USA Gymnastics CEO Quits After Nike, Not Nassar Accusation
After only four days on the job, the president of USA Gymnastics stepped down on Tuesday because of her affiliation to former team doctor Larry Nassar, who was convicted of sexual abuse.
Mary Bono, a former Republican U.S. representative who served for 15 years from 1998 to 2013, decided to resign after accusations of cover-up by Bono’s former employer, Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting, a firm that athletes believe the USAG used to help protect former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University team doctor Larry Nassar from sexual abuse allegations.
Between 2015 to 2016, Nassar was accused of sexual abuse by more than 150 women and girls. In January 2018, he was sentenced 40 to 175 years for sexual abuse, as well as an additional 60 years for convictions of federal child pornography.
The USAG had allegedly worked with Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting to fabric stories as to why Nassar did not attend major competitions in 2015 and 2016. The reason cited by the USAG was that Nassar was sick and focused on his “private practice.” In doing so, Nassar not only avoided any repercussions, but was also allowed to continue working at USAG member gyms as well as Michigan State University. Also, USAG did not add Nassar to its “banned list” for individuals who are considered permanently separated from the sport due to violation of the rules.
For her part, Bono was the senior vice president at Faegre Baker Daniels. On her hiring as interim president, Team USA athletes voiced their dissatisfaction for how the USAG handled their cases.
Alexandra Raisman, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and one of Nassar’s victims, tweeted:
My teammates & I reported Nassar's abuse to USAG in 2015. We now know USOC & lawyers at Faegre Baker Daniels (Mary Bono's firm) were also told then, yet Nassar continued to abuse children for 13 months!? Why hire someone associated with the firm that helped cover up our abuse?
— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) October 15, 2018
Whether Bono had anything to do with the alleged cover-up has not been confirmed or denied. However, this isn’t the first time she’s been embroiled in social or political controversy. On September 7, prior to being named USAG’s president, Bono took to Twitter and posted a photo of her defacing Nike’s signature “swoosh” symbol of a pair of shoes.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) October 14, 2018
This act was a in regards to the boycott of Nike’s decision to have former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick as the newest face of their brand in early September. In response to this, Simone Biles, America’s most decorated gymnast in history, posted on Twitter this scathing comment:
don’t worry, it’s not like we needed a smarter usa gymnastics president or any sponsors or anything https://t.co/cYQizcjywn
— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) October 13, 2018
Though Bono did offer an apology, explaining that she was merely exercising her First Amendment rights, stating:
I regret the post and respect everyone’s views & fundamental right to express them. This doesn’t reflect how I will approach my position @USAGym I will do everything I can to help build, w/ the community, an open, safe & positive environment.
— Mary Bono (@MaryBonoUSA) October 14, 2018
When she tendered her resignation, Bono made no mention of USAG’s involvement with Faegre Baker Daniels, only focusing on the Nike tweet. If she had played any part in a cover-up scandal, no mention has been made so far.