The U.S. Olympic Committee named Sarah Hirshland, formerly an official with the United States Golf Association, its new chief executive on Thursday.
Hirshland will be tabbed with steering the organization through a pivotal period of change and uncertainty. The governing body for Olympic sports in the United States continues to face congressional scrutiny and is awaiting the results of an independent investigation that might explain the USOC’s role in and knowledge of the decades-long abuse perpetrated by USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, a convicted child molester accused by more than 330 girls and women of sexual abuse.
“The USOC is at a critical time in its history and requires an energetic, creative and inspiring leader who is capable of building on past success while making sure that the athletes we serve are protected, supported and empowered in every possible way,” USOC Chairman Larry Probst said in a statement.
Hirshland most recently served as chief commercial officer for the USGA and was responsible for that organization’s media and content distribution, corporate partnerships, merchandise and licensing, marketing and communications. She previously worked for Wasserman Media Group under Casey Wasserman, chair of the LA 2028 committee that successfully won hosting rights for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
Hirshland replaces Scott Blackmun, who resigned in February in the wake of the sex abuse scandal that rocked USA Gymnastics. She will be the organization’s fourth chief executive since a 2003 management and ethics scandal prompted congressional hearings and forced a restructuring of the organization.
“To be invited to lead the Olympic and Paralympic community in the United States, to be associated with Team USA, and to have the honor and privilege of serving America’s athletes is an absolute dream come true,” Hirshland said in a statement. “I also recognize the challenges ahead as we navigate this critical moment in the USOC’s history. We must protect, support and empower athletes, young and old, elite and beginner. Olympic and Paralympic sport in the United States must be a shining example, able to provide athletes with the benefits of participation in an environment free from abuse of any kind.”
The USOC has been under fire following sex scandals across several sports, most prominently the Nassar controversy. At a May hearing held by a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) blasted the organization, saying, “The USOC is more concerned about its own reputation and about medals and money than it is about athlete safety.”
Susanne Lyons had served as the organization’s acting CEO since March, following Blackmun’s resignation.
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