Wednesday, January 9, 2008

It’s Official: Masback Leaving USA Track & Field

Former Track & Field CEO Craig Masback

After 10 years at the helm, Craig Masback has resigned as Chief Executive Officer of USA Track & Field. He leaves his post to become Director of Business Affairs for Nike's Global Sports Marketing Division. This move is not particularly surprising to people who have been watching – there reportedly has been friction between Masback and his board of directors.

The timing of Masback’s departure is interesting. January marks the beginning of the USA Track & Field indoor track season, and it is not clear who will lead the organization past the Marion Jones doping scandal.

Masback, a former world-class miler, leaves the organization in better shape that he found it. Craig increased revenues, incorporated a no-tolerance drug policy, attracted more corporate sponsorships and boosted attendance.

With all that he did achieve for the sport, Masback’s biggest downfall may have been failing to address the doping scandal squarely. Fans and critics wanted to hear directly from him, and it seemed awkward that the man responsible for the sport’s no-tolerance policy stood silent as one of the sport’s most recognizable names admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs.

The specter of the doping scandal will always hang over the Masback era for U.S. Track & Field. But, it’s important when considering his legacy to remember that he set a sound financial stage and built an internal infrastructure that will help the sport achieve a wider audience and greater prominence on the world’s athletic stage – and for that we thank him.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

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