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USA Fencing Board Approves Motions Related to Grievance Committee, Conflicts of Interest and Succession Planning

03/13/2023, 2:00pm CDT
By Bryan Wendell

During the meeting, which was held virtually, the Board discussed succession planning, Hall of Fame selection criteria, conflict of interest and whistleblower policies, the appointment of a Grievance and Disciplinary Committee and more.

Photo by Serge Timacheff

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The USA Fencing Board of Directors met March 9 to tackle more than a dozen motions left unaddressed at the Board’s Feb. 16 meeting (a recap of which can be found here) as well as new business brought forward.

During the meeting, which was held virtually, the Board discussed succession planning, Hall of Fame selection criteria, conflict of interest and whistleblower policies, the appointment of a Grievance and Disciplinary Committee and more.

Here’s a recap of highlights — a quick summary organized by topic for those who were unable to attend. For a complete overview of everything discussed at the meeting, read the Minutes.

Grievance & Disciplinary Committee

  • Motion 7: Following the approval of the new Grievance & Disciplinary Procedure, the Board approved four new members of the Grievance & Disciplinary Committee. This includes two independent members with related experience designed to give further objectivity to the disciplinary process in USA Fencing. The Athlete Council approved an additional two members.

    • Mark House (Phoenix, Ariz. – Independent) - Chair

    • Charles Simon (New York City, N.Y. – Independent)

    • David Eldridge (Springfield, Ill.)

    • Ken Gauvey (Baltimore, Md.)

    • Ellen Geddes PLY (Aiken, S.C.) — Appointed by Athlete Council

    • Daria Schneider (Boston, Mass.) — Appointed by Athlete Council

    • Board Liaison: Darryl Jacobs (Independent)

Succession Planning

  • Motion 1: To ensure a smooth future for USA Fencing, the Board approved a motion to adopt a CEO & Staff Leadership succession plan.

  • Motion 2: In the unlikely event the Chair is unavailable to serve, the Board approved a plan to allow Donald Alperstein to operate in the stead of the Chair. It’s important to note this motion doesn’t create a succession plan or appoint a vice chair but only ensures there’s someone the organization may turn to in the event of the Chair’s unexpected unavailability. 

USA Fencing Hall of Fame

  • Motion 3: The Board discussed whether to change the Hall of Fame selection process to consider objective criteria for selection — a move that would make the Hall of Fame process more transparent to membership while still incorporating the voice of members. A further motion to review the Contributor category was referred to the Hall of Fame Committee for comment.

  • Motion 4: The board approved a process for removing individuals from the Hall of Fame, in the extreme circumstances that an inductee is deemed permanently ineligible to participate in USA Fencing events.

Conflict of Interest and Whistleblower Policies

  • Motion 8: The Board approved an updated Conflict of Interest Policy for USA Fencing (available here in Appendix F). The updates bring the policy in line with operational practices and additionally satisfy various U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee audit requirements. 

  • Motion 9: The Board approved the USA Fencing Whistleblower Policy (available here as Appendix G), formalizing the steps an individual would take to share information pertinent to the effective and ethical operation of USA Fencing. The change also brings USA Fencing in line with relevant USOPC audit requirements.

Russian and Belorussian Participation

  • Motion 11: The Board approved a motion to instruct USA Fencing’s representatives, both at the USOPC and at the FIE, to convey USA Fencing’s previously adopted position on participation in international competition and, where the opportunity arises, to vote against the inclusion of Russian and Belorussian athletes, coaches, and other personnel in the qualifications for and in the Paris Olympic Games. 

Miscellaneous Items of Note

  • Motion 6: The Board OK’d the move of USA Fencing and the U.S. Fencing Foundation's primary financial institution from First Interstate Bank to Community Banks of Colorado, with no effect on USA Fencing's other banking relationship. 

  • Motion 12: The Board considered a motion on strip coaching — specifically an exception in USA Fencing rules that allows coaches and spectators to give advice to fencers during competitions. The motion argues that conforming to the rules applied by the FIE and other national federations would better prepare U.S. fencers for international competition and help restore civility among all participants. This motion was referred to the Referees’ Commission, Tournament Committee and National Coaches for further review.

  • Motion 14: The Board looked at a motion to create a U.S. Fencing Coaches Committee, which would advise the Board of Directors and National Office on matters concerning the fencing coaches community, assist with representation on various committees and resource groups, identify qualified candidates for leadership positions, and research ways to increase the knowledge base of coaches. This was withdrawn so a working group of Abdel Salem OLY–Egypt, Phil Andrews and Ben Bratton could further review the proposal.

Next meeting of the USA Fencing Board of Directors

10 a.m. ET on Sunday, April 16, 2023.

Tag(s): Updates