be kept to a minimum. Our focus should be on the athletes and events and program. That's what our common goal has been. The only difference has been our time tables.

On the IAAF:

Many of you know that [IAAF President] Lamine Diack was here. We introduced him to the crowd. We brought him around to a series of events just so he could meet people. Mr. Diack and I have had conversations for years, hoping we could get an event on the IAAF World Series here in the United States. It's been my fond desire to bring the World Cross Country Championships to American soil for the first time since 2002. We've been working very hard, as a matter of fact we have two very dedicated cities working to bring the Cross Country Championships to the U.S., and we're going to have to choose one of them. I suppose that's a great position to be in.

We also have four or five other cities that have expressed interest. It's going to be a six or seven city process to determine one to make a bid to the IAAF to put the Cross Country championships back in the U.S., in 2010 or 2011. That's our goal. That's my goal for the end of the year before my term expires, to place a World Cross Country. But President Diack isn't satisfied with that. He wants to see us be able to host a World Athletic Series event on the track and field side as well.

On the athletes who have made the Olympic Team thus far:

I think it's a very strong team. I'm surprised by the strength in some of the events. We've obviously again demonstrated why we have Trials and why we pick our team in trial-by-fire here on the track. Because we get some people who may not have been on anybody's list to make the team. It's always fun to see how they will compete once they get on the track in Beijing. There area some exceptional veterans, led by some incredible people in the shot put once again for us. In the 400 meters, we're going to have all the strength we can hope for. In the 400 hurdles, we're excellent. I could go on and on. You can see the strength that we have.

One thing the USOC did say is that they wish they could import the Oregon fans to Beijing in the 800 so those guys would be as inspired as they were last night. With that kind of crowd support you're going to do some great things.