NBA executive Leung named president of USA Gymnastics

USA Gymnastics is in jeopardy of losing national governing status in the wake of struggles to move beyond imprisoned former team doctor Nassar being linked to hundreds of sexual assaults on young gymnasts.

USA Gymnastics is turning to NBA executive Li Li Leung to help turn the embattled program around after naming her the new president and chief executive officer.   -  AP

USA Gymnastics, fighting for its survival in the wake of the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal, appointed former NBA executive Li Li Leung as president and CEO on Tuesday.

Leung, a youth and college gymnast herself, has been a vice president at the NBA. Her duties included working with USA Basketball, the sport's national governing body. That is a status USA Gymnastics is in jeopardy of losing in the wake of struggles to move beyond imprisoned former team doctor Nassar being linked to hundreds of sexual assaults on young US gymnasts.

“Like everyone, I was upset and angry to learn about the abuse and the institutions that let the athletes down,” Leung said. “I admire the courage and strength of the survivors and I will make it a priority to see that their claims are resolved.”

READ | How the Larry Nassar scandal failed USA gymnastics

An extensive search for new leadership inside and outside the gymnastics community led to Leung becoming the fourth USA Gymnastics chief executive in 23 months.

The US Olympic Committee has threatened to disband USA Gymnastics for failing to reform since Nassar was jailed for life last year after abusing more than 250 athletes, several of them stars of the US 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medal-winning teams. USA Gymnastics, which had been accused of covering up Nassar's crimes, has been in a perpetual crisis ever since the scandal erupted.

Last October, newly-installed chief executive Mary Bono resigned after just four days following an outcry by Olympic stars Simone Biles and Aly Raisman. Bono had taken over from Kerry Perry, who had resigned after just nine months after criticism of her performance by USOC.

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“I am honored to be the next CEO of USA Gymnastics,” Leung said. “For me, this is much more than a job: it is a personal calling, for which I stand ready to answer. I look forward to collaborating with the entire gymnastics community to create further change going forward, which requires that we implement important initiatives to strengthen athlete health and safety and build a clear and inclusive plan for the future.”

- 'Strengthen, transform' -

“Li Li's unique combination of business skills, management experience and passion for gymnastics make her perfectly suited to lead our organization at this important time in our history,” said Kathryn Carson, USA Gymnastics board chair.

“The board looks forward to supporting Li Li as she delivers her vision to transform and strengthen our organization and culture.”

Leung will assume her new duties March 8 at the USA Gymnastics headquarters in Indianapolis.