University of Utah gymnastics Coach Greg Marsden emphatically denies accusations by the president of the U.S. Gymnastics Federation that he is the source of a news report that surfaced Wednesday saying that the USGF is under investigation for wrongdoing by the U.S. Justice Department.
The story, which first appeared in the Los Angeles Times Wednesday, said the USGF failed to report nearly $1.7 million in income over the past two years and charged that executive director Mike Jacki had favored former business associates in transactions with the USGF.Jacki said accounts of the missing money are true - it stems from problems of a widespread organization relying on volunteers - and that he discovered it soon after he took office and reported it to the USGF board.
USGF President Mike Donahue angrily reacted to the L.A. Times report Thursday in the Indianapolis Star, saying it will detract from the athletes' accomplishments this week in the U.S. Olympic trials in Salt Lake City.
Donahue told the Star that Marsden may have been the source for the Times story. Marsden was made the USGF's national women's gymnastics administrator and head coach last summer but resigned in November because of disagreements over policies with Jacki and Donahue, as well as board members. The resignation was kept quiet until January. Jacki and Donahue flew to Salt Lake City to talk Marsden out of quitting, but when it became apparent that the proper concessions wouldn't be made, he resigned publicly.
"He was relieved of that position and has become very bitter and made a lot of accusations," Donahue said of Marsden.
"I want to go on record as saying I had nothing to do with the story and tried to kill it because I didn't think it was legitimate," said Marsden. He said the Times reporter contacted him two weeks ago to comment on the report and that he refused comment and told the reporter the story would mislead the public into thinking there was wrongdoing where there wasn't.
"Number 1, I'm not bitter at Donahue or Jacki or the USGF. It was my decision to resign," said Marsden, adding he could have policy disagreements and still support those people and the USGF.
"Number 2, that reporter two weeks ago called me and asked me to comment, and my comments were in support of Mike Jacki and the USGF. I told her there were persons who had vendettas with Mike Jacki and wanted to ruin his career and, basically, she was being used," Marsden says.
He said he knows who the sources are because they called him this spring, after he'd resigned as national coach, and asked him to help them "get" Jacki. He refused. He said the people are no longer with the USGF.
As for the USGF's problems, Marsden says, "It's just the nature of a volunteer organization. It's not like they tried to defraud the government. It's a poor situation with accounting."
Marsden is not as understanding in his beef with Donahue. This is the second time, says Marsden, that Donahue has misrepresented him in the press. The first was immediately after Marsden resigned for good. Donahue held a press conference and said Marsden had been replaced. Now, Donahue accuses Marsden of being bitter and leaking an anti-USGF story to the media.
"He has not told the truth," Marsden says. "He paints me to be this guy they got rid of. Number 1, that's not true, and No. 2, I had nothing to do with the story," Marsden says.