The United States Olympic Committee has announced that Larry Probst will step down as chair of the board at the end of the 2018 and will be succeeded Susanne Lyons. Lyons is a member of the USOC’s board and served as the USOC’s interim CEO from February 28–August 20, until Sarah Hirshland was appointed CEO in July. Lyons will begin her four-year term as chair on January 1, 2019.
“I’m honored that the board has entrusted me with this position, eager to continue to support our Olympic and Paralympic athletes, and ready to do the work necessary to regain the trust of our athlete community; particularly survivors of abuse,” said Lyons. “I’ve been associated with the Olympic and Paralympic movements for nearly two decades and never dreamed I would be in this position. It’s no secret that the USOC is at a critically challenging time in its history and we simply must get it right. I intend to make sure we do.”
The announcement is another in a string of leadership changes in the United States Olympic movement following the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal. One week ago, Kerry Perry resigned from her position as president and CEO of USA Gymnastics days after Hirshland called for more changes in the organization. Hirshland succeeds former CEO Scott Blackmun, who resigned in February citing ongoing health issues resulting from prostate cancer. Blackmun also faced criticism for the USOC’s handling of sexual abuse scandals involving USA Gymnastics and other national governing bodies.
Probst was first elected chair of the board in October 2008 and reelected in 2012 and 2016. He led board approval of an athlete safety program and the launch of the U.S. Center for SafeSport. He also oversaw the successful renegotiation of the USOC’s revenue sharing agreement with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), a move that led to his election to the IOC in 2013.
“Larry led the USOC at a critical time in the history of the organization,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “At the same time, he became a trusted voice and valuable member of the IOC, chairing one of the most important commissions, he played a crucial role in the creation of the Olympic Channel and its success both worldwide and in the United States. Under his leadership, and through his personal efforts, the standing of the United States in the international sport community was greatly improved. The awarding of the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games to Los Angeles is a fitting testament to his efforts.”
During Probst’s tenure, Team USA athletes topped the Olympic medal counts in Vancouver, London and Rio as well as the Paralympic medal count at the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang. Probst is a member of the Association of National Olympic Committees Executive Council and the Panam Sports Organization’s Executive Committee.
“Serving as chairman of the USOC board of directors has been an extraordinary honor and I’m proud of the work we did during my tenure to support American athletes and advance the Olympic and Paralympic movements,” said Probst. “I became chairman at a difficult time for the USOC and worked diligently with my colleagues here in the U.S., and around the world, to change the USOC for the better. It’s now time for a new generation of leaders to confront the challenges facing the organization and I have the utmost confidence in Susanne’s and Sarah’s ability to do just that.”
Lyons was first elected to the USOC board in December 2010. In January 2018, she was selected as chair of the USOC board’s working group that was formed to address issues of athlete safety, and a response to the Nassar case specifically. With more than 30 years of experience in organizational management, marketing, sponsorship, business strategy and revenue generation, Lyons also served as executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Visa USA and held leadership roles for Charles Schwab & Co., and Fidelity Investments.