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USA Gymnastics scrambles amid scandal

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Kerry Perry, the CEO of USA Gymnastics (USAG), was forced to resign as a result of how she managed the USAG in the midst of the Larry Nassar scandal, in which Nassar – the team doctor – was accused of sexual abuse by more than 300 women. As of writing this, no CEO has been named to fill the position.

Many gymnastics fans are celebrating Perry’s resignation, saying it was a long time coming. However, focus has  now shifted to Ron Galimore, the chief operating officer. Galimore has held his position since 2011.

According to emails attained by The Indy Star – the newspaper that first broke the story of sexual abuse in gymnastics back in 2015 – Galimore helped cover for Nassar’s absence from competitions. Scott D. Himsel, Nassar’s lawyer, told him that his techniques were being investigated and that it would be best for him not to attend competition in 2015. Nassar asked if they could tell people that he was sick. Himsel responded: “We’ll let Ron know to advise people that you weren’t feeling well and decided to stay home.”

Despite the changes and these emails, Galimore still retains his position and has not been subject to media scrutiny. If USAG wants to prove that it can change, then Galimore needs to be fired.

However, fixing USAG won’t be as simple as firing Galimore. USAG needs to completely change their culture and they need to be strategic about it. They cannot only react when confronted with media pressure, a highlight of Perry’s leadership.

Perry closed down the Karolyi Ranch, the site where many elite gymnasts were abused, after Simone Biles tweeted about how hard it would be for her to return. Perry did not purpose an alternate training location or tell the gymnasts, who had already purchased plane tickets. The gymnasts were left scrambling and confused.

Rhonda Faehn, a member of the old guard, was fired a week before Perry was set to testify before Congress. Fans agreed Rhonda needed to go, but they thought the middle of a training camp was not the right time. The gymnasts at the camp were once again left confused and felt ignored. Mary Lee Tracy was hired and fired within three days following media scrutiny.

Going forward, USAG needs to be proactive and not wait to react following criticism. Making proactive changes would allow less turmoil among the gymnasts in the system. It also needs a leader sympathetic to the gymnasts. I wish the new leader luck but I’m going to be suspicious.