USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny resigns amid fallout from handling of sex abuse cases

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny has resigned amid fallout from the federation’s handling of a string of sex-abuse cases.

The USOC board discussed Penny’s future at its quarterly meeting and delivered the recommendation to Paul Parilla, chairman of USA Gymnastics.

Penny announced his decision to resign on Thursday during a board conference call. He released the following statement:

“For the past 18 years, it has been a privilege to serve the membership of USA Gymnastics.  There will never be enough words to describe my tremendous respect for all of the athletes who put their hearts and souls into the sport of gymnastics every day, along with the coaches, club owners, volunteers, families, and other professionals that support them with honor.

Throughout this time there have been many amazing moments along with challenges.  My primary objectives over the last 12 years as CEO have been to raise the bar on how USA Gymnastics serves its athletes; to build relationships that provide resources to help the organization and its membership flourish; and to build a team effort that brought the sport together around common goals.

Among the most important priorities has been Safe Sport. We all care deeply about the safety of our athletes, which is fundamental to a rewarding experience at any level of gymnastics.  It has been heartbreaking to learn of instances of abuse and it sickens me that young athletes would be exploited in such a manner.

I applaud the United States Olympic Committee for creating a broad SafeSport platform that has brought new awareness to the importance of this issue and provided a robust solution for the National Governing Bodies to demonstrate their passion for athlete protection. The U.S. Center for SafeSport establishes an important framework for every National Governing Body to strengthen its resolve against abuse. Everyone associated with USA Gymnastics will benefit from this advancement.

My decision to step aside as CEO is solely to support the best interests of USA Gymnastics at this time.”

Penny is a co-defendant in a civil lawsuit filed by 2000 Olympian Jamie Dantzscher, who has accused former volunteer team doctor Larry Nassar of sexual abuse. USA Gymnastics has denied wrongdoing.

USA Gymnastics says it will initiate a national search for a new president and CEO. In the meantime, Board Chair Paul Parilla will guide the organization’s operations.

Parilla released the following statement Thursday:

“We have accepted Steve’s resignation and want to thank him for his contributions and dedication to USA Gymnastics over the years.

The Board believes this change in leadership will help USA Gymnastics face its current challenges and implement solutions to move the organization forward in promoting a safe environment for its athletes at all levels.

USA Gymnastics and the entire gymnastics community must work together to focus on keeping athletes safe.  We believe Ms. Daniels’ recommendations will identify areas where we can strengthen and refine how we handle sexual misconduct as an organization, expand our efforts to educate the entire community, including parents and athletes, about what to watch for and what to do if they suspect abuse is happening.  Everyone can be an active and vigilant participant for this to be effective, not only in gymnastics but also the Olympic movement as a whole.”

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