I had read this before but we never really discussed them on TWT... since it's the heart of the wrestling season, rather than summer, I figured I'd repost them and see your reactions...
Martin's post on USAW and their connection to All American Sports Supply:
On this: I know of two other companies that have talked to USAWrestling regarding this contract. The figure (as I recall) was in the 40-50k range and I believe it was stated on their tax statement. If it isn't on their recent tax statement (for '09) I'd wonder if there was a payment made at all? Martin definitely brought up a good issue here, especially because USAWrestling could do much better for themselves by opening up the bidding more publicly, allowing licensing fees through a licensed printer, or other means.
Part of our problem with Wrestling in this country is our leadership doesn't have to answer to anybody. So where is the critical independent media? It is either owned by our governing body or they arent willing to ask the hard questions. Questions of our governing body are good, especially when no one is asking them.
Over the past year, I have been approached by several different people in regards to All American Wrestling supply's relationship with USA Wrestling. Dave Miller the former CEO at USA Wrestling now owns All American Wrestling Supply. All American Wrestling Supply has an exclusive contract with USA Wrestling in its Merchandise. It could be a coincidence that the former CEO of USA Wrestling now has the exclusive contract with the former organization that he led . So I went to the source and asked Rich Bender, the current CEO of USA Wrestling 6 questions to try and get to the bottom of what could be seen as cronyism.
1. What is the relationship between USA Wrestling and All American Wrestling Supply?
RB: "All-American Wrestling Supply is presently the exclusive supplier of merchandising services for USA Wrestling in accordance with a Merchandise License Agreement entered into as of April 1, 2008"
[B]Typically this means that All American Wrestling owns the licensing of all USA Wrestling products. From the hats to T Shirts to anything that has the USA Wrestling name logo and trademark. In one way or another anything that has our governing body's trademark on it has to go through All American either directly or indirectly. There may be other benefits and terms but we dont know. (see next question)[/B]
2. How much does All American Wrestling Supply pay USA Wrestling to be its official Merchandiser?
RB: "the provisions of our contracts are treated with confidentiality and, therefore, as a matter of legal responsibility and policy we do not disclose the provisions of contracts to third parties. Therefore, I am not in a position to respond to any of your specific questions about the contract with All-American Wrestling Supply."
[B]I wonder which party decides to make this confidential. Whose interest is it in to make the bid confidential. Why are all of USA Wrestlings contracts confidential?
We have no idea how much the contract is and apparently its none of our business.[/B]
3. When was the last time the contract was negotiated?
After a second follow up email to Rich Bender,Jim Ravanack the President of USA Wrestling contacted us. In the conversation he told me that he negotiated the contract personally with Dave Miller.
4. When was the last time it was up for bidding for other companies?
According to Jim Ravanack, he didnt have the contract in front of him, but he thinks it was in 2002. 7 years ago USA Wrestling was open to competitive bids. Is 2002 right or is it just Jim Ravanack's memory? Why is so long ago? Can anyone on the board of directors of USA Wrestling explain to the wrestling community why the last time the licensing of USA Wrestling logo and trademark has not been open to competitive bidding in 7 years. In my conversation with the President I got absolutely no insight.
In USA Track and Field for example, Company A will get rights to be USA Track and Field's official apparel company. After a couple of years other companies can make a bid. In the end the Company A has the first option of refusal. So if Company B raises the bid Company A can either match it or let Company B take it. This keeps the bid honest while being loyal to people who have invested in the community in the past. Most importantly it is an open process for other companies to understand how the game is played.
So why is Jim Ravanack only negotiating with one company? All American knows what the value of the USAW exclusive contract is to their business, heck they have had it for 7 years. They arent going to overpay for it, however they will underpay for it if they can....like any business would do. The only people that benefit by not having anyone else in the game is All American Wrestling Supply. What we do know is that All American Wrestling Supply entered into the contract because it is worth it for them as a business. It is logical to assume that it would be worth it for other companies who compete with All American Wrestling Supply if given the chance to bid on it.
5. What is your [personal] relationship with the ownership of All American Wrestling Supply? I got no answer.
6. Have you or anyone from USA Wrestling ever been on any trips, gifts or compensation by All American Wrestling Supply or anyone associated with the company? I got no answer.
Who is looking out for the wrestlers at USA Wrestling? How can they honestly claim that they know what the market will pay to be the exclusive merchandiser of USA Wrestling. Is this an act of cronyism. If this is the way they handle their merchandising, then how do they handle other affairs? These questions need to be addressed not only by Rich Bender but the board members of USA Wrestling have an obligation to know what is going on here. If there are good answers to these questions let us hear it, but right now we dont have answers to many important questions.
If bidding hasn't happened in 7 years, its too long for a normal company... USAW isn't a company, its an NPO.
Martin's question's 5 & 6 are funny... in #5 he adds [personal] as if it were omitted in his email.
If asked like this:
What is your relationship with the ownership of All American Wrestling Supply?
The answer would be: "He provides our wrestling gear...."
By omitting the "personal" portion in his question he seemingly tried to make the recipient say something he could reuse against him... Good call not answering.
In 6, it's quite apparent that USAW has been paid and asking if he or anyone personally was paid is not only unnecessary to answer, it does them no good to answer it.
Overall, I think this was an interesting and less aggressive article by Martin. He made some decent points and makes one wonder what USAWrestling is doing with that potentially lucrative contract by not negotiating since the early 2000's.