Scott Morris responds to SafeSport suspension and USA CRITS departure
Former USA CRITS managing director says newspaper clipping from 15 years ago - 'something I was found not guilty of' - was the cause for his SafeSport suspension.
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Scott Morris, formerly managing director of USA CRITS, was temporarily suspended by U.S. Center for SafeSport, an organization that works with Olympic sports to protect participants from emotional, physical, and sexual abuse and misconduct. As word of this spread on cycling social media, this led to Morris’ termination from USA CRITS, and questions from teams and others about what criterium racing in the United States will look like in 2022.
Morris spoke to VeloNews about his perspective on what has happened, which he says pivots on a closed criminal case involving child pornography dating back to 2008.
“This does not involve anything current. This involves something from 15 years ago that someone sent them a press clipping of. Something that I was not found guilty of,” Morris said. “I said I was innocent from the beginning. I have no legal restrictions against me. There are no new charges. There is no one saying I did anything to them.”
“I am now going to appeal that temporary suspension, even though it doesn’t matter — the damage is done,” he said.
Dan Hill, a spokesman for U.S. SafeSport, told VeloNews that his organization does not discuss specific matters to protect the integrity of the process.
U.S. SafeSport works with USA Cycling much in the way the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency does, as a third party overseeing athletes.
“One thing I can say is that temporary measures are a tool SafeSport uses to protect participants while it carries out its investigative work; it’s not a finding,” Hill said. “A temporary measure can be arbitrated, just as a sanction can be at the end of an investigation with a finding.”
VeloNews also contacted USA Cycling for comment but has not yet received a response.
USA CRITS consists of independently operated criteriums around the country that are unified in a points-based series for the top teams, known as D1 teams.
Also read: USA CRITS teams respond to Morris’ termination, and the future of U.S. crit racing
Morris said he found out about the U.S. SafeSport temporary suspension from a colleague, not directly. U.S. SafeSport posts its decisions for both temporary suspensions during investigation and sanctions if applicable after investigations have concluded. The information posted is minimal.
“I called USA Cycling. They sent me to SafeSport, who said I would get a certified letter,” Morris said. “Three days later I got that letter. That night I got an email.”
(VeloNews asked to see the email, but Morris and his lawyer declined.)
Morris said the letter and email detailed why he was given the temporary suspension. As this came before the final USA CRITS event in Winston-Salem, Morris and the USA CRITS agreed that he would not attend that final race, Morris said.
Morris contends that the temporary suspension is because U.S. SafeSport is just beginning to investigate.
“This was from a news article from a 15-year-old case that they never contacted me, USA CRITS, or anybody else about before making that finding,” Morris said. “There is absolutely no allegation about anything to do with cycling.”
Further, Morris contends that the temporary suspension is because he applied for a USA Cycling license in order to participate in a race earlier this year. “The crazy thing is that it had nothing to do with my job, but because I signed up as an athlete,” he said. “This has nothing to do with USA CRITS at all. They sent this thing that said I couldn’t be involved in any bike race, can’t be near any bike race. They painted with a big, broad brush.”
Morris said he doesn’t know who notified U.S. SafeSport of his case from 2008.
“Do I believe there is a vindictive motive behind this? Yes,” Morris said. “But we may never get to know the reason behind that. We are setting up arbitration to get the temporary suspension removed. But now that it is out of the bag, it can’t be put back in the bag.”