NBA Exec Tapped as USA Gymnastics CEO

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(photo courtesy of USA Gymnastics) (photo courtesy of USA Gymnastics)

The board of directors for Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics has selected Li Li Leung as president and chief executive officer. Leung is the third CEO in as many years for the embattled organization, which is still reeling from the sexual abuse scandal involving former team doctor Larry Nassar. She most recently served as a vice president for the National Basketball Association and also has previous involvement with USA Basketball. 

Leung will begin her new role March 8. Kathryn Carson, board chair for USA Gymnastics, says Leung's combination of business skills, management experience and passion for gymnastics makes her "perfectly suited" for the position.

"She brings strong leadership, organizational and communication skills from her over two-decade professional career in sports business and management," said Carson. "She also has deep roots in gymnastics, having competed at a high level before moving to collegiate gymnastics. We are thrilled to have Li Li as our next president and CEO, and the Board looks forward to supporting Li Li as she delivers her vision to transform and strengthen our organization and culture."

Leung herself is a former gymnast, representing the United States in the 1988 Junior Pan American Games and competing for the University of Michigan. She also served as a volunteer assistant gymnastics coach at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

"I am honored to be the next CEO of USA Gymnastics and to lead an organization that plays an important role in a sport that I care deeply about and had so much positive influence on my life," Leung said in a news release. “Like everyone, I was upset and angry to learn about the abuse and the institutions that let the athletes down. I admire the courage and strength of the survivors, and I will make it a priority to see that their claims are resolved. I look forward to collaborating with the entire gymnastics community to create further change going forward, which requires that we implement important initiatives to strengthen athlete health and safety and build a clear and inclusive plan for the future."

Former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny resigned in March 2017 amid allegations of the organization's slow reaction time to sex abuse claims involving Nassar. He was succeeded by Kerry Perry the following November, however she stepped down from the role less than a year later. In October, the board appointed Mary Bono as interim CEO, but she resigned four days later after receiving criticism for a since-deleted controversial tweet that resurfaced.

In December, USA Gymnastics filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a move it said would allow the organization to more quickly resolve legal claims made by athletes who were victims of Nassar. The Indiana Attorney General's office also announced it was investigating USA Gymnastics.

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