Commentary on USOC Decertification of USATH

The Hearing Panel Report simply states the obvious and should have explored potential remediation

The Hearing Panel focused narrowly on whether USA Team Handball was meeting the requirements for membership in the USOC and recognition as an NGB. It cited 5 areas where USA Team Handball was failing. Those 5 areas are:

1) Lack of financial resources
2) Lack of managerial capability
3) Inability to resolve member grievances
4) Lack of organizational competence
5) Incapability to promote and develop the sport

Areas 1 and 2 are, of course, are a direct result of the USOC suspending all funding to USATH. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that a bankrupt organization can not meet its financial responsibilities nor pay staff to manage itself. Areas 3 and 4 both relate to the Constitution bylaw controversy which were unfortunately not resolved by the competing factions. Area 5 is also at least partially a money related issue. Funding from the USOC has steadily declined in recent years and not surprisingly performance has also declined. Money would not solve all of USATH’s performance issues, but it’s certainly an important factor.

It shouldn’t be surprising that no one on the USATH Board contested these findings. They are all essentially true. The simple lesson here is that you don’t mess with the USOC, especially if they are your principal source of funding.

What is disappointing with the Hearing Panel’s report is its simple, narrow focus. While the Hearing Panel did not have the authority to fashion a remedial settlement there is nothing that prevented them from highlighting or suggesting potential remediation. Certainly, if you are going to take the time to research and assess what happened, you can also form an opinion on how best to proceed. Simply stating that it's up to the USOC and USATH (an organization that they also declare is incompetent) to consider potential remediation is a disappointing neglect of implied responsibility. Certainly, the Hearing Panel was able to state that they were deeply concerned about the athletes being supported. If they were truly concerned they would have tried to also to identify a potential way ahead that would address the underlying problems affecting the sport. This is not just idle chatter, as one only has to plug in “USOC”, “Taekwondo”, and “Triathlon” into Google to see some of the brinkmanship and remediation that has taken place in the past.

In this case, the USOC has decided on finality and removing USATH. In starting over it appears that Team Handball and the USOC will be heading into uncharted waters. It will be interesting to see what the next steps will be. Some questions for the coming weeks:

1) Will the USOC continue to fund the Women’s National Team Program?
2) Will the USOC provide funding for a Men’s Team be formed to participate in the PAN AM Championships in April?
3) Will the USOC provide funding for the Club National Championships and Collegiate National Championships?
4) What are the future plans for Handball Governance by the USOC?
5) Will organizations like the National Team Handball Association apply for USOC membership and NGB status?

One thought on “Commentary on USOC Decertification of USATH

  1. I'll add another question: will the USOC bother to have any team handball organization become a member? Team handball has been a money drain for decades. Why shouldn't the USOC wait until team handball can stand on its own feet before letting them join again?

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