Smart USOC executive play

Here's why the U.S. Olympic Committee is trending in all the right directions under chief executive Scott Blackmun. On Wednesday, the USOC announced an executive team re-shuffle, keynoted by the hiring of Benita Fitzgerald Mosley as what's called the "chief of organizational excellence," in essence chief operating officer.

Fitzgerald Mosley, 51, comes back to the USOC from USA Track & Field, where she was chief of sport performance. Last summer in London, the U.S. track team won 29 medals -- one shy of the audacious Project 30 goal set out by former USATF chief executive Doug Logan, who hired Fitzgerald Mosley and then charged her to see it through.

Fitzgerald Mosley is the real deal, one of the most intelligent, articulate and capable executives in the United States. That's right -- any business, not just sports. It is the USOC's good fortune that she is working in the Olympic movement, and that she thoroughly understands not just the scope and nature of its mission but, as well, all its component pieces.

It is a coup for Blackmun to get her back in Colorado Springs, Colo., the USOC's longtime base.

For emphasis: it is the USOC's gain and, candidly, USATF's loss.

Fitzgerald Mosley is the 1984 Olympic 100-meter hurdles gold medalist. She served the USOC previously as director of its Chula Vista, Calif., Olympic Training Center (1995-97), of all three USOC Training Centers (1997-2000) and of its public relations programs (2000-01).

From 2001-09, she was was president and chief executive of Women in Cable Telecommunications.

"I'm excited about working with Scott," Fitzgerald Mosley said, simply, in a telephone interview from Des Moines, Iowa, where the U.S. track and field national championships are underway.

She is due to take up her new position in August.

"I'm extraordinarily excited about this addition to our team," Blackmun said in a statement. "We have to ensure that we continue to evolve as an organization and hold ourselves to the same standards as our athletes, and Benita will help us do just that."

For one thing, what Fitzgerald Mosley will do is bring an athlete's perspective to executive-level meetings in the Springs. Everyone else in that room might think they know what an athlete wants or needs. Fitzgerald Mosley knows for sure. That's invaluable.

For another, Fitzgerald Mosley brings diversity. There's no getting around this. She is African-American. She is female. Blackmun has repeatedly pledged that enhancing diversity is a USOC priority, and Fitzgerald Mosley's hiring is proof that the USOC is not just talking the talk.

"He and I certainly didn't talk about that," Fitzgerald Mosley said, adding, "I certainly recognize that's a plus in my hiring. Breaking through barriers or at least overcoming them is something I'm used to doing as hurdler."

Blackmun has plenty this 2013 on his plate, in particular the contours of a potential 2024 Summer Games bid and the search for a chief development officer who could multiply fund-raising levels. Practically speaking, that means Fitzgerald Mosley is going to have plenty to do, too -- again, a smart play by Blackmun.

Unlike some chief executives who are control freaks, Blackmun is more than confident enough in himself to hire someone as capable as Fitzgerald Mosley, to not be threatened by her and to trust her and and the rest of his team to get their jobs done. This is the winning culture he has helped create at the USOC since coming on board in January, 2010.

Take note of this USOC statement:

"Fitzgerald Mosley will oversee a number of organizational priorities that will utilize her unique perspective, including athlete career programs and the athlete ombudsman's office. Additionally, she will assume many of the responsibilities of outgoing Chief Administrative Officer Kirsten Volpi, including diversity and inclusion, human resources, facilities, NGB organizational development, security, and strategic planning."

Volpi is leaving the USOC to return to the Colorado School of Mines, in Golden, Colo., west of Denver, where she previously served as chief financial officer.

In other changes:

USOC chief financial office Walt Glover will take on further responsibility for information technology and audit. He will report to Blackmun.

Rick Adams has been named chief of sport operations and NGB relations. He will add oversight of the three Olympic Training Centers to his NGB organizational development portfolio. He will report to Fitzgerald Mosley.

Mike English, who had been chief of sport operations, is leaving.