Controversy surrounding USAG’s hiring of Mary Lee Tracy as the women’s elite development coordinator took an interesting turn on Friday. Here’s a brief breakdown of the current situation:
Feature Photo Courtesy WCPO
USA Gymnastics announced Tuesday that Cincinnati coach Mary Lee Tracy would take over the elite development coordinator position, which oversees the training of young gymnasts wishing to reach the top level of the sport. The position was previously held by Tom Forster, who is now the women’s high-performance team coordinator.
After the announcement, Larry Nassar survivor Aly Raisman tweeted, “USA Gymnastics has appointed someone who, in my view, supported Nassar, victim-shamed survivors, & has shown no willingness to learn from the past. This is a slap in the face for survivors, & further confirmation that nothing at @USAG has changed. What a profound disappointment!” The comment led to a fierce debate online regarding the situation.
USA Gymnastics has appointed someone who, in my view, supported Nassar, victim-shamed survivors, & has shown no willingness to learn from the past. This is a slap in the face for survivors, & further confirmation that nothing at @USAG has changed. What a profound disappointment! https://t.co/lklLiqsOCJ
— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) August 29, 2018
Tracy, commonly referred to as MLT online, acknowledged mistakes of the past and expressed the desire for the sport and athletes to move forward in a positive direction. “I’ve been preparing for this opportunity my whole life … I’ve been coaching gymnastics for over 40 years, and now I have an opportunity to help coach coaches,” Tracy said. “I have a chance to take all these lessons–the good and the bad–from the past years and make it better.” She appeared on local television to address the situation. Former athletes of MLT expressed support for her while others expressed disappointment.
USA Today ran a piece on Thursday that was critical of the current situation at USAG, also referencing Ron Galimore and Kerry Perry.
On Friday, MLT posted the following message to her personal Facebook account:
“In an attempt to move in our journey to more ‘transparency’ and openness, I need to explain why I have to resign. Kerry P gave me two options: to resign or be removed, because I tried to contact Aly [Raisman] to apologize and hope we could work together to make our sport better and learn from all of the mistakes of the past. I was never informed that I was not permitted to speak to Aly or any of the survivors!”
Just a little while later, MLT shared a follow-up statement on the same account:
“I have notified USA Gymnastics that I am not resigning. I was pressured to make a decision, and I am seeking counsel! I appreciate all of the support from the community!”
This latest controversy comes in the wake of the sport’s top stars, including Simone Biles, expressing frustration with Perry.
— Inside Gymnastics (@InsideGym) August 20, 2018
2008 Olympian Chellsie Memmel, a member of the committee who selected Perry, also recently expressed her frustration. “I want more,” Memmel said at this month’s U.S. Championships of Perry’s performance so far. “Going into it, our expectation was [she was] going to be the face of USA Gymnastics and the positive change and the positive force. So, to me, that’s been a little bit disappointing, and I’d like to see more.”
“I think she’s in over her head,” another Olympian commented to Inside Gymnastics on the condition of anonymity regarding Perry’s performance. “I’m not sure she has a grasp of what the community needs.”
Inside Gymnastics reached out to USAG for comment and received the following:
“USA Gymnastics has asked Mary Lee Tracy to resign from the elite development coordinator role. We strongly believe in a culture that encourages our athletes and survivors to speak up and make their voices heard. As a representative of the organization, she inappropriately contacted a survivor, who is also a represented plaintiff, in response to that survivor’s public criticism of her. USA Gymnastics decided it would be best to move forward without Ms. Tracy in this role.”
In addition, USAG added the following on Twitter:
“As a representative of the organization, she inappropriately contacted a survivor, who is also a represented plaintiff, in response to that survivor’s public criticism of her. USA Gymnastics decided it would be best to move forward without Ms. Tracy in this role.”
Follow @InsideGym on Twitter for more updates.