USA Gymnastics interim president resigns following Olympian backlash
Mary Bono was appointed to the position on Friday to replace Kerry Perry, who resigned in September after just nine months on job.
Rep. Mary Bono Mack speaks onstage during the 22nd Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala at the Palm Springs Convention Center on Jan. 8, 2011 in Palm Springs, California.John Shearer / Getty Images For PSFF file
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USA Gymnastics interim president and CEO Mary Bono has quickly stepped down on Tuesday — spending just a weekend on the job — following criticism by two Olympic gold medal winners.
Part of the backlash against Bono was over an anti-Nike tweet she posted last month aimed at former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Bono released a statement on Tuesday announcing her departure, writing that in the wake of her tweet she had experienced personal attacks that "left undefended, would have made my leading USAG a liability for the organization."
Hey all, I know the Tweet will live on but have taken it down to move the focus to all I hope to accomplish on behalf of a great sport & those who are dedicated to it
"With respect to Mr. Kaepernick, he nationally exercised his First Amendment right to kneel. I exercised mine: to mark over on my own golf shoes, the logo of the company sponsoring him for 'believing in something even if it means sacrificing everything' — while at a tournament for families who have lost a member of the armed services (including my brother-in-law, a Navy SEAL) who literally 'sacrificed everything,'" she wrote.
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"It was an emotional reaction to the sponsor's use of that phrase that caused me to tweet, and I regret that at the time I didn't better clarify my feelings. That one tweet has now been made the litmus test of my reputation over almost two decades of public service."
Bono was appointed to the position on Friday to replace Kerry Perry, who resigned in September after just nine months on job.
Just one day on the job in, Bono came under fire on Saturday after Olympic gymnast Simone Biles called her out for the Nike tweet.
"*Mouth drop* Don’t worry, it’s not like we needed a smarter USA Gymnastics president or any sponsors or anything," Biles tweeted.
Bono responded by saying she regretted posting the tweet.
"This doesn't reflect how I will approach my position @USAGym," she wrote. "I will do everything I can to help build, w/the community, an open, safe & positive environment."
Bono later deleted the anti-Nike tweet.
Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman then piled more criticism on, tweeting Monday that Bono's law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels was aware of sexual abuse allegations against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who has been convicted of molesting several girls in his care, as well as possessing child pornography.
"Why hire someone associated with the firm that helped cover up our abuse?," Raisman tweeted.
The USA Gymnastics board of directors put out a statement saying they had accepted Bono's resignation and "we remain steadfast in our efforts to fundamentally transform the organization at all levels to ensure athlete safety and well-being is at the heart of everything we do."
U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland released a statement saying "While the situation is unfortunate, we know that USA Gymnastics remains dedicated to the process of finding a new and permanent CEO. The USOC is committed to working hard with the USAG board to find the right leader who can build gymnastics up to the world-class organization we know that it can and should be. Both the USOC staff and myself will continue to work closely with USAG in both the short and long term as they search for a new leader. The well-being of Team USA athletes is our top priority as we manage this process."