Team USA Athletes' Commission Independence

Recommendation #6: Congress should strengthen athletes’ representation by making the Team USA Athletes’ Commission fully independent.

PASSING THE TORCH MODERNIZING OLYMPIC, PARALYMPIC, & GRASSROOTS SPORTS IN AMERICA: THE FINAL REPORT OF THE COMMISSION ON THE STATE OF U.S. OLYMPICS & PARALYMPICS

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How to Take Action:

We need to act NOW, and we need YOUR help to amend the Ted Stevens Act.

  • Get Involved

    • Have your signature added to the Team USA AC letter asking Congress the Act: Click Here to view the letter and Click Here to sign

    • Submit your own letter asking your Representative or Senator to Amend the Act: Click Here for a template
    • Post on social media using our graphic & tag your Representative or Senator: Click Here


  • Resources


    For more information on the Commission Report and their findings, view the resources below

    • Click Here for a one-page summary of Team USA AC Independence
    • Click Here for a summary of all 12 Recommendations
    • Read the Team USA AC Statement regarding the Commission Report, Click Here
    • To read the Final Report, Click Here

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HOW does Team USA AC being an independent entity from the USOPC benefit athletes?

    • Allows Team USA AC to fulfil its duty to protect and empower athletes;
    • Eliminates any perceived appearance of conflict with the USOPC;
    • Ensures a steady revenue stream for Team USA AC and supports the view that any method of securing independent funding MUST guarantee a revenue stream with which an empowered Team USA AC can hire professional staff with a legal duty to act in athletes’ best interests, including legal counsel who can represent athletes in a dispute;
    • Empowers Team USA AC to raise and direct funds to support athletes’ legal aid  
    • Directs Team USA AC to play an explicit role in representing athletes’ concerns to USOPC, NGBS, SafeSport,  and USADA on issues relating to arbitration processes, athlete-funding criteria, team-selection criteria, and national-team assignments;
    • Clarifies and strengthens the authority of Team USA AC to operate elections for the athlete-representative seats on UOSPC’s BOD and on the boards of the governing bodies
    • Strengthens the authority of Team USA AC to operate elections for the athlete-representative seats on UOSPC‘s BOD and the boards of the governing bodies.
For more than half a century, Team USA Athletes Commission has been empowering Team USA athletes, yet our work is just beginning. We are grateful that the Commission recognized the importance of independence from the USOPC for Team USA AC. Should the recommendations be adopted into law, the increased autonomy, clarified Congressional authority, and a steady revenue stream, sets up Team USA AC for lasting success, as the powerful voice for all Team USA athletes, past, present and future.

MARK LADWIG, Team USA AC Chair

Full Summary of Recommendation #6:

Congress should strengthen athletes’ representation by making the Team USA Athletes’ Commission fully independent

  • MISSION

    Congress should amend the Ted Stevens Act (the Act) to Clarify the Team USA AC’s duty to protect and empower athletes  

    • The Act should be amended to MAKE CLEAR that the Team USA AC has a duty to: 

      • Support and protect athletes’ rights 
      • Empower them through facilitating representation; 
      • Serve as their(athletes) resource to ensure their views and perspectives carry appropriate weight within the Movement 
      • Maximize athletes’ well-being  
      • Congress may wish to address athletes’ NIL rights and the role, if any, Team USA AC would have in supporting athletes during negotiations over licensing agreements  
  • GOVERNANCE

    • Authority to conduct periodic audits of movement institutions and processes  
    • Team USA AC should be required to submit annual reports to Congress that include an assessment of its DEI standards and practices and what efforts are being undertaken to improve them  
    • Produce semi-annual reports to the recommended new oversight office
    • Congress should clarify and strengthen the authority of the Team USA AC to operate elections for the athlete-representative seats on UOSPC ‘s BOD and on the boards of the governing bodies  
    • USOPC and NGBs must provide names and contact info for the current high-performance athletes to the Team USA AC
  • FUNDING

    Congress should amend the Act to ensure a steady revenue stream for Team USA AC and any method of securing independent funding MUST guarantee a revenue stream with which an empowered Team USA AC can hire professional staff with a legal duty to act in athletes’ best interests, including legal counsel who can represent athletes in a dispute.   

    • 3 Proposed Options:  

      • Solicit and accept tax-deductible private contributions  
      • Earmarking certain funds for it through the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Endowment  
      • Requiring that a certain percentage of revenues earned from the trademarks granted to USOPC through statute are first directed to support its budget  
        • Congress must adopt “Team USA,” which was trademarked independently by USOPC, into the list of trademarks defined as authorized to USOPC under statute—and thus included alongside “Olympics,” “Paralympics,” the rings, the agitos, and other movement-specific phrases and symbols.  
    • If Congress chooses to adopt any of the funding options under Recommendation No. 12, those sources could also be tapped to provide an independent revenue stream to the Team USA Athletes'’ Commission in the future


  • REPRESENTATION

    Explicit role in representing athletes’ concerns to USOPC, NGBS, SafeSport, and USADA on issues relating to arbitration processes, athlete-funding criteria, team-selection criteria, and national-team assignments  “Its (TEAM USA AC) approval should be required when negotiating”:

    • Team USA AC should also have a role in negotiating high-performance athletes’ eligibility for health-insurance coverage, roles concerning Section Nine and Section Ten dispute processes, and other critical issues of concern for athletes across the movement.   
      • Congress may additionally wish to permit Team USA AC to designate an external representative to assist in these efforts, such as a players’ association within a particular sport that brings unique experience and expertise to bear on athlete's’ behalf.  
    • Athlete reps through Team USA AC continue to be elected to the USOPC Board of Directors and NGB boards   

      • Congress should mandate that a minimum percentage of its athlete representatives come from winter and summer sports and from Olympic and Paralympic sports.  

     


  • DISPUTE RESOLUTION

    Team USA AC should be empowered to raise and direct funds to support athletes’ legal aid  

    • List of trusted outside attorneys, including those willing to represent athletes on a pro bono basis, when athletes seek representation.   

    • Athlete whistleblowers can safely and anonymously disclose information about malfeasance, with staff bound by rules to protect their privacy and report such information to the new public-oversight entity Congress establishes   

    • No longer be a need for USOPC to maintain an Athlete Ombuds position, and it should be eliminated so as not to confuse athletes 

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