USOC head resigns post; Resume errors costly to Baldwin
May 25, 2002
The Chicago Tribune
By Philip Hersh
Sandra Baldwin resigned Friday as president of the U.S. Olympic Committee, a day after she admitted falsifying her academic history.
Baldwin rejected an option that likely would have only delayed the inevitable. She had been offered a chance to step aside while the USOC executive committee investigated her case.
"She did what she considered best for the USOC and the Olympic movement," USOC Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Ward said. "She took full responsibility for her actions and the mistakes in her biographical sketch."
Baldwin was elected USOC president Dec. 3, 2000. She was the first woman to serve in the volunteer position since it was created in 1894.
Her resignation followed a Friday-morning conference call of the 23-member executive committee.
"I'm not surprised she decided [to resign]," said Herb Perez, and executive committee member from San Francisco. "She realized she was swimming in a tank full of sharks. She had very few friends in the room … Whatever she may have been offered, she realized the result would probably be the same."
USOC Secretary Marty Mankamyer becomes interim president until the executive committee nominates candidates to serve the rest of Baldwin's term, expiring in December 2004. Those nominations would be followed by a mail vote of the USOC board of directors.
Baldwin's USOC biography listed an undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado and a Ph.D. from Arizona State University.
But she admitted Thursday that she attended Colorado as an undergraduate for only two years before finishing her degree at Arizona State. She also said she never had a Ph.D. dissertation on Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Baldwin, a 62-yearold Phoenix real estate agent, told the executive committee she never had benefited financially from using the background information nor traded off the Ph.D. title in any way.
When asked about her dissertation by reporters after she was elected two years ago, Baldwin gave the title but did not say it was unfinished.
In a statement released Friday, she said: I want the very best for the Olympic movement. As one who believes in its ideals, I accept full responsibility for the mistakes I have made."
Thursday she described as "monumental" the scope of her failure to correct the inaccuracies.
In a Thursday conversation during which she began to cry several times, Baldwin said she was unsure of which decision to make. She first wanted to attend her granddaughter's high school graduation Thursday night.
"I'd like to see if [the USOC] can get beyond it," Baldwin said. "I believe we could, but this is a highly political organization."
Since becoming USOC president, Baldwin has gained substantial stature in international Olympic circles.
In February she became a member of the International Olympic Committee, a position contingent on being USOC president, and she was named to several IOC committees. She also was chosen a vice president of the Association of National Olympic Committees.
The discrepancies in Baldwin's record came to light while Colorado's alumni magazine prepared a profile of her.
Pam Penfold, editor of the Coloradan, said she first became suspicious when there was no record of Baldwin in the university's alumni database.
"I though everyone in the country went over their resume after George O'Leary," Penfold said. "Apparently not."
Penfold was referring to the former Notre Dame football coach who resigned in December after falsehoods were discovered in his resume.
Baldwin is the second USOC president to be forced out. In 1991 Robert Helmick resigned his USOC presidency and IOC membership after revelations he had used those positions for personal gain.
Within two weeks of Helmick's resignation, Bill Hybl was nominated by the executive committee and approved by the board of directors to serve out the year remaining in Helmick's term.