The U.S. Gymnastics Federation, hoping to end the squabbling among club coaches that has detracted from preparations for the Seoul Games, Tuesday abolished the job of U.S. Olympic women's coach.
Instead, the six females on the team will be accompanied to Seoul by their private coaches, who will work out a strategy for the team segment of the Olympic competition.Only two coaches are allowed on the floor at the same time during the Olympics.
Susan Polakoff, spokeswoman for the USGF, announced the move one day after Don Peters resigned as coach and Romanian defector Bela Karolyi refused to take his place. Karolyi said he suggested the compromise plan accepted by the USGF.
"There absolutely will not be an Olympic head coach," Polakoff said from the U.S. Olympic Committee headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo. "Each personal coach will accompany their own gymnast or gymnasts to Seoul.
"The personal coaches will meet this weekend to talk about who will be on the floor during the Olympics."
The change in policy affects the women's team only. The men's squad, composed primarily of NCAA gymnasts, will be led by longtime Coach Abie Grossfeld, who guided the 1984 Olympic team to the gold medal.
Karolyi coaches Olympians Phoebe Mills, Chelle Stack and Brandy Johnson and alternates Rhonda Faehn and Kristie Phillips. The other team members - Melissa Marlowe, Hope Spivey and Kelly Garrison-Steves - are coached by Mark Lee, Becky Buwick and Bill and Donna Strauss.
Peters guided the U.S. Olympic team to a silver medal in 1984. In resigning, Peters criticized USGF Director Mike Jacki for failing to defend the organization's selection of him.
"(Jacki) has chosen to remain `neutral' and has been ambiguous at best in his support," Peters said. ""This allowed the controversy to swell to disastrous proportions."
Karolyi said he has requested a multiple-coach format for several years.
"It is the greatest incentive I can see happening for the whole sport," he said. "In the next years there will be many, many young ones who would not have had the opportunity to say, `One of these days, I can be a national team coach.' This situation is going to become an established procedure from now on, and it will be a tremendous incentive."