U.S. Olympic Committee Chief Resigns The acting CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee has stepped down five days after Chicago's stunning first-round elimination in the bidding for the 2016 Olympics. Stephanie Streeter took the helm of the USOC just seven months ago; she was the group's fifth CEO in nine years.
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U.S. Olympic Committee Chief Resigns

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U.S. Olympic Committee Chief Resigns

U.S. Olympic Committee Chief Resigns

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

Now that Chicago is out of the race to host the 2016 Olympics, so is the acting CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee. Stephanie Streeter says she's stepping down after just seven months. She was the fifth person to take the CEO job in nine years. And that leadership turnover is blamed, in part, for Chicago's failed Olympic bid.

NPR's Howard Berkes has more.

HOWARD BERKES: Stephanie Streeter says she decided to leave the United States Olympic Committee weeks before Friday's rejection of Chicago's Olympic bid.

NORRIS: My decision is really about returning to the corporate sector. And I love running large companies. And it seems like this is the right time to step away.

BERKES: Streeter and U.S. Olympic board chairman Larry Probst acknowledged that a corporate whiz does not necessarily make the best U.S. Olympic CEO. And Probst admitted that Streeter and her four immediate predecessors did not have the international sports and political acumen needed to bring the Olympics back to America.

NORRIS: We don't have political capital. We don't have leverage. And we need to have more of a presence in the international community and with the International Olympic Committee.

BERKES: The relationship between the U.S. and the International Olympic Committee is complicated. American corporate and television revenues are the biggest sources of Olympic funds, but some IOC members resent that as a kind of American Olympic imperialism. Resentment of U.S. foreign policy seeps into Olympic politics. And Streeter and Probst invited even more resentment when they announced a U.S. Olympic TV network, which seemed to compete with an existing Olympic television arrangement worth billions to the IOC.

NORRIS: Stephanie has been a big proponent of accountability, and somebody's got to be accountable.

BERKES: Alan Abrahamson writes the "Olympic Insider" column for UniversalSports.com. And he says the U.S. Olympic Committee is clearly to blame for the weak support for Chicago's Olympic bid.

NORRIS: This was the best bid the United States has ever put together. You even had a personal appeal by the president of the United States and the first lady, and still Chicago got 18 votes. Four years ago, New York got 19 votes in the first round, and then 16 when it got booted out for the 2012 Olympics, which London won. So what's the constant? What's the one thread? It's the USOC.

BERKES: Abrahamson says the USOC now needs a CEO with a background in Olympic sports, which seems like a no-brainer. But the U.S. Olympic board has both hired CEOs without any Olympic experience, and fired those deeply steeped in Olympic sports.

Board chair Larry Probst now seems to get that, given this description of his ideal CEO.

NORRIS: It's somebody that has the executive skills that Stephanie has, married with a background in sports; someone who is multilingual and has the ability to travel extensively all over the world, and that we believe can build the long-term relationships that we need to have with IOC members.

BERKES: This is important to American athletes because Olympics held in the United States attract more television and corporate revenues from American networks and companies. Home-country games can generate more money for athletes and attract more kids to Olympic sports, which makes more American medals possible.

Probst says he hopes to have a new CEO in place before winter ends. That'll be the sixth U.S. Olympic CEO in a decade.

Howard Berkes, NPR News.

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