Gladstone, NJFebruary 14, 2002United States Equestrian Team (USET) President Dr. Armand Leone, Jr. delivered the annual report of the USET President at the USET Annual Meeting in West Palm Beach, FL on February 11.
Following is Dr. Leones report to the USET membership:
As President and Chief Executive Officer of the United States Equestrian Team, it is my pleasure to make this 2002 annual report to the members. As all of you know, the past year was difficult in many ways. Gladly, those days are behind us, and the days ahead are both challenging and exciting. The birth of a new National Governing Body for equestrian is upon us and the 2002 World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain are rapidly approaching. Our athletes have the potential to succeed in all disciplines at the WEG, and the prospects for success at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games are even greater.
2001 was a year of challenges to all levels of our organization and equestrian sport. The two major challenges facing our organization upon my taking office last year were the resolution of the NGB dispute and implementing appropriate fiscal controls. USET supporters made it abundantly clear during 2001 that they would not support equestrian athlete programs until these issues were resolved. I am proud to say that the USET is meeting these challenges - the NGB governance issue is being settled and the USET has reorganized itself into a fiscally responsible organization.
2002 brings its own set of challenges--but these challenges are ones that should be familiar and welcomed--the USET coaches and discipline committees must prepare training programs for our athletes and horses to compete successfully at the 2002 WEG and our athletes must rise to the task of winning at the 2002 WEG in all seven equestrian disciplines. Even though each discipline has a smaller initial budget to work with this year, the core athlete programs necessary for success have been developed and are ready for implementation. A successful WEG performance awaits our riders, drivers, vaulters and horses -- but only with the renewed commitment and immediate financial support of our members. Without your support, America's dreams and hopes for successful performances in Jerez will never materialize.
The NGB Solution
The sport of Equestrian in the United States is on the historic verge of forming a new unified NGB that will resolve the governance dispute with USA Equestrian. The United States Equestrian Team volunteer leadership has worked with the USA Equestrian leadership to develop a structure for an equestrian NGB that will resolve all the outstanding issues with the United States Olympic Committee and, more importantly, create a NGB that will make our future successes even greater.
The principles important to both organizations are being adhered to - the USET's belief that successful international high performance equestrian performance requires focused and dedicated policy making and the USA Equestrian belief that the strongest NGB results by including all aspects of equestrian sport within. The proposed structure for the new NGB incorporates both of these beliefs. Now that the Executive Committees and Boards of USET and USAE have approved the proposed NGB structure, subgroups of individuals from both organizations are working out the details necessary to complete the consolidation into one NGB.
The new NGB will have an International Division and a National Division, so that all aspects of the sport can have the necessary representation and attention to important programs. Each division will be initially governed by trustees from both organizations according to the particular affiliation that each board member has with equestrian sport. It is expected that by-laws will be ready for approval by both organizations this spring and that the NGB will be in operation before the 2002 WEG commences.
The USET will become the USET Foundation, whose primary mission will be to raise funds for specific International High Performance equestrian programs. The day-to-day operations related to International High Performance athlete programs will continue to be managed by the staffs from within the USET and USA Equestrian who have been successfully supporting our athlete programs in the past, except that they will perform these duties from within the new NGB.
The USET will continue to be responsible for the funding of all high performance international competition programs including the 2002 WEG both prior to and after the consolidation of the USET and USA Equestrian and the formation of the USET Foundation.
The USET organization has implemented fiscal controls in its operations that were necessitated by current economic conditions and good business practices. The days of deficit spending are over. Contributions during 2001 were down by over 50% - due primarily to the NGB dispute and a lack of confidence in the financial management of the organization, as well as the recession. At my request, the Finance Committee formed a Budget & Compensation Committee that has taken responsibility for monitoring the Team's revenues and expenses at all levels of the organization on an ongoing basis. The B&C Committee has worked with each discipline committee to develop budgets that can prepare our athletes for the 2002 World Equestrian Games and future years but that also stay within realistic fundraising projections.
The B&C Committee will make periodic reviews during the year to confirm that actual fundraising is meeting projected goals. If revenue from fundraising falls short of expected interim milestones, the B&C Committee will make necessary adjustments on the expense side and cuts in programs to keep the budget balanced. Although the Olympic disciplines will remain the highest priority for general funding purposes, the funding for all seven disciplines programs is dependent on our raising the funds necessary to support them.
In addition to the fiscal oversight by the B&C Committee, reductions have been made to the USET staff that have eliminated redundancy and encouraged more efficient use of resources. Staff reductions were based on an analysis of what responsibilities could be reallocated to remaining staff and what reductions could be effected without jeopardizing core high performance programs.
Furthermore, changes in compensation policies as they relate to unused vacation and holiday/weekend work, and freezes in salary raises, are also resulting in additional and immediate savings to the Team. It is the highest form of compliment to our staff that, although these reductions have created additional responsibilities and hardships, every one has embraced these changes and is working to make them successful. These staff reductions and compensation policy changes will result in an immediate annual savings of over $350,000.
Changes have also been made at the Senior Management level of the USET. After 13 years with the USET, Robert Standish has announced his resignation as Executive Director. Mr. Standish is responsible for bringing the USET to the point where it is now ready to consolidate into the new NGB, and he now wishes to pursue other endeavors of both a personal and professional nature. We wish him well and know that he will remain a lifelong friend to the Team. Mr. Standish's responsibilities have been transferred to Bonnie B. Jenkins, who has been appointed Acting Executive Director, James R. Wolf, who has been appointed Director of Athlete Programs, Games Preparations, & Eventing, and Gary D. Jaworski, Director of Fundraising, who will take on the Team's corporate sponsorship responsibilities.
The 2002 World Equestrian Games
With our house finally in order, the USET can focus on its most important mission -- preparing to win at the 2002 World Equestrian Games. The importance of this year's WEG cannot be overstated. First and foremost, successful performances of our Dressage, Eventing and Show Jumping athletes at the WEG are necessary to secure invitations to the 2004 Athens Olympics. If our top teams do not qualify for the 2004 Athens Games at the 2002 WEG, they will have to travel to the Dominican Republic for the Pan-American Games in 2003 to qualify. Hopefully with your support, this will not be necessary. Secondly, the entire equestrian world is waiting to see if we are going to become stronger or weaker as a result of the past year's turmoil both within our sport and within our country.
For the four international disciplines of Driving, Endurance, Reining, and Vaulting, the 2002 World Equestrian Games serve as their "Olympics." The United States is currently the world's leading nation in Endurance and Reining; our Driving and Vaulting athletes are also top contenders in their sports and are poised to win medals this year. The rest of the world will be watching us to see if we have the commitment and fortitude as a country to stay at the top of equestrian sport. With your financial support, I know that we can.
Despite our potential to win gold at the 2002 World Equestrian Games, medals will only be realized if we, as USET members, are willing to meet our challenge and contribute the money to implement our training programs and to pay for our athletes to go and compete. If we fail, it is only because we, as members, have failed our athletes. The new NGB is being formed; the organization has implemented tight fiscal controls and significantly reduced its overhead; the discipline committees have submitted budgets focused only on essential competition and training activities; and the athletes are in the process of qualifying to go. The last ingredient for our success at the 2002 World Equestrian Games is you.
Without contributions from our members now, success for our athletes at the 2002 World Equestrian Games is impossible. Although the 2002 World Equestrian Games are not until September, the USET has to start paying for its programs NOW. Reservations for planes and trucks, training, preparatory competition tours and selection procedures are expenses that are being incurred now.
On behalf of all of our athletes, I would ask every USET member and all individuals who support equestrian sport in the United States to 1) renew their USET membership and to 2) support our equestrian athlete programs. Contributions can be made to the general fund or for specific discipline programs. Until the 2002 discipline budgets are funded, any donations specifically marked for discipline programs will be used only for those discipline programs and will not be used to pay any non-athlete related expenses. The time for sitting on the sidelines is over; the time to support your team is now. With your confidence and support, the United States Equestrian Team will create a new unified NGB with USA Equestrian and, more importantly, help our country's athletes perform to the best of their abilities at the 2002 WEG.
The United States Equestrian Team is
a non-profit organization that selects, trains, equips and finances equestrians
of the highest possible standard to represent our country in major international
competition, including the Olympic Games and the World Championships.
To accomplish this, the USET seeks out and nurtures the development of
talented athletes - riders, drivers and horses - and provides the support
and guidance they need to help them attain their fullest potential. For
more information on the USET, please call (908) 234-1251, or visit USET
ONLINE at www.uset.org