Teleconference Excerpts With New USATF CEO Doug Logan

Doug Logan teleconference excerpts

On
Friday afternoon, new USATF CEO Doug Logan spoke to the press via media
teleconference about his background and his vision for the sport. He
was joined by USATF President Bill Roe. Below are excerpts from the
call. For a full release on Logan’s hiring, visit http://www.usatf.org/news/view.aspx?DUID=USATF_2008_07_17_20_00_26

On the search process

BILL
ROE: This is a process that, we stated several times, we wanted to do
it right rather than quickly. There were candidates we could have
pulled in at any time, including 10 minutes after Craig resigned, but
we surveyed the landscape. It probably wouldn’t have included Doug
Logan right off the bat because people were talking about candidates
with track and field experience. The search committee became so
impressed with Doug, they had the option to forward 1-3 names to the
Board. But they were so impressed with his credentials that they
forwarded a single name. Last night they approved Doug in our meeting.

DOUG
LOGAN: For those of you who I know, it’s going to be a great delight to
interact with you again. For those I don’t know, it will be good to get
to know you on a person to person basis. I’m delighted to be in this
position. This was a wonderful process to go through. I’ve gotten a
huge education from going through the process and met some wonderful
people. At the end of the day, I’m very, very enthusiastic about the
prospects for the future of USATF. We had a wonderful meeting last
night. All of the board members had an opportunity to ask me questions.
I made some opening remarks to convey to them what makes me tick. I’ve
had some successes and I’ve had some failures. I see myself as a person
who puts on his trousers one leg at a time, works hard and lets the
chips fall where they may. One of the things the (National Office)
staff will learn on Monday that I have a picture of myself dressed in
clown makeup that I hang in every office I’ve had. It’s a reminder that
I shouldn’t take myself too seriously.

I think
that you’ve seen the releases, seen my background. If no one else
begins with this issue, let me say a couple of words with regard to
drugs in the sport. This is an issue which is meaningful, important. A
couple of my friends have asked me whether it dissuaded me, the
problems the sport has had in the last few years. To be quite honest
with you, for me it became a challenge, and I certainly hope I can put
my name on the roster of people who are making a difference in ridding
ourselves of this horrible, horrible plague that exists on sports these
days.

In the last few weeks, some remarkable
performances have occurred on the track and in the pool, and it’s a
crying shame that they have to be viewed in a tent of suspicion we’ve
got. I feel strongly that a more impassioned voice has to be raised by
the people who have stewardship of sports. I told the board last night
that I plan to be one of the messengers who raises the issue in a more
impassioned way.

Q: What is your position on people who have been banned for drugs going on to coach?

DL:
This gives me a great deal of problem, that someone who has been proved
to be a cheater is now in the process of coaching others. I have a
significant amount of problems with it. I see very little difference
between someone who is using performance enhancing drugs to assist them
in competition and someone who is put in a position to encourage
others.

BILL ROE: We affect the ability of a
coach to get a credential and whether that person has a national team
staff member. A person who has a history of doping will not be
credentialed for our events and will not be national team staff members.

Q: How are you going to improve track and field?

DL:
I listed six or seven things as goals in the release that I think at
least from the beginning are the goals I’m going after. Devoting my
energies to improving the medal counts and staying at the top of the
medal charts at World Championships and Olympic Games, and to be a
passionate messenger in the battle against performance enhancing drugs.
To achieve growth in sponsorship sales, event creation and television
outreach. To be a fair and firm agent for change as we undergo
restructuring. To increase grass roots membership and improve our
relationship with the IAAF, IOC and others, and finally to address an
internal issue but a very, very important issue, to institute a
customer service culture in the National Office.

Q: How do you plan to get more track on TV that you don’t have to pay for?

DL:
That has a relatively complicated answer that first of all requires an
understanding that sports is entertainment, and that what you provide
people has to be entertaining. I’ve been going to track meets my whole
life. I remember the seat I was in at Madison Square garden, watching
the Wanamaker Mile as Ron Delaney slapped down those boards. It’s a
rhythmic, pastoral experience, but unfortunately it’s one that has some
trouble translating into television. We have to come up with some norms
that fit better into a television broadcast. At the same time, the
authenticity and purity of the competition can’t be tampered with. It
needs to be in a more regular (TV time) slot. There needs to be some
form of ascendant competition. I think the US Open is doing things very
right. I think the Fed Ex Cup was brilliant. Those are the things we’ve
go t to look at in terms of making the television product different
than the one that exists right now.

We’ve got a
sport that’s easily marketed and is seen as a red-blooded sport. But I
think it’s a combination of events, venues, a little showmanship,
regularity, and finally some way of measuring ascendancy and reaching
some sort of climax or ascendancy.

Q: Track and
field is unique in its diversity, with a lot of different disciplines.
How do you plan to reconcile that vis-ÌÊ-vis restructuring
and your own operational governance?

DL: The issue
of commonality. Basically, at the end of the day, for most of the
activities that occur, it’s one foot in a sneaker in front of another
on a repetitive basis or one jump or one throw followed by another.
While those with separate constituencies may see differences, there is
at least a rational way of saying this tent we’ve got can enable to
flourish all the disciplines inside of it.

In the
opening remarks, I indicated to you that reorganization is not going to
be comfortable. There are certain groups that will feel
disenfranchised. In the process of what the board goes through, during
the process, we need very open lines of communication with all of the
constituent groups of USATF. Make sure they wind up with mechanisms
that empower them on an ongoing basis, make them see that in certain
modalities they can make their opinions and voices heard and they can
have their turf protected, even though they may not have a single,
go-to person on a board of directors. Make them see this board has got
to reorganize itself in the realities of the 21st century.
It’s a huge job, one that I pledge myself to. It’s one that I walk into
understanding that not everybody is going to be comfortable with that.

Q: What is the structure and makeup of the new board?

BILL
ROE: The Board was very close to achieving restructuring last year.
Although it was under a USOC mandate, we had undertaken it on our own.
We were very close to having a 13-member board. What broke down at that
point was how do we arrive at the selection of the board, so we put
that on the back burner. The USOC wanted us to move ahead faster. Where
we’ve arrived at is almost the same place when we were on our own. I
think we’re going to arrive at a good place.

Q: Doug, what are your priorities for first 100 days?

DL:
I can tell you what I want to achieve in the first 30 days. In the
first 30 to 60 days, I’m going to be a huge sponge. Those of you who
know me know I’m a pretty quick study. I’m going to take track on
one-on-one and I’ve got some good teachers. I’ve got probably 100
volunteers on my PC screen right now. I will talk to fans, coaches,
athletes, officials, members of the press and sponsors – everybody
involved in the sport at one level or another. It would be a disservice
for me to jump in and be presumptuous that I have answers before I
undergo that process. Beyond that, we’ve got a wonderful Olympic Team
that I hope to be joining early in the process in Beijing, and
hopefully we will come out of that competition with a number of medals
greater to or equal to what we’ve had in the past. I think we’ve got a
great team, and I look forward to that competition and supporting our
team in the best way we know how.

We’ve got a
reorganization going on and a series of meetings. I’d like to offer
whatever resources I’ve got to those organizational efforts. I’ve got
other stuff to do. I’ve got a very able staff that Craig put together
to sit down with and talk to, let them know what doing business with me
is all about and what being my colleague is all about. I’ve got a group
of volunteers to get to know and this wide range of Associations. I’ll
be spending long days, lots of nights and lots of weekends.

Q: Soccer and track have some similarities in being global sports that struggle to gain a foothold in the U.

S.

DL:
I think you’re correct in assessing that both soccer and track and
field are worldwide sports idioms that don’t necessarily have the kind
of following and support in this country as they have many other
countries in the world. I will tell you, without denigrating the prior
sport I was involved with, that as opposed to soccer, track and field
is not seen as something that is foreign. It is seen as something that
is native, and in that way it is an easier sell than that we had with
soccer, including with sports writers of a certain generation to whom
it was hard to sell soccer as a sport. Hopefully the lessons I learned
with soccer, trying to sell it domestically and our relations
internationally, will be helpful to me.

Q: How long is your contract?

DL: it’s for a five year plus period of time. It is through the next quadrennial at least.

Q: What can you do on the drugs issue? USATF does no testing.

DL:
I think that testing is what testing is. It’s becoming more and more
sophisticated every day yet I don’t know if we’re gaining on the
problem or not. I think that relying on testing and disciplining and
sanctioning is really not addressing the overall issue, which is that
there needs to be a cultural reversal with regard to how people look
and feel about the issue of people cheating. I think that has been the
missing component so far, and hopefully I will be able to mobilize
others. At least in the inception, I plan to be a far more passionate
messenger for the sport in its battle against these ways of cheating.
My message is, “If you are cheating, get out. If you are suggesting as
a coach or agent or personal manager to a young person to use some of
these substances, get out.” We will find ways of getting these people
out of the sport. What we need to do is to create an environment where
the young man or young woman four lockers down who knows someone is
dirty starts to feel comfortable in expressing their disdain for that
individual and be supportive of the 94, 96, 97 percent who are
competing in a fair way and clean way.

Q: Can you talk about your own running?

DL:
I have been running since I was in the military service, so that’s a
long, long time. I’ve got a lot of miles on hard pavement and bad shoes
behind me. I’ve got some terrible arthritic ankles. I can only run
every third day because of the swelling I get. A sane person would say
stop running, which tells you a little bit about how I feel about
running. The second day it’s a lot of ice and some ibuprofen. I try to
get out and run, if you call it running, about 2.5 to 3 miles every
third day.

Q: Bill, why did USATF go with an outsider?

BILL
ROE: I don’t think our panel was tied to outside or inside. We were
looking for someone with vision with leadership, with a thick rolodex.
It wasn’t going to be tied necessarily to in or out of the sport. In
Doug’s case, he stood head and shoulders above even before that was
considered.

Q: Were you at the Olympic Trials?

DL:
Yes I was. I had not attended a competition at Hayward Field before.
I’ll tell you, from the standpoint of the drama of the competition and
the involvement of the fan base that was there, and the festival-like
spirit that was out there, that was as magical experience as any Super
Bowl or World Cup or US Open I’ve been in. It had different elements to
it, but it was marvelous. The weather cooperated and there were great
performances. There was just a magical feel to it and it was done in
what was a Fenway Park or Wrigley Field and there was a lot of
authenticity to it.

Unfortunately, the majority of
the general sports audiences didn’t really get a sense of what was
going on. It taught me a marvelous lesson. I was excited about the
prospects of this job before, but those 3 days closed the deal for me.

Q: Do any of your priorities have to do with venue? MLS improved when it got soccer-specific venues.

DL:
The simple answer is yes. It needs its own distinctive collection of
venues, not a single national stadium. A wide variety of them, they can
be old and new. I think there need to be more domestic competitions
that are attractive and in many instances that are linked in the form
of a circuit that, together with using existing venues that we can get
some degree of partnership. Getting into the business of building
modern-day venues is going to be one of the solutions we can bring
forward, but we’re a ways away from that.

Q: How do you create destination athletes? NBA and other sports have them.

DL:
You’re comparing team sports to individual sports. This is a sport that
has stars who all of a sudden become recognized but then every four
years, people lose sight of them until the next quadrennial comes
along. Skating has the same kind of problem, gymnastics has that
problem. We have to keep people interested in the system. We have to
put ourselves in a position of fostering increased domestic competition
that is entertaining and is for the long haul.

Q: What is the single most important thing you’ll be judged on?

DL:
If you were to sit back after five years, let’s say I was a believer in
the Spartan oath or Athenian oath, “Did I leave the place in a better
place than I started?” Growing the sport into a better value than it is
at this time. Two, turning the tide in performance enhancing drugs so
everyone is unified in playing a part in casting out the evil that
exists in our midst. And three, perhaps it will be said that during the
difficult time of transition for the organization, he exercised maybe
an iron fist and velvet glove and created something that is better.

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