INDIANAPOLIS, IN (WLNS) – USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny has resigned following claims the organization was delayed in handling sex abuse allegations.
According to the USA Gymnastics website, the USAG Board of Directors accepted Penny’s resignation as president and CEO effective March 16.
The resignation comes a week after the United States Olympic Committee’s board sent a recommendation to USA Gymnastics chairman Paul Parilla requesting Penny step down.
According to Penny’s bio on the USA Gymnastics website, he was named president of USAG in April of 2005. He joined the organization in 1999.
His duties include the being responsible for the overall management and strategic planning for the association.
Penny informed the board of his resignation during a conference call Thursday, which was originally scheduled to fill a board vacancy.
According to USA Gymnastics, it will now initiate a national search for a new president and CEO. Board Chair Paul Parilla will guide the organization’s operations in the interim.
“We have accepted Steve’s resignation and want to thank him for his contributions and dedication to USA Gymnastics over the years,” Parilla said. “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.
Penny’s resignation also comes amid the ongoing Larry Nassar investigation, where dozens of women and girls are accusing the former MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor of sexual abuse.
Nassar is facing more than 20 counts of criminal sexual conduct, child pornography charges, and many civil lawsuits.
Nassar has maintained his innocence in state and federal court and says the treatment is performed on his patients were accepted medical techniques.
Just Thursday, attorneys representing many alleged victims of Nassar, added 20 more plaintiffs to an ongoing federal lawsuit.
To date, more than 70 women and girls have been added to that lawsuit alleging that abuse happened at USA Twistars Gymnastics Club in Dimondale, Michigan State University, and at Nassar’s home in Holt, Michigan.
Full statement from Steve Penny:
“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.
I want to thank everyone for their support over the years, especially those members who have provided thoughtful feedback as to how we could improve the organization. I am especially grateful to the USA Gymnastics staff and everyone who has served on the board of directors over the years. These incredible people have always acted in the best interests of the organization and challenged USA Gymnastics to seek improvements that would benefit the membership it served.”