After a weekend of controversy that threatened to keep snowballing and hurt the Americans' chances in Seoul, Korea, U.S. Olympic women's gymnastics Coach Don Peters resigned suddenly Monday. "He called me yesterday," U.S. Gymnastics Federation Executive Director Mike Jacki told the Deseret News Tuesday morning by telephone from his Indianapolis office.
It has been decided that the personal coaches of each athlete will continue to handle their own gymnasts in the Olympics. "That's the plan now," Jacki said.Peters' resignation was announced two days after the completion of the Olympic trials in Salt Lake City.
"I know he was under a lot of pressure. It was a difficult situation," Jacki said.
"I think Don saw it was going to be difficult for a third party to have the type of control he felt he would need," Jacki said.
Peters, of Huntington Beach, Calif., the 1984 silver-medal team's coach, had been approved as U.S. coach in March after University of Utah Coach Greg Marsden resigned the same position officially in January.
Peters had expected to place athletes from his Southern California Acro Team club on the Olympic team, but two withdrew from competition Saturday in Salt Lake City with injuries and a third failed to qualify.
When rival Bela Karolyi's Houston club placed three athletes in the top six and two others won alternate status for the American team Saturday, the coaching controversy had new fuel, Karolyi saying he refused to attend training camp at SCATS and that he would not go to the Olympics without official accreditation for be on the competition floor.
Before he left Salt Lake City, Peters was saying he wouldn't resign and that he wanted to talk personally with Karolyi.
With Peters' resignation, said Jacki, the personal coaches of the gymnasts will handle their own athletes in training, and all will be accredited for the Olympics. Still, only two will be allowed on the floor during the team competition, but that arrangement will be worked out later. All of the personal coaches except Karolyi had planned to attend training camp and the Olympics.
"I'm in favor of it," Jacki said."Not only do we think it's going to work, it's something we'll see a lot more of in future. That trend is looked on favorably in the coaching community."
Jacki said the coaches involved - Salt Lake City's Mark Lee, coach of Missy Marlowe; Karolyi and wife Martha, coaches of Phoebe Mills, Brandy Johnson, Chelle Stack and alternates Rhonda Faehn and Kristie Phillips; Becky Buwick, coach of Kelly Garrison-Steves; and Bill and Donna Strauss, coaches of Hope Spivey - will meet with USGF officials this weekend at an exhibition in Charlotte, N.C., to determine when the team will come together for a formal training camp.
That camp was to have begun Sunday at SCATS but will be postponed. "My personal opinion is that it would be around the third week of August," Jacki said.
In a report from UPI, Peters criticized Jacki for not supporting him properly.
"(Jacki) has chosen to remain `neutral' and has been ambiguous at best in his support," said Peters. "This allowed the controversy to swell to disastrous proportions.
"Principals involved with the team, both coaches and athletes, have been forced to take sides in what has become a media sidehow that currently threatens our team's chances for success in Seoul.
"Taking into consideration all that has transpired, I feel that it is in the best interests of the U.S. team for me to step down."
Karolyi applauded Peters' move. "I do admire his courage in what he has done, knowing how much he wanted the position, and finally to resign is an act of courage and an act of understanding the situation," Karolyi told UPIfrom Houston.
On another matter, Jacki confirmed that the top six athletes will be the competing team in Seoul and that alternates can move up only in the case that one of the top six "is injured to the point they can't compete." Karolyi and Phillips, the former national champion, were telling reporters over the weekend that Phillips could move onto the performing team from her second alternate status if she did well in coming exhibitions.