USA Gymnastics announced Friday that its entire board of directors will resign, complying with demands issued by the United States Olympic Committee earlier this week in response to rising national outrage over the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal.
The Indianapolis-based Olympic sports organization, which oversees Team USA gymnasts and develops elite ranks of the sport through member clubs across the country, has drawn intense criticism from some of its most prominent stars – most notably, Olympic gold medalist and Nassar victim Aly Raisman – for permitting what victims have said was lax oversight and an abusive culture of unconditioned compliance that permitted Nassar to assault gymnasts at the Karolyi Ranch outside Houston and at competitions around the globe.
Among other Olympians who have asserted abuse by Nassar, the former longtime team physician for the national women’s team, are McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles, Jordyn Wieber and Jamie Dantzscher. On Wednesday, a judge sentenced Nassar to 40 to 175 years in prison for 10 sexual assault counts in Michigan. Nassar also faces a 60-year federal prison term for child pornography crimes.
Three top USA Gymnastics board members resigned Monday, but minutes after a judge announced Nassar’s sentence Wednesday, the U.S. Olympic Committee announced more changes were needed, including a turnover of the organization’s entire board and an independent investigation of the culpability of both officials at USA Gymnastics and the USOC for Nassar’s crimes. The USOC, which oversees Olympic governing bodies, threatened to decertify USA Gymnastics, stripping the organization’s association with the Olympics, if it did not comply.
The announcement caps a complete overhaul of leadership for the beleaguered Olympic sports organization since Nassar was outed as a child molester in late 2016. Last March, also under pressure from the USOC, Steve Penny resigned as chief executive of USA Gymnastics.
Victims and their attorneys have been calling for such changes and an independent inquiry of both USA Gymnastics and the USOC, but both Olympic organizations had resisted the measures until this past week, when the seven-day sentencing hearing for Nassar – which featured heart-wrenching, emotional testimony from 156 girls and women who asserted abuse – galvanized national outrage over the case and calls from federal lawmakers at both the Olympic organizations and Michigan State University, which where Nassar worked as an assistant professor and a sports physician at a campus clinic.
To reach a sexual assault advocate, call the Statewide Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Line at 800-871-7741, TTY 888-458-5599. This free and confidential 24-hour service is accessible from anywhere in Maine. Calls are automatically routed to the closest sexual violence service provider.