Bowing to the demands of the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics confirmed Friday night that the remaining members of its board of directors would resign — the latest fallout from a widespread sexual abuse scandal involving the federation’s longtime national team doctor, Lawrence G. Nassar.
The announcement came one day after the head of the Olympic committee threatened in an email to decertify USA Gymnastics — the sport’s national governing body — if its entire board of more than 20 people did not resign by Wednesday. Several board members, including the chairman, Paul Parilla, had already resigned by the time the email was sent.
The email, signed by the head of the Olympic committee, Scott Blackmun, made a total of six demands, which included seating an interim board by the end of February.
Late Thursday, USA Gymnastics responded to the email saying it “completely embraces the requirements” outlined in the letter and pledged to “work with the USOC to accomplish change for the betterment of our organization, our athletes and our clubs.”
Then, Friday night, USA Gymnastics released a one-sentence statement that clearly stated that “USA Gymnastics will comply with the USOC requirements.” It did not explicitly address the board resignation, although that was among the requirements.
As of Friday, the USA Gymnastics website that once listed its board of directors was redirecting readers to a page about the 2018 American Cup. A cached version of the website from Tuesday lists 18 directors, not including the three members of the board’s executive leadership who had resigned the day before. USA Gymnastics bylaws say the board shall consist of 21 directors.
USA Gymnastics, which sets the sports rules and policies and selects the teams for the Olympics, has been widely derided for its handling of the sexual abuse scandal involving Nassar; many gymnasts were sharply critical of the governing body last week and this week at Nassar’s sentencing in court in Ingham County, Michigan. (Nassar was sentenced on Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison for multiple sex crimes.)
The Olympic committee has also come under fire for failing to hold the gymnastics federation accountable for its failures. In his email Thursday, Blackmun wrote that USA Gymnastics needed “a categorically fresh start at the board level,” adding that “reform must start with an entirely new board.”
“Our position comes from a clear sense that USAG culture needs fundamental rebuilding,” he wrote in the email, adding later “that the circumstances that led to this crisis demand our attention and intervention.”
Last March, Steve Penny resigned as president of USA Gymnastics, as the governing body began to grapple with the sexual assault scandal that would embroil it in the coming months.
The scandal has also consumed Michigan State University, which employed Nassar for decades. The university’s president resigned late Wednesday amid mounting state and federal investigations into how much the college knew of Nassar’s behavior and when.
The university’s athletic director also announced his resignation Friday.