The American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) has announced that it will replace current CEO John Leonard after 35 years at the helm. TSE/BCW consulting director Steve Roush will take over at the beginning of 2020.
ASCA announced the move today in a press release. Leonard will remain in his post through the end of 2019 and “then assist Steve Roush through the new year and beyond.” Roush will begin his tenure as CEO on January 1.
Roush comes to ASCA from Burson Cohn & Wolfe (BCW), where he is the director. BCW is a business consulting line launched by global consulting firm TSE.
Swimming fans might recognize TSE – and it has an interesting connection to ASCA and Leonard. TSE made swimming headlines in 2017, when FINA presidential candidate Paolo Barelli criticized FINA Vice President Dale Neuburger, who works with TSE. Barelli alleged that Neuburger’s association with TSE created a conflict of interest with his FINA duties. In particular, Barelli was upset that TSE ran the campaign of his competitor for LEN (the European aquatics federation) president. Barelli filed official ethics complaints that were eventually rejected, and he lost his bid for FINA president, but his campaign very publicly called out FINA’s current leadership for conflicts of interest and ethics violations.
The ASCA connection to all this is through Leonard, who has also been a vocal critic of FINA leadership. Last spring, Leonard wrote an open letter calling for Neuburger’s replacement (Neuburger is retiring in 2021) to be “intent on change.” While Leonard didn’t criticize Neuburger or TSE by name in that letter, he very strongly called for the new FINA Bureau rep to be “free of conflicting interests from their gainful employment” and “corruption free” while touching on many of the same topics that Barelli did in criticizing Neuburger’s TSE connection.
The ASCA press release praises Leonard for his years at the helm, but Leonard himself is not quoted about his successor. You can see the full press release here.
Roush joined BCW when it was launched in 2009. Prior to that, he worked with the U.S. Olympic Committee, first as a Sports Partnership Director, then as Chief of Sport Performance. He was also the Assistant Executive Director of USA Swimming from 1994 to 2000.