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Thread: Questions about USA Wrestling

  1. #1

    Default Questions about USA Wrestling

    Please don't turn this to turn into "USA Wrestling Bashing". Questions can be found below.

    Take a look at top guys like Ben Askren, Mo Lawal, Cael Sanderson, (the list continues..) who end their wrestling careers because of financial stability issues in wrestling at the highest level. I recall an article by Askren where he mentioned he got a stippend of about $6,000 annually to wrestle as the #1 guy in the country.

    Assuming their travel, food, and housing are paid for @ major events you could assume that each weight may get $20,000 during the Olympic year.. That is $140,000 per men's style, $80,000 for women's.

    That's 18 people receiving about $360,000 +/- during an Olympic year, even less when the athletes are traveling on their own around the US.

    Then, take a look at this list:

    Membership & State Services
    Mark Scott Director of State Services
    Tony Black Manager of Grass Roots Development
    Sam Barber Manager of National Coaches Education
    Kevin Hansen Manager of Junior Olympic Programming
    Shonna Vest Membership Services Assistant
    Marge Civil State Services Assistant

    Administration
    Dwaine Cooper Associate Executive Director of Finance & Admin
    MaryBeth Powers Manager of Finance
    Sonja Johnson Finance Assistant
    Collin Maxim Mail & Shipping Services

    Broadcasting
    Christina Copple Video Technician

    Communications
    Gary Abbott Director of Communications & Special Projects
    Craig Sesker Manager of Communications

    Development
    Larry Nugent Director of Development
    Harris Kalofonos Manager of Development

    Events
    Pete Isais Director of National Events
    Steve Beuning Coordinator of National Events
    Chris Moen Assistant Coordinator of National Events

    Executive
    Rich Bender Executive Director
    Haley Thompson Executive Assistant
    Karen Robinson Receptionist

    I.T.
    Meredith Wilson Director of Information Technology

    National Teams
    Mitch Hull Director of National Teams
    Zeke Jones National Freestyle Head Coach
    Brandon Slay Freestyle Resident Coach
    Bill Zadick Freestyle Resident Coordinator
    Steve Fraser National Greco-Roman Head Coach
    Momir Petkovic Assistant Greco-Roman National Coach
    Ike Anderson Greco-Roman Developmental Coach
    Terry Steiner National Women's Freestyle Head Coach
    Vladislav Izboinikov (Izzy) Women's Freestyle Resident Coach
    Jaimie McNab National Teams Assistant

    So, you've got 32 people, each almost certainly makes more than $20,000 a year + many of which have equal or greater benefits than the wrestlers themselves (travel, job security, higher wages, room & board @ events).

    Now for my questions:

    USA Wrestling, as a NPO, should have tax information available to the public (I think, right?). Does anyone know where it is? Does USA Wrestling display their executive's pay anywhere on TheMat.com?

    How much does USA Wrestling pay each of their 7 directors: Rich Bender, Meredith Wilson, Mitch Hull, Gary Abbott, Mark Scott, Larry Nugent, and Peter Isais? How much more do you think these seven combined to make over Olympians: Henry Cejudo, Doug Schwab, Ben Askren, Andy Hrovat, Daniel Cormier, and Steve Mocco in 2008?

    How much has the sport of wrestling (# of USA Wrestling members) grown in the past 5 years?

    How many of these people have been there for 5 years or longer?

    How many executives, managers, coaches, or other employees of sports franchises make more than their best players?

    Is USA Wrestling managing their # of employees (new hires, fires, expansions) in relation to the growth of the sport?

    How much does USA Wrestling spend/earn on Technology (TrackWrestling, LiveSportsVideo, etc)?

    If you are one of these employees, comfortable with the $75,000 a year you receive, are you really going to go out of your way to fairly compensate the people that generate your revenue if you don't have to?
    Last edited by Schlottke; 04-15-2009 at 09:17 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Questions about USA Wrestling

    It's hard not to turn this into a bash USA Wrestling thread, when you look at this list and realize how little they have done. Have partnerships been forged with anyone in MMA, which could truly fuel the growth of the sport? What about the relationship with the NCAA? Innovative new ways to ensure that athletes are fairly compensated? New sponsorships, outside the old reliables? And, oh yeah, win frickin' Olympic medals? Have any of those things happened? Nope. Yet, as you correctly said, those people are still comfy in their jobs, while the athletes have to scrape and claw for a few grand a year.

    But thank goodness they spend their time moderating message boards.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Questions about USA Wrestling

    Oh, and NPOs are supposed to file a certain tax form that does make their financials public. I can't remember the exact number of it, but they are.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Questions about USA Wrestling

    Quote Originally Posted by bluestater View Post
    It's hard not to turn this into a bash USA Wrestling thread, when you look at this list and realize how little they have done.
    True, but you did a fine job. If we start answering some of the questions without attacking and putting them on the defense immediately we may get something rolling.

    Quote Originally Posted by bluestater View Post
    Have partnerships been forged with anyone in MMA, which could truly fuel the growth of the sport? What about the relationship with the NCAA? Innovative new ways to ensure that athletes are fairly compensated? New sponsorships, outside the old reliables? And, oh yeah, win frickin' Olympic medals? Have any of those things happened? Nope. Yet, as you correctly said, those people are still comfy in their jobs, while the athletes have to scrape and claw for a few grand a year.
    - Start with wage decreases for anyone making over what they counterparts make in the private sector for a similar job performance. No membership growth? Pay decreases across the board. Weak website? Improve it or lose the pay.

    - Open up USAWrestling signups so that websites, stores, and other places besides the states can provide membership signups. Every major product grows faster when they have multiple sales areas. Worried the state's won't get their money if a site is getting it? Give them a cut for every athlete from their state.


    Quote Originally Posted by bluestater View Post
    But thank goodness they spend their time moderating message boards.
    Well, TWT is here now.. maybe they should leave that part up to us

  5. #5

    Default Re: Questions about USA Wrestling

    Don't forget youth level wrestling in the states. I'm on the board for NC/USAW and I can say I've seen hard work for many years in particular from Mark Scott, Marge Civil, and Shonna Vest. I also know that over the past few years USAW has been making efforts to expand into folkstyle and provide more national-level folkstyle events. No, that doesn't directly help us win Olympic medals, but it's what the "membership" wants.

    In North Carolina, for example, we struggle to deal with the mentality that so many coaches & wrestlers have about how "freestyle and greco will mess you up" -- most kids & coaches down here would rather just do folkstyle year round. Several years ago, attendance at our FS/GR tournaments was dwindling down to almost nothing. So we started incorporating more folkstyle events with the hope being, well, if we get these kids into our system, start them with folkstyle, as they get older they'll gradually move into freestyle when they see those big events (Jr Duals, Fargo, etc) are freestyle.

    I know it's just one small part of it, and I can't address the other issues, but since I have firsthand knowledge of what the State Services people do, at least as it relates to me in my state, thought I'd throw it out.

    I've also seen regular emails with reports on membership growth and things like that, we just got one a few days ago, but I've already deleted it.
    Super 32 Challenge - October 26-27, 2013

    "Good things happen when you wrestle for a full seven minutes." -- Jayson Ness, post-finals press conference

  6. #6

    Default Re: Questions about USA Wrestling

    Quote Originally Posted by Stardust View Post
    Don't forget youth level wrestling in the states. I'm on the board for NC/USAW and I can say I've seen hard work for many years in particular from Mark Scott, Marge Civil, and Shonna Vest. I also know that over the past few years USAW has been making efforts to expand into folkstyle and provide more national-level folkstyle events. No, that doesn't directly help us win Olympic medals, but it's what the "membership" wants.

    In North Carolina, for example, we struggle to deal with the mentality that so many coaches & wrestlers have about how "freestyle and greco will mess you up" -- most kids & coaches down here would rather just do folkstyle year round. Several years ago, attendance at our FS/GR tournaments was dwindling down to almost nothing. So we started incorporating more folkstyle events with the hope being, well, if we get these kids into our system, start them with folkstyle, as they get older they'll gradually move into freestyle when they see those big events (Jr Duals, Fargo, etc) are freestyle.

    I know it's just one small part of it, and I can't address the other issues, but since I have firsthand knowledge of what the State Services people do, at least as it relates to me in my state, thought I'd throw it out.

    I've also seen regular emails with reports on membership growth and things like that, we just got one a few days ago, but I've already deleted it.
    Good stuff. I assumed wrestling at the youth/HS level was growing (slowly). I would say USAW's best position is their youth - high school aged system.

    The problem is, if there is no financial reward at the end of the rainbow you can only be driven so far internally toward your goals. (some people more than others)

    If the top guys who do camps all over, have their own shoes, and are role models for the younger kids drop out before they can impact more youth into becoming wrestlers the sport suffers. A guy like Askren, if he knew he'd make even 40k a year (half of the executives, Id imagine), may very well hang in there one more Olympic cycle. In doing so, he has 4 more years of camps, clinics, public appearances, and other events to draw more young people into the sport. By jumping into MMA he becomes a fighter who wrestled and quickly becomes a posterchild for fighting rather than wrestling.

    If you gave the #1 guy a financial reward that meant something (even 20k!) and it was enough to survive with, you would keep more around longer and grow the sport much faster.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Questions about USA Wrestling

    USAW also provides a service where they'll send one of the National Team guys to your state to do a clinic. (I think you get 2 a year but not sure). I can't remember all the details (sorry) but I think USAW pays the athlete's travel, and the state is responsible for food & housing. Whatever the details were, it was a pretty good deal and I thought a good example of one of the things that USAW provides to its membership.

    Of course, what was so sad, and again, goes to show how far behind NC is.... 3 wrestlers showed up.
    Super 32 Challenge - October 26-27, 2013

    "Good things happen when you wrestle for a full seven minutes." -- Jayson Ness, post-finals press conference

  8. #8

    Default Re: Questions about USA Wrestling

    Quote Originally Posted by Schlottke View Post
    Good stuff. I assumed wrestling at the youth/HS level was growing (slowly). I would say USAW's best position is their youth - high school aged system.
    In North Carolina our membership (both coaches and athletes) has grown a lot over the last couple of years. However, we still can't get enough athletes to field a team for Cadet or Junior Duals, and we only have about 20 go to Fargo.

    It's a debate we've had for a long time (I've been on the board around 11-12 years) -- do you put most of your time, resources, money, etc, into the small percent of the "elite" athletes you have, or do you concentrate more on the "grass roots" level.

    It's worked better for us to focus on development of the sport in general and getting more wrestlers involved. The majority of kids (especially here) aren't going to become All-Americans in Fargo, so let's use our resources to do the other things we can to make those kids the best wrestlers they can be and provide them as many opportunities throughout the year (tournaments, clinics, developmental camps) as we can.
    Super 32 Challenge - October 26-27, 2013

    "Good things happen when you wrestle for a full seven minutes." -- Jayson Ness, post-finals press conference

  9. #9

    Default Re: Questions about USA Wrestling

    oh, also just saw your question about how many have been there for 5+ years. I know Mark Scott and Marge Civil have. Not sure about Shonna. Gary Abbott has, and Pete Isais I think - if not, he's very close to 5 years. He worked at North Dakota State and was a big part of the tourney in Fargo, and USAW hired him full time.

    I think, for the purposes of this "study" especially when you talk about salaries vs results, you might need to break down the staff.

    Your Membership & State Services staff should be looked at in relation to membership numbers across the country, how the sport is growing on the youth/high school level, how many coaches are earning Bronze/Silver certifications, etc.

    The Events staff -- how successful are the big national level events going? A couple years ago they created their "National Folkstyle Tour of America". Has participation at these tournaments increased? How much of a profit are these national events making?

    Then take the National Teams staff -- those are the people I would judge based on how the senior level athletes are doing on the international stage. Those are the ones whose salaries I think should be compared to our "stars"

    I just don't think it's fair to lump everyone into being held accountable for those 18 athletes when there's a much bigger picture.

    And yes, I do understand the concept that you look at it like one company, and the entire company succeeds or fails together. But since we're breaking down this discussion into different criteria, I feel like each "department" should be judged accordingly.
    Super 32 Challenge - October 26-27, 2013

    "Good things happen when you wrestle for a full seven minutes." -- Jayson Ness, post-finals press conference

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