The devastation left in the wake of the massive Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal is still sending tremors through USA Gymnastics. Since the initial reports of the Nassar scandal shocked the nation, USA Gymnastics has tried a series of public steps to win back public trust. To date, though, every step has been met with rippling outrage, as more details of the abuse scandal coincided with the organization’s efforts to mitigate the PR crisis.
The latest headline involves the resignation of Chief Operating Officer Ron Galimore. This decision seems to have come in response to the news that USA Gymnastics may face decertification of its status as the national governing organization of the sport. This threat is being made directly in response to concerns about the way USA Gymnastics handled the mountain of complaints against Nassar.
The reason Galimore is the latest high-profile USA Gymnastics official to take the fall appears to be connected to a recent media story which accuses Galimore of potentially misleading people about Nassar’s absence from a major gymnastics event as recently as 2015. While USA Gymnastics was reviewing allegations made against Nassar, Galimore was being told to “advise people (Nassar) wasn’t feeling well and decided to stay home…”
This email suggestion, which was obtained and published by a major newspaper, is being called yet more evidence that USA Gymnastics “covered up” the assault allegations against Nassar, electing not to disclose the allegations or their investigation to other organizations offered services by Nassar. USA Gymnastics responded that they had been advised by the FBI not to disclose these complaints.
Meanwhile, Galimore’s continued connection to the organization, which is in the process of trying to hire its fourth president and CEO in the past two years, proved to be a hot-button issue for critics of USA Gymnastics, including many of Nassar’s victims. Their message seemed to be: if Galimore is still there, USA Gymnastics is not really that serious about making significant changes.
Now, with Galimore gone, that narrative is gone with him, offering USA Gymnastics yet another chance to determine the right move to begin rebuilding trust. So far, this goal has proven elusive, as, with each firing or new statement, critics responded with more suspicion.
Meanwhile, for Galimore, the ouster is a difficult fall from grace. A member of the 1980 US Summer Olympic team that took part in a symbolic boycott of the Moscow Games, Galimore has become a different kind of symbol, part of a system that is considered by many too corrupt to continue.