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USA Cycling hit with layoffs

Facing a "serious budget shortfall," USA Cycling has eliminated both its endurance track and women's road programs as well as eliminating nearly 20 percent of its total work force. The organization's staff and administration met Thursday afternoon to review a series of personnel and program cuts designed to lower costs in what USA Cycling CEO Lisa Voight attributed at least in part to "a post-Olympic reduction in sponsorship dollars." Hardest hit, in what chief operating officer Steve Johnson referred to as a "reorganization," was USA Cycling's athlete performance department. Several coaching

Facing a “serious budget shortfall,” USA Cycling has eliminated both its endurance track and women’s road programs as well as eliminating nearly 20 percent of its total work force. The organization’s staff and administration met Thursday afternoon to review a series of personnel and program cuts designed to lower costs in what USA Cycling CEO Lisa Voight attributed at least in part to “a post-Olympic reduction in sponsorship dollars.” Hardest hit, in what chief operating officer Steve Johnson referred to as a “reorganization,” was USA Cycling’s athlete performance department. Several coaching positions, including the resident-athlete coach, endurance track coach, women’s road coach and three mechanic’s positions were eliminated. The mountain-bike coaching position recently vacated by Stephane Girard remains open and is expected to be filled later this year. “This has been a tough day,” Johnson told VeloNews on Thursday evening. “This has been a tough couple of months. We’ve been aware of the budget problems and all of us have had to sit down and decide what our priorities are and what we have to cut.” Johnson added that while programs that focus on elite athletes have been dramatically cut, membership services – those programs dedicated to the majority of licensees – have suffered less of a hit. “The bad news is we had to cut from the athlete performance budget,” he said. “The good news – if there is any – is that we’re renewing our focus on the membership.” Among those staff members terminated on Thursday, however, was membership services coordinator Warren Conrad, once responsible to provide services to all USA Cycling members. His duties will now be assumed by U.S. Cycling Federation managing director Evan Call, and NORBA’s Leslie Klein. “Managing directors will also take a more active role in maintaining and increasing membership,” a late afternoon press release noted. Johnson had mentioned in an earlier interview with VeloNews that those responsible for membership programs will be required to meet specific goals. “Well, for one thing, this year every unit at USA Cycling will have a set of goals and markers … expectations of performance,” Johnson said. “All management-level people will have those and will be held accountable to those markers – like an increase in membership or an increase in permitted events – something specific, something concrete. The point is that if you don’t meet those goals, there is some sort of repercussion. There is responsibility and accountability. That is fairly new to the organization.” The duties of John Tarbert, who until Thursday was USA Cycling’s technical director, are to be divided among existing staff and one new employee to be hired later in the year. “Some of his responsibilities as far as enforcing doping rules have already been taken over by USADA (the new U.S. Anti-doping Agency),” Johnson said. “The job of complying with UCI rules will go to (USCF events director) Tara Morris and we will be hiring one person to coordinate the training and licensing of officials.” Also among those fired on Thursday were long-time women’s road coach Henny Top and endurance track coach Craig Griffen, the husband of CEO Voight. “We had to cut those programs,” Johnson said. “We just don’t have the resources. Our big goal for this year is to try and bring those programs back on with sponsors.” Other programs in the athlete performance department are already being funded in part through assistance generated by the new USA Cycling Development Foundation, an affiliate until recently headed by Johnson. The organization has raised more than $800,000 since its creation in June and is already funding about half of USA Cycling’s elite programs. Part of the effort to secure program specific sponsors will fall to the organization’s recently hired marketing director, Mary Monroe. “The good news is we have recognized and addressed the urgent need for sponsorship dollars by creating USA Cycling’s first-ever marketing department,” Voight said in a release issued Thursday. “We believe the long-term outlook for the sponsorship of cycling is very bright.” Marketing responsibilities were once handled almost exclusively by Johnson’s predecessor, Philip Milburn. It was a task Johnson said he did not want to take on. “My focus is on operations, on process, on improving the way things work. I want to make this a better organization,” Johnson said. Johnson said the cuts were difficult, but they needed to be made. “I never want to have to be in the position of having to do this again,” he said. “I’m pretty certain I won’t. I think we can make this work.”