USA Gymnastics’ new medical director out after just one day
The missteps at scandal-plagued USA Gymnastics continued Tuesday after the national governing body announced Dr. Edward Nyman, Jr. is out as the organization’s director of sports medicine and science after just one day.
USA Gymnastics did not go into details about the departure of Nyman which came just hours after new chief executive officer and president Li Li Leung described Nyman’s hiring as “critical.”
“Dr. Nyman’s employment will not continue due to a conflict of interest, and we will immediately renew our search to identify a qualified individual to lead our sports medicine and research efforts,” USA Gymnastics said in a brief statement.
The Nyman ouster is a major setback for Leung, hired in February as USA Gymnastics’ fourth president and chief executive officer in 23 months, whose tenure, like those of her predecessors, has been marked by significant gaffes.
Leung, a former NBA vice president and sports marketing executive who competed for the U.S. at the 1988 Jr. Pan American Games, came under fire last week for comments she made related to the Nassar scandal during an interview with NBC’s “Today” show.
“I was seen by Larry Nassar myself, but I was not abused by him, and the reason why I wasn’t abused by him is because my coach was by my side when he saw me,” Leung said. “I was seen by him in a public setting and so I understand what the setting needs to be like in order to ensure safety for our athletes.”
Leung later apologized for the comments, acknowledging that they were “insensitive.”
Leung also drew criticism from former U.S. national team members and their supporters when Olympic champion Mary Lou Retton said in a television interview that Leung was consulting with her. Retton was on the USA Gymnastics board of directors during the Nassar scandal and, according to published reports, was an early defender of the former U.S. Olympic and U.S. national team director.
Retton has also defended former U.S. national team directors Bela and Martha Karolyi, her former coaches. The Karolyis are defendants in dozens of lawsuits filed by former gymnasts who allege they played a leading role in creating a culture of abuse that enabled Nassar’s predatory behavior.
Leung’s hiring has been criticized by former Olympians, national team members and athletes right advocates who maintain she was brought in by USA Gymnastics to repair the NGB’s image and its relations with corporate sponsors in the wake of the Larry Nassar scandal.
USA Gymnastics seemed to confirm as much in a court filing asking U.S. Bankruptcy Court-Southern District of Indiana to approve her employment contract.
“With nearly two decades of sports business experience at the highest levels, Ms. Leung is well equipped to restore confidence in USA Gymnastics with its members and corporate sponsors and other key stakeholders,” Catherine Steege, an attorney for USA Gymnastics, wrote in a March 5 court filing.
The court approved a contract that will pay Leung $450,000 in annual compensation and as much as $90,000 annual in bonuses.
Earlier USA Gymnastics, a tax-exempt, non-profit organization, had refused to disclose Leung’s contract to the public.
Leung and USA Gymnastics had hoped to put the criticism behind them with the hiring of Nyman, chair of the Department of Health and Human Performance in the College of Health Professions at Ohio’s Findlay University.
“The director of sports medicine and science position is integral in addressing our top priorities of athlete health, well-being and safety,” Leung said Monday. “Making this hire early on in my tenure was important because it is critical for our becoming more athlete-centric. Ed’s collective professional experiences make him uniquely suited for this role.”
A day later he was gone.