Equestrian Issues Statement on USET Withdrawal From USOC Mediation
Officers and Negotiating Team of USA Equestrian, the National
Governing Body (NGB) for Equestrian Sport, issued the following
statement on the most recent withdrawal of the United States Equestrian
Team (USET) from mediation currently underway between the organizations.
The mediation is being conducted by Richard Young of Colorado
Springs, and follows a challenge to USA Equestrian's status as
NGB commenced by USET in February 2001 before the United States
Olympic Committee USOC).
in the statement are Alan F. Balch, Judith Werner, Linda Allen,
Kathy Knill Meyer, David O'Connor, and Stephen O. Hawkins, officers
of USA Equestrian, and additional members of the Negotiating Team,
Kate Jackson, Jim Wofford, and Lori Rawls.
of us deeply regret the USET leadership's latest withdrawal from
meaningful negotiation over the governance issues facing the sport,
particularly when the differences between the parties seem so
close to reasonable resolution.
continue to be open to a mediated resolution. At the same time,
we urge the USOC to support the reasonable ongoing governance
of the sport, and what we believe are the reasonable prerogatives
of USA Equestrian as the incumbent NGB. Given the disagreement,
USA Equestrian will continue its historic and ongoing role in
the sport's governance, as the only NGB the sport has ever had.
1997, when the then-AHSA and the USET negotiated the formal Operating
Agreement between the two organizations, we have sought dialogue
conflict. In 2000, several proposals for consolidation of the
two organizations were put forward. A facilitated Strategic Planning
Initiative was undertaken, which the USET ended in favor of its
formal USOC challenge.
previous consolidation proposals, including the structural outlinevoted
on by each organization's board in January, have been based on
the idea that the two bodies were approximately equal in importance
to the sport and financial strength, if not in size of membership
or staff. So, as the latest mediation has evolved, two developments
are particularly noteworthy.
"The first development since January came in the course of
financial due diligence, which both parties agreed in December
would be undertaken in detail. It was discovered that USET's financial
condition at year-end 2001 was very different than we had been
given to understand it to be. Based on our evaluation, undertaken
after the USET's nnual meeting and its release of its financial
statements in early February, we could identify no liquid financial
assets available to a new, consolidated entity. Instead, any new,
successor organization would face significant financial risk for
current and future USET liabilities, from USET creditors and USET
contractual obligations. This meant we would have to maintain
the ongoing separate identity of the successor corporation, the
vehicle for which must be USA Equestrian's present corporate structure.
led to the second development. Under the circumstance that this
new organization could no longer be a roughly equal consolidation
of previously equal organizations, we felt strongly, instead,
that the functional constituencies in the sport's governance (International,
National, Administrative, as well as Athletes) should elect their
new leadership through self-nominating and secret ballots. We
suggested that these elections, and all the necessary corporate
actions to re-structure the sport, be undertaken in public at
a special one-day constitutional convention, to be held in about
we currently disagree is mainly on the method of seating the individuals
who would govern the sport from this point forward. We believe
each constituency should nominate and elect the individuals to
represent it, by secret ballot. The USET believes that leadership
should appoint the representatives. We believe that the USET's
roposal would be likely to continue the organizational polarization
in the sport, while ours would more likely be conducive to harmony
going forward. In fact, we suggested that
neither the current president of USA Equestrian nor that of the
United States Equestrian Team stand for re-election as president
of the NGB going forward.
areas of agreement for a new structure to govern the sport far
outdistance the areas of disagreement. Both sides agree that the
three functional areas of governance on the new board are International
[FEI disciplines], Administrative [Equine Welfare, Finance, Marketing,
Planning, Legal, etc.], and National [Non-FEI disciplines]. Both
sides agree that the athletes must be directly represented, as
called for by law, with 20% voting power. And both sides agree
that the functions above are to be governed by
a 19-member board, with 5 seats for each of the 3 functional areas,
and 4 for athletes.
this basis for agreement, moving forward we will seek unity for
our sport, a defense for solid, responsible governance, and the
involvement of all our sport's leadership to end the conflict."
relating to the mediation, including the detailed written positions
of each organization, will be available at http://www.equestrian.org,
at the Equestrian Governance pages [http://www.equestrian.org/EquestrianGovernance].
Inc., as the National Equestrian Federation of the U.S., is the
regulatory body for the Olympic and World Championship sports
of dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, reining, show jumping,
and vaulting, as well as 19 other breeds and disciplines of equestrian
competition. As the country's largest multi-breed organization,
the Federation has over 77,000 members and recognizes more than
2,800 competitions nationwide each year. It governs all aspects
of competition, including educating and licensing all judges,
stewards, and technical delegates who officiate at these shows.