Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
KEARNS — U.S. Speedskating announced a new executive director Tuesday, and he’s a man who’s spent his career helping Olympic sports like skiing and snowboarding generate revenue through partnerships with private companies like MetLife and Kellogg’s.
Ted Morris will leave his job as a senior vice president for Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment to lead U.S. speedskating just as the athletes prepare for the 2014 Olympics.
“I see the potential,” Morris said Tuesday morning after his first meeting with the organization’s staff. “I see the positive. I don’t see the negative. I think there are a lot of opportunities. Many of the big issues they’re having have to do with money. They need money. I think I can provide a plan to increase revenue. I know if we can increase revenue, that’s going to make everyone associated with the sport happier.” Morris said he understands both the needs of organizations like U.S. speedskating and the needs of corporations that could and do provide badly needed financial backing for U.S. athletes.
“NGBs (national governing bodies), they think sometimes that corporate companies should support them more as a charity,” Morris said. “That’s not the way the world works. There has to be value back to the company.”
The turmoil that’s engulfed the organization for the past year was not a deterrent.
“You kind of see what Mike (Plant, president of the board) has done in the six months since he took over, the changes he’s made, and you know what, you think, ‘Now they understand what they need to do to be successful.’ And maybe that wasn’t the case six months ago. I think it was a great time to come in and get involved with the organization. Now there is an opportunity to be successful, where that might not necessarily have been the case a few months ago.”
A former college athlete, Morris believes his perspective will provide new opportunities for generating revenue.
“I understand revenue-generating sports,” he said. “I understand how hard it is for these athletes and appreciate their dedication and commitment, despite the fact that they may never make a big paycheck.”
His first order of business is simple, he said.
“Making sure athletes and coaches have absolutely everything they need to have success.”
He wants them focusing on competing, while he makes the organization financially viable. Last year, the organization reported a deficit of more than $750,000, due in part to failed or non-existent sponsorship deals.
Morris said his goal is to ensure the athletes only concern is their athletic performance.
“I want them to be standing on the starting line prepared with no doubts,” Morris said.
He also hopes to put the accomplishments of the athletes, which includes the most decorated in Olympic history, center stage once again.
“U.S. speedskating, the staff, we’re not the stars,” Morris said. “U.S. speedskating — its logo is only as big and as popular as its star athletes are. We have to get those stories out there, to get our athletes in the public’s eye. Hopefully we can build a little bit of a runway before takeoff in Sochi that can help us, help the American public recognize these athletes.”
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