USA Swimming today announced a change to its governance structure that includes shifting the entire focus of the Board of Directors.
Historically, the Board of Directors have been focused on operations; with the change, which USA Swimming calls a “modernization,” it will instead focus on being a governance board. That means that the board will have less influence on day-to-day decision-making and operating, and take more of a high-level guidance role.
The Board will now have 15 voting members: 3 athletes, 3 coaches, and 9 at-large members. The BOD will also take some authority away from the House of Delegates – which is the at-large voters that represent USA Swimming‘s 400,000 members. Now the Board of Directors, instead of the membership, will assume authority over budget and a portion of the corporate bylaws of USA Swimming. Other portions of the bylaws will still lie within the control of the House of Deligates.
The House of Delegates will “will retain authority on rules of the sport, composition of the House of Delegates, size and manner of election of the Board of Directors, and changes to membership fees in existing categories.”
The changes took place after an outside consultant performed a Governance Assessment and gave 10 key recommendations.
Update: The USA Swimming press release says that the Board of Directors now has authority over the bylaws. USA Swimming president Jim Sheehan has clarified that they only take over a portion of the bylaws.
A full outline of the changes, courtesy USA Swimming, is below:
DALLAS, Texas – USA Swimming today announced substantive governance restructure changes, created two new membership categories and officially adopted resolutions to help swimmers in disaster-impacted areas.
The Board governance review included a change in its job description, to be more future-focused, and will reduce its size. The current operations-focused board will transition to a governance-focused Board and go from 35 members to 15.
The review of the governance structure was taken on to better position the organization for the future to achieve its “Build, Promote & Achieve” goals and create a more strategic-focused Board of Directors. It was a nearly 18-month process initiated by the Board and the appointment of a Board Governance Task Force chaired by Bill Schalz, and supported by governance consulting firm Charney Associates.
“This is a monumental day for the sport of swimming and our organization,” said Jim Sheehan, USA Swimming Board of Directors Chair. “This is a healthy change for USA Swimming and presents an opportunity for us to become a more forward-thinking organization and function more effectively from Board to staff to support our 400,000 members. I applaud our Board of Directors and House of Delegates for making this key change for the future of the organization.”
Key elements of the plan include:
- The 15 voting members will consist of three athlete members, three coaches and the balance of nine “at large” members elected by the House of Delegates, including two semi-independent directors and the past Board Chair, to ensure diversity of perspective, geography and expertise
- The President/CEO and Secretary/General Counsel will serve as ex-officio, non-voting members
- A revision for the Board Chair’s role to align with the board’s governance duties and functions and eliminate redundancy with the position description of the President/CEO
- The Board will shift its focus to being a governance-focused board vs. its current operations-focused Board
- There will no longer be an Executive Committee; and the Board will elect its own officer positions including Board Chair, Vice Chair and Vice Chair Fiscal Oversight
- A nominating committee will be added as a standing committee to present candidates to the House of Delegates
- The Board will assume authority over budget and bylaws, which was previously held by the House of Delegates
- The House of Delegates will retain authority on rules of the sport, composition of the House of Delegates, size and manner of election of the Board of Directors, and changes to membership fees in existing categories
- Additional details can be found at www.usaswimming.org/boardgovernance
“The changes passed are a testament to the vision of so many in the organization and evidence that the organization is willing to take a bold step to continually improve,” said Schalz. “I am very proud to be part of such a dedicated group and want to thank all the task force members including Julie Bare, Michael Gibbons, Richard Pockat, Trent Staley and staff liaison Pat Hogan for investing their time and expertise in this project. Also, I would like to add a special thanks to our consultant Bill Charney of Charney Associates for his insightful expertise and dedication that went above and beyond.”
The new structure will begin a phased process of implementation with some changes taking effect immediately and going through 2018.
Two New Membership Categories
USA Swimming House of Delegates also approved the addition of two new membership categories, including a junior coach membership and a flexible, or “flex” membership. These are the first membership changes since 2005 which included a single meet membership for open water. Both memberships will be available Sept. 1, 2018.
USA Swimming recorded its highest year-round athlete membership to date in July 2017 with 354,036 members and a 15.2 percent increase in membership over 2016. Though promising, USA Swimming has seen a 9.2% decline in new members compared to the 2013 post-Olympic year. The addition of the new flex member category is effort to evolve with the changing youth sports market and attract more entry-level children and families to the sport.
Both memberships will positively impact the introduction of new members in different ways:
The junior coach member category will focus on current or former swimmers ages 16 and 17 who wish to serve as assistant coaches on-deck and at swim meets. Presently, USA Swimming requires coaches to be a minimum age of 18, so the addition of this category will require supervision by a member coach 18-and-over at all times, as well as extensive pre-employment screening.
The new flexible member category (known as “flex membership”) is designed to serve as a more attractive option to entry-level children and families to bridge into the sport full-time for $20 per year with $10 going to the Local Swimming Committee and $10 to USA Swimming. The flex membership will allow teams to get creative with their programs to grow membership long-term with programs such as learn-to-swim lessons, pre-team programs and summer league programs. Those with the flexible membership will receive benefits such as the ability to participate in two USA Swimming sanctioned events each year, USA Swimming insurance coverage and the $20 flexible membership cost will go towards a year-round membership should the athlete member transition within the same membership year.
“USA Swimming has a great track-record of retaining members, but we would like to be stronger in continuously attracting new members into the sport,” said Pat Hogan, Club Development Managing Director. “Both new member categories will give us a foothold in the 5- to 7-year-old range with the aim of welcoming the next generation of swimmers. It is our hope that the new member categories will create sustainable, long-term revenue for teams and become a great way to introduce kids to the sport.”
The existing membership categories will remain, and both new member categories will be optional for teams to implement.
USA Swimming will offer education opportunities and promotional tools for swim teams to learn more about the new categories and implement within their communities.
For more information on the new member categories and educational opportunities visitwww.usaswimming.org.
Disaster Relief Resolutions
Due to the extraordinary and monumental devastation and destruction of hurricanes in the U.S. this season, USA Swimming recognizes that member athletes have been displaced from not only their homes but their swim clubs as well. USA Swimming believes enabling displaced athletes to be included as part of a team is also part of the recovery process. To support this, the House of Delegates passed the resolution that will grant a temporary exception to the 120-day representation rule to allow swimmers to swim with other teams. Typically, swimmers must wait 120 days in order to switch teams for competitions. This will be effective immediately and expire at the closing of the House of Delegates in September 2018.
2017 Board of Directors Elections
The following members have been elected or re-elected to serve on the Board of Directors:
- Dale Ammon – Western Zone (non-coach), elected to two-year term
- John Bradley – Central Zone (coach), re-elected to two-year term
- Mary Turner – Eastern Zone Director (non-coach), re-elected to two-year term
- John Roy – Southern Zone (coach), re-elected to two-year term
For a complete list of the Board of Directors please visit www.usaswimming.org.