For the second time in as many years, Southeastern Conference commissioner Harvey W. Schiller has agreed to become executive director of the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Schiller, who took the SEC job in 1986, agreed in January 1988 to accept the Olympic post, only to return to the SEC after three weeks. At the time, he cited personal and professional reasons, including health problems from which he has recovered.The USOC's executive board meets next week in Denver to approve Schiller's appointment to succeed Baaron Pittenger, whose term is scheduled to end Dec. 31, 1990.
The USOC executive director, based in Colorado Springs, Colo., is responsible for the daily operation of the organization, whose policies are created by the executive board.
Schiller announced his resignation from the SEC on Wednesday but said he will remain until a date to be agreed upon by the presidents of the conference's 10 schools.
Donald Zacharias, president of Mississippi State University and of the SEC, was out of the country, but University of Georgia president Charles Knapp, the SEC's vice president, said a search for a successor would begin immediately.
"The conference accepts Dr. Schiller's resignation with regret and appreciation for his extraordinary service to both the conference and its individual schools," Knapp said. "We wish Dr. Schiller the best in his new undertaking and know he will be successful."
Schiller was the fifth SEC commissioner, succeeding H. Boyd McWhorter when he retired.
Schiller developed such projects as the SEC's football and basketball television packages, the acquisition of funds to establish post-graduate scholarships for athletes, and the establishment of positions in athletics administration for minorities and women in the conference office at Birmingham.
He was a consultant to the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee in 1984, and participated in the administration of the Games as the director of competition at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. He was chairman of the Games Preparation Committee of the USOC and has had various other roles in the Olympic movement.
A colonel in the Air Force, Schiller was head of the chemistry department and faculty chairman of athletics at the Air Force Academy when he came to the SEC.
"I will be leaving a position here at the SEC that has been extremely rewarding to me and my family," he said. "At the same time, I am looking forward to the challenges presented by this leadership position with the USOC.
"There has always been a special place in my heart for the Olympic movement and I feel a special challenge to lead efforts to further strengthen the place the Olympics hold in the hearts and minds of the American people.
"I truly feel good about the direction the Southeastern Conference is headed. I look for the league to continue its leadership position in the world of intercollegiate athletics, primarily because of the many outstanding individuals serving our institutions. I will definitely miss my association with the SEC `family.' These have been the best years of my life."