- The Washington Times - Friday, June 12, 2009

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. (AP) - The new leader of the U.S. Olympic Committee delivered news Friday that should make her popular: She’s handing out more money.

The USOC board added $16.5 million to the coffers of America’s winter sports as they prepare for the Vancouver Olympics in February. It brings the total funding for the current four-year period to $58.2 million _ a 55 percent increase over 2003-2006, despite an ailing economy.

It’s just the kind of news Stephanie Streeter wants to deliver as she finds her footing as the USOC’s new acting CEO. She took over in March in a move that was widely criticized in Olympic circles, especially among the national governing bodies that are receiving the increases. This was her first board meeting in the new role.

“This is a way to demonstrate what the USOC does and putting our actions behind what we say, and that’s ‘athletes first,’” Streeter said. “The NGBs and athletes are the heart of the movement. Athletes are my top priority.”

The USOC recently cut 54 employees to save $7.1 million from the 2009 budget. Despite that, the $16.5 million it added to the winter sports was $1.4 million more than originally budgeted.

Streeter said her skills as a business leader helped her find the extra money. She said one of the reasons she was tapped to take over for Jim Scherr was to bring a more businesslike atmosphere to the USOC.

“Without tooting horns or anything, we were able to construct a budget in a conservative enough fashion, anticipating the way we did, and come forward with some more money,” she said.

In other news:

_Streeter said the USOC and Bank of America were still in discussions about ways to salvage a sponsorship deal that was worth $12 million-plus from 2005-2008.

_The USOC is in the process of moving 39 employees out of temporary workspace near what is supposed to be the organization’s new headquarters, a telling sign of where the troubled negotiations between the USOC, the city of Colorado Springs and the developer stand. The USOC was released earlier this week from lawsuits involving the three parties, but that didn’t significantly improve the outlook of the negotiations.

“We’d like to remain in the Springs,” Streeter said. “But obviously, we have to look at all our options.”

Last year, Chicago made a strong offer to attract the USOC.

_Streeter said the board received an update about the potential USOC TV network, which has been in the planning stages for two years. She said the complex negotiations were still in progress, but the network would not be running by the Vancouver Olympics. Earlier this year, Streeter told Olympic leaders the USOC was close to a deal.

“We’re not letting any of the outside influences impact it,” Streeter said. “It’s a long, arduous process. We keep working through the process, working with the potential partners. When it’s the right time to do it, God willing, we’ll do it.”

_Streeter also defended the USOC’s executive pay packages. Scherr and chief operating officer Norm Bellingham both made more than $600,000 in total compensation in 2008; 22 employees made more than $150,000.

“My opinion is, you get what you pay for,” Streeter said. “In order to attract the best to support Olympic athletes, we’re trying to get the best talent, and that’s what it takes to get them.”

Streeter said she had settled on a salary with the USOC but declined to say what it was.

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