Baldwin quits as USOC president
May 24, 2002
The Associated Press
U.S. Olympic Committee president Sandra Baldwin resigned Friday, a day after she admitted lying about her academic credentials. The announcement was made following a conference call between Baldwin and USOC Executive Committee members. Baldwin told USOC chief executive Lloyd Ward her resignation was effective immediately.
"I want the best for the Olympic movement and, as one who believes in its ideals, I accept full responsibility for the mistakes I have made," Baldwin said in a statement. "The USOC, our athletes and our volunteer will always have a special place in my heart."
After abruptly leaving an international Olympic meeting in Malaysia on Wednesday, Baldwin admitted that academic information in her official biography was inaccurate.
She had claimed that she graduated from the University of Colorado in 1962 and earned a doctorate from Arizona State in 1967. Baldwin said Thursday that she actually graduated from Arizona State in 1962 after leaving Colorado three years earlier and never completed her dissertation.
"This is the most dignified thing to do," International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said. "It's a great loss for the USOC and the Olympic movement."
Rogge said Baldwin would automatically lose her IOC seat, which she gained in February. Association of National Olympic Committees president Mario Vazquez Rana confirmed that Baldwin will relinquish her position as the organization's vice president.
She also will give up her spot on the Pan American Sports Organization's executive committee.
"I think it's pity that it's come to this," IOC vice president Kevan Gosper said. "OK, she made an error." You don't go through life without making errors. She's been a good woman and she's worked well as president. She certainly opened up the communications very well with the IOC. She'll be a loss to sport."
The USOC said it will begin looking for a replacement immediately.
American IOC member Anita DeFrantz said under USOC rules, the vice president-secretary will hold the office until a permanent replacement is sought. Mary Mankamyer is the current secretary.
"She considered it very carefully, and I think it was the right thing for her to do for herself," DeFranz said early Saturday from Malasyia. "I applaud the dignity with which she has acted. Her actions present the USOC with the opportunity to focus on our present and our future."
Baldin's resignation is the latest in a string of USOC members relinquishing their posts under pressure.
In 1991, president Robert Helmick resigned after being accused of using the position for personal gain. He was the first IOC member to resign under pressure.
Alfredo La Mont, the USOC's senior director of international relations and protocol, stepped down in 1999 after revealing an undisclosed business relationship with a former member of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.
The USOC most recently went through a lengthy search to replace CEO Norm Blake, who resigned under pressure in October 2000. Ward replaced Blake in October.
"The organization is made up of people and people have faults," DeFrantz said. "In my opinion, the question is whether the flaws of human nature disturb the possibility of success for the organization. We're all human."
American IOC vice president Jim Easton said the conference call with Baldwin lasted about 2 ½ hours, then she spoke with Ward in private.
"At the start, she was hoping she could stay on," Easton said early Saturday from Malaysia. "I'm sad about the whole thing. I'm glad she did it in a good style for the USOC. It was tough for her to do. She's done a great job for the Olympic movement. She walked in from the bottom up. It's a sad day for the USOC, but I admire what she had the courage to do at the end."
Baldwin rushed home from Malaysia after learning a reporter for Colorado's alumni association noticed discrepancies in her biography.
Tori Peglar, a reporter for The Coloradan, was doing some background work for a profile when she found that Baldwin was not listed on the school's database nor did the registrar's office have record of her graduating. She also found that Baldwin did not receive a doctorate from Arizona State.
Peglar spoke with Baldwin on the phone about the discrepancies on Monday, and Baldwin admitted the information was false.
"This is an emotional time for Sandy and for the Olympic family," Ward said in a statement. "She did what she considered best for the USOC and the Olympic movement. She took full responsibility for her actions and the mistakes in her biographical sketch."
Baldwin's admission is the latest in a string of inaccurate biographies among sports figures.
The most widely publicized case came in December, when George O'Leary lost the football coaching job at Notre Dame after he lied about academic and athletic accomplishments.
Former Colorado State women's basketball coach Tom Collen resigned from Vanderbilt on May 2 after inaccuracies were found on his resume.
Baldwin, 62, became the USOC's first woman president and chairman of the board when she was elected to replace Bill Hybl in December 2000. She was a vice president for the USOC from 1996-00 after serving as treasurer for four years. Baldwin has served on the USOC's board of directors since 1985.
"Throughout her career, Sandy consistently did the hardest jobs in the United State Olympic Committee and often at times when no one else would do them," Hybl said.
Baldwin declined to comment.