- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
The U.S. Olympic Committee ( USOC) was badly embarrassed last week when its executive director, Harvey Schiller, 48, resigned after only 16 days on the job and said he hoped to return to his former position as Southeastern Conference commissioner. Schiller, an able administrator, especially in the fields of television and marketing, cited personal reasons for his departure, but he was also known to have been frustrated by the USOC's fragmented power structure. "He's making a silent statement," said an insider at USOC headquarters in Colorado Springs. "I just hope the silent statement is loud enough for people to hear."
Schiller's decision caught almost everyone by surprise. The USOC executive directorship seemed perfect for him: It paid well ($150,000 a year), brought him back to Colorado Springs (as an Air Force officer—he's a retired colonel—he'd spent 13 years there, seven of them as a chemistry professor at the Air Force Academy) and immersed him in Olympic affairs, in which he has long been active (he was the director of boxing competition at the 1984 Summer Games). Only three days before he quit, Schiller had delivered a forward-looking speech to the USOC executive board in Atlanta that had drawn a standing ovation.
But Schiller had developed doubts about the USOC shortly after assuming his new job on Jan. 4. "He said, 'John, nobody [at the USOC] has anything good to say,' " his friend John Clune, athletic director at the Air Force Academy, told The Atlanta Constitution. "All he heard from people is how this isn't going to work, how that has to change.... I think he had the feeling that no matter how hard he worked, he wasn't going to make an impact. He wasn't going to be able to solve the USOC's problems. And Harvey is a problem solver." Howard Peterson, secretary-general of the U.S. Ski Association, expressed a similar view: "I think [ Schiller] belatedly learned that his position is responsibility without power."
As SEC commissioner, Schiller exercised much influence over conference affairs. At the USOC, he was to implement policies made by volunteer officials, most notably USOC president Robert Helmick, a Des Moines attorney and International Olympic Committee member. Schiller faced the prospect of haggling over minor issues with 37 national sports-governing bodies and an often small-minded bureaucracy, a process that, in an interview with SI's Richard Demak, he likened to "stepping on ants all the time."
Schiller is expected to continue working with the USOC in some capacity, and his successor will be the committee's longtime assistant executive director, Baaron Pittenger, a solid administrator with a low-key style. Pittenger should be able to steer the USOC through this Olympic year, but the time has come for the organization to reexamine its anachronistic structure. While volunteer involvement is laudable, the U.S.'s Olympic effort requires full-time, professional management. "You need a CEO to operate a $135 million-a-year business [like the USOC]," said Peterson. Schiller, who might have been the man to fill the bill, said, "There need to be some changes, and they have to come from the membership [of the Olympic movement]."
Veneration of St. Pete of Cincinnati continues unabated. In 1985, after Pete Rose got hit No. 4,192 to break Ty Cobb's major league career record, the Reds painted a circle and the number 4192 on the spot where the ball landed on the Riverfront Stadium AstroTurf. Now the nine-year-old carpet is being replaced with a new one, and the Reds have cut out a six-foot-by-six-foot swatch containing the holy spot for eventual inclusion in their planned Hall of Fame.
Meanwhile another item from the Rose reliquary—a window from LaVerne and Harry (Big Pete) Rose's house in the Anderson Ferry section of Cincinnati that was cracked in 1944 by a ball hit by three-year-old Pete—is likely to be preserved for posterity. In a demonstration of rather astounding prescience, Pete's proud papa insisted that the window not be repaired, and cracked it has remained for, lo, these many years.
The house, which is up for sale, has been standing empty since Pete's father died and his mother moved to Florida. Unfortunately, as a result of time and bad weather every window in the house is now cracked. Robert Williams, the president of a Cincinnati window-replacement company, has offered to remove—frame and all—the window Pete cracked and ship it to the Baseball Hall of Fame at his own expense, but the problem is identification. When Williams went to the house with his workmen, they couldn't tell one broken window from another.