Washington, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) announced his four appointments for the Commission on the State of U.S. Olympics and Paralympics.
Under the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amateur Athletes Act of 2020, Walden and other committee leaders are responsible for appointing four members each to a Commission on the State of U.S. Olympics and Paralympics. Under the law, the commission is required to submit a report to Congress on the results of its study of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), including a detailed statement of findings, conclusions, recommendations, and suggested policy changes.
Walden released the following statement:
“As we continue our work to ensure athletes have a safe, welcoming environment – and undertake serious reforms at the highest level of sport – I am pleased to announce my appointments to the Commission on the State of U.S. Olympics and Paralympics. After reviewing and considering numerous recommendations for many qualified candidates, I am confident these four individuals will provide valuable insight and expertise to ensure the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee lives up to the high standards expected of it. The United States should always lead the world by example, and athletics is no exception. I thank Governor Daniels, Ms. Stockwell, Mr. Mullens, and Mr. Schmitz for agreeing to serve,” said Walden.
Walden – in consultation with Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Republican Leader and incoming Republican Leader for the 117th Congress Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Republican Leader Brett Guthrie (R-KY) – nominated the following individuals:
The Honorable Mitch Daniels, former Governor of Indiana, is the current President of Purdue University. As president of Purdue University, Daniels has established a pipeline of charter schools to allow minorities greater opportunity to enroll at Purdue. Students applying from these charter schools qualify for several scholarships to help with the financial burden of higher education. During his time as Governor, Daniels sought to establish greater opportunities for youth sports in Indiana – especially for sports outside of basketball, baseball, football, and soccer.
Ms. Melissa Stockwell is a current Paralympic triathlete and swimmer. She was the first Iraq veteran chosen for the Paralympics in 2008 and is a recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Stockwell notably co-founded Dare2Tri, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to enhance the lives of individuals with physical and visual disabilities through swimming, biking, and running. In her role at Dare2Tri, Stockwell focuses on encouraging disabled individuals to take up sports, specifically triathlons, to build one’s health and wellness. Stockwell also focuses on providing education and funding assistance for disabled athletes and Paralympians, including prosthetics and the equipment required to compete in triathlons.
Mr. Rob Mullens is the current athletic director at the University of Oregon, where he has prioritized highlighting women’s sports. He established “Women in Flight,” a program created to provide funds to women sports programs on campus. Mullens also committed to creating greater and more successful opportunities for University of Oregon sports programs that are not as recognized as football and basketball.
The Honorable Joe Schmitz, the former Inspector General of the Department of Defense, is the current chief legal officer for PACEM Solutions International. He is the recipient of the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the highest honorary award presented by the Secretary of Defense to non-career federal employees. Schmitz is considered an expert on internal controls, and published “The Inspector General Handbook: Fraud, Waste, Abuse, and Other Constitutional ‘Enemies, Foreign and Domestic’.” Mr. Schmitz has anti-corruption experience in overseeing compliance with various international and security-related laws, such as the Inspector General Act, as well as laws administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Mr. Schmitz graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1978. In 2013, Mr. Schmitz was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (Virginia Chapter) as an “Outstanding American.”
A 16-member commission is tasked with the following:
· A review of the most recent reforms undertaken by the USOPC;
· A description of proposed reforms to the structure of the USOPC;
· An assessment as to whether the board of directors of the USOPC includes diverse members, including athletes;
· An assessment of U.S. athlete participation levels in the Olympic and Paralympic Games;
· A description of the status of any USOPC licensing arrangement;
· An assessment as to whether the U.S. is achieving the goals for the Olympic and Paralympic Games set by the USOPC;
· An analysis of the participation in amateur athletics of women, disabled individuals, and minorities;
· A description of ongoing efforts by the USOPC to recruit the Olympic and Paralympic Games to the U.S.;
· An evaluation of the functions of the national governing bodies (NGBs) and an analysis of the responsiveness of the NGBs to athletes with respect to the duties of the NGBs under section 220524(a)(3) of title 36, United States Code; and
· An assessment of the finances and the financial organization of the USOPC.
In December 2018, the committee released a report titled “Nassar and Beyond: A Review of the Olympic Community’s Efforts to Protect Athletes from Sexual Abuse,” which summarizes the committee’s findings after concluding a year-long investigation into sexual abuse with the USOPC and the NGBs. The committee’s report outlines several recommendations aimed to put athlete safety at the center of the USOPC and each NGB’s mission. We applaud the USOPC and NGBs for the reforms that have been made to date and are hopeful that this commission will evaluate those reforms and assess what additional reforms may be needed to ensure athlete safety.