More jeers for Hightower


 November 26th, 2015  sutracSpike

Some times it helps to make what may seem like micro-points by pointing out major, macro-political events and compare them to events and/or people who operate down here at ground level. One of the reasons this works is  despite the difference in magnitude of the events and their effects, at the end of the day, we have real people who are the actors involved, and they tend to share the same personality, psychological, and behavior traits,….no matter the size of the stage they occupy.  For example, megalomaniacs manifest the same egomania, self-aggrandizement, and tactics no matter the size of the arena within which they act. For example, recently Vladimir Putin of Russia brought Bashar  al-Assad, dictator of Syria, to Moscow. In exchange for military and political support from Putin,  Assad publicly thanked Putin for the help and support Putin was offering him to keep him in power. At the same time Putin was working behind the scenes to get closer to the Western powers/Coalition that is dedicated to the ultimate overthrow of Assad. Max Seigle had a similar come to Jesus meeting recently with the Executive Committee of the Athletes Advisory Committee. After offering the athletes approximately 1.2 million dollars in aid and support for the top performing athletes, the AAC leadership correspondingly and effusively expressed its support for Seigle and his administration. Now let’s us make sure to understand one very important thing,….if you go from zero to one, then in one kind of perception, that increase is infinite. However, when we take and in-depth,and unclouded, view of the money offered and compare it against what athletes from other some countries are given as rewards for similar excellence, the Siegle’s offer is paltry and verges on an insult. This is even more evident when you compare the amount offered to high achieving athletes and realize that the salary of Seigle and his top aide amounts to more 35-40% of what the athletes are promised.


I coached a female 400 meter from Turkey in 2012. The Turkish women’s 4 x 400 was ranked 14th in the world and did not advance out of the rounds. Her award from her federation was $40,000.00 for just being on that team. I know that for a fact because she gave me the $4,000.00 coach’s fee based upon 10% of the amount she was awarded.  That represents the maximum amount awarded under Seigle’s plan to the top U.S. athletes.  Further, she advised me that her federation awarded $750,000.00, $650,000.00, and $500,000.00 for individual gold, silver, and bronze medals.

British athletes with the same credentials as Americans, get substantial more support in the form of money,medical, and training expenses .

Carded Canadians get support similar in accumulated value to Americans, and French and Italians get more than their American counterparts for the same level of performance and less. The same can be said, for example, for athletes from Serbia and South Korea, among many others.

Even given the above, we should not be too harsh on the amount itself. Any amount of new money to athletes is a positive and good thing,… even if insultingly meager and niggardly. However, what we need to focus in on is the disingenuous and devious motivation behind the award to athletes. What Seigle and the rest of the leadership troika of USATF,….. Stephanie Hightower, President, and Steve Miller, Board Chair,….., are seeking to do is to bribe the athletes to support their efforts to prevent new and needed reform legislation from getting out of the Law and Legislation Committee. Failing that, they want the athletes’ support when the legislation comes to the floor of the assembly at the national convention next week. In addition to the AAC, heads of other major committees were later invited to Indianapolis with the intent of gaining their support to defeat the very much needed reforms to bring the governance of USATF back into the realm of a democratic processes. The reason for this desperate and despicable effort to circumvent the democratic process is based upon the fact that for the last two conventions, when there was a vote by the assembly,….. for or against, the self-serving troika preferred items,….. the assembly voted overwhelmingly against the troika position. In the case of Stephanie Hightower’s struggle to unseat Bob Hersh as IAAF representative the vote was 4 to 1 against her. She had to rely on a political maneuver that placed the vote in the hands of an already co-opted board to win. So despite the overwhelming support for her opposition, Hightower was able to prevail because of the centralization of power away from the assembly and into the national office and the board. There are new legislative proposals that will restore sanity and more inclusiveness to USATF governance that the troika vehemently and self-servingly oppose.

In his book, UNSPORTAMANLIKE CONDUCT: EXPLOITING COLLEGE ATHLETES, Walter Byers, former Executive Director of the N.C.A.A., said the following about the exploitation phenomenon of athletes by their national governing bodies .  He explained the exploitation as follows, ” I attribute that( exploitation) quite frankly to the neo-plantation mentality that exists ……in conference offices and in the N.C.A.A. that the rewards belong to the overseers and the supervisors. What trickles down after that can go to the athletes.”  This is an uncannily accurate description of what the troika at USATF is seeking to maintain and perpetuate, and they are willing to go to any extremes to accomplish this strangle hold on power and money.  What they are seeking is to centralize more power into the national office and the board and diminish the ultimate, rightful and legitimate power and authority of the general assembly,…. who in turn represents the volunteer and grass roots populace that works with the athletes first hand and on a daily basis .


David Greifinger, former counsel to the USATF board, and for years counsel to the Athletes Advisory Committee, has introduced legislation to the Law and Legislation Committee that will expand the board so there will be a broader base of representation coming from the various constituent based committees. Anything that represents a broader base of representation by constituent committees is a total anathema to what the troika wants because it would diminish the power that the troika claims exclusively for itself. Since the chair of the board has substantial control of the board agenda,… and thus influence over policies and programs to be promulgated, the troika has descended deeper into the plantation model. They vigorously oppose the president of the organization, who is democratically elected by the general assembly,  and is assumed to represent the values and super value of the organization and its broad based constituents,…from being automatically the chair person of the board. Greifinger’s legislation would assure that the person that has been democratically elected by the broadest based constituency, serve as the Chair and, protector and promulgator of the interests of the constituent groups for whom the organization is supposed to serve.

After the Putinesque meetings to convince, coerce and bribe influential elements of the organization to support the troika position of more centralized power in the national office, the Putin factor really rolled out in all its ignominious glory and disgraceful political, heavy handed clumsiness. Here it is laid out through the following time line:

September 29, 2014 – Robin Beamon, is charged by the Amateur Athletic Union with several counts of fraud and fiduciary ineptness in her position as Youth Chair of AAU. Count #14 charges that she paid Stephanie Hightower, president of USATF, a $3,000.00 appearance fee, picked up all her hotel costs, and flew her out to Hawaii on a first class ticket, to the AAU convention.

February 22, 2015 – Renee Washington, Seigle’s top aide, sends e-mail to Lionel Leach, chair of the Youth Committee of USATF , informing him that USATF has retained Robin Beamon for “Youth” matters

April 2, 2015  AAU’s National Board of Review finds Robin Beamon culpable of charges including Count # 14

August 22, 2015 USATF board member and USATF Youth Committee stalwart, Sam Germany, reveals reports  highly critical of Robin Beamon’s behavior and conduct at the the World Youth Championships in Eugene, Oregon

October 24, 2015 at one of the Seigle meetings to win over supporters against Greifinger’s reform proposals for Law and Legislation Committee. Beamon vociferously opposes the reforms in the meeting. Greifinger refuses to accept or cave in to troika demands on new reform proposals.

October 27, 2015 Greifinger, receives e-mail from the Chair of the Athletes Advisory Committee, Dwight Phillips, dismissing him as Law and Legislation representative of the AAC.

October 27, 2015 Lionel Leach, Chair of the Youth Committee, sensing what is going on, appoints Greifinger to represent Youth on the Law and Legislation Committee.

October  29, 2015  Stephanie Hightower fires Tim Baker, former Law and Legislation Chair and Secretary, who had served faithfully and effectively on the Law and Legislation Committe for 34 years. Robin Beamon is appointed by Hightower as Baker’s replacement. Hightower replaces Devon Martin, another long time member of the L. and L. Committee with Sharrieffa Barksdale, whose only qualifications were she aggressively supported the troika’s anti-democracy positions at the Indianapolis meeting.

The above represents the tip of the iceberg phenomena that we see unfolding within the governance and non-governance of USATF. What exists outside of eyesight and scrutiny is infinitely worse. In juxtaposition to what we see as micro Putinesque, I posit the action and attitude to governance that is espoused by the Pope as the type of leadership we need at USATF.  The Pope has made it very clear that he favors inclusiveness over exclusiveness as the best approach to leadership, guidance and governance. The troika’s positions on governance is just the opposite. They feel that the great “ill-informed” and “unwashed”  of the grass roots and volunteer cadre are not worthy enough to allow them the ultimate voice as to how they should be governed and served. On his most recent trip to Kenya, the Pope refused being transported around in the big limousines of the other dignitaries. Instead he rode in what was described by one Kenyan as, ” …a lowly miniature Honda car.” When he was a bishop, he rode to work in a bus. Contrast that to Hightower’s Hawaii first class junket at AAU’s expense.  A lot of the Pope’s governance style is based upon a basic philosophical approach he has which is contained in something he stated earlier this year. He stated that in order for a shepherd to be good at his job, “…he must be able to smell the sheep….”. This is the last thing the troika engages in,… or troubles itself about. At the recent World Championships in Beijing this summer, John Smith and I were discussing the fact that none of the leadership clique of USATF ever came to the warm up area, but instead spent all their time in the VIP section of the stadium, snacking, sipping, and swapping lies. Addressing this I said:

“John in order to really know what is going on out here, you have to be close enough and involved enough to smell the funk.”

“Yeah, how can you be making decisions that impact these athletes and never how they prepare, or never see them in action up close ? But what is worse, they never even meet with the coaches who coach the athletes that win the medals that justify their pay.”

Recently the Pope got his biggest burst of applause in Kenya when he stated, ” The gospel tells us that from those to whom much has been given, much will be demanded. In that spirit, I encourage you to work with integrity and transparency for the common good.”.

I challenge you to find and identify anything resembling this kind of management, governance and rule from the troika and their minions.