INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Longtime USA Gymnastics chief operating officer Ron Galimore resigned Friday, the latest high-profile departure for the embattled organization in the wake of the Larry Nassar scandal.
The move came as USA Gymnastics is facing decertification of its status as the national governing body for the sport amid concerns about its leadership and the way it handled complaints against Nassar. The former team doctor is now serving decades in prison for sexual assault and possession of child pornography.
Nassar is accused of sexually abusing hundreds of female athletes under the guise of treatment at both USA Gymnastics and Michigan State.
USA Gymnastics did not comment on the move Friday beyond saying in a statement that its board accepted the resignation and wished Galimore “well in his future endeavors.”
Galimore released a statement Friday night, saying:
“I am proud to have served USA Gymnastics and its members for more than 24 years. I realize that changes are necessary as the gymnastics community moves forward in the wake of Larry Nassar’s horrific actions, which affected so many in our sport.
“I want to be clear that my resignation was not associated in any manner with the online discourse and media reports that have tried to link me to an effort to shield Nassar from scrutiny. I have spoken with investigators and been deposed concerning these matters, and am confident that I have always acted responsibly and with the best interests of athletes in mind.
“Gymnastics has been the center of my life since I was a kid. I resigned from my position with both a degree of sadness but also the hope that my departure may aid USA Gymnastics in pursuing its vision for a new beginning as it undergoes restructuring with a renewed sense of focus on creating a safe place for children to learn gymnastics.”
The Indianapolis Star reported in May that an attorney hired by USA Gymnastics directed Galimore to come up with a false excuse to explain Nassar’s absence at major gymnastic events in the summer of 2015. The organization was looking into complaints against Nassar at the time.
“We’ll let Ron know to advise people that you weren’t feeling well and decided to stay home,” Scott Himsel, an attorney hired by USA Gymnastics, wrote in an email obtained by the newspaper.
USA Gymnastics is accused of covering up assault allegations. The group didn’t tell Michigan State or elite gymnastics clubs about complaints against him in 2015. The organization said it did not disclose the complaints out of guidance from the FBI.
Nassar publicly stated in September 2015 that he was retiring from the Indianapolis-based group, but he continued to see young women and girls for many months at his Michigan State office and a gym near Lansing, Michigan.
While there has been significant turnover atop the organization in the last two years — USA Gymnastics is currently searching for its fourth president and chief executive officer since March, 2017 — Galimore remained on as its second-highest ranking officer. Though he kept a lower profile in recent months, he did hand out medals at an awards ceremony at the recently completed 2018 world gymnastics championships.
Galimore’s continued presence had been a point of contention with Nassar survivors and vocal critics who wondered how committed USA Gymnastics is to changing its culture if it allowed Galimore to remain on board.
New USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland told the gymnastics community “you deserve better,” in an open letter released earlier this month. Hirshland said the challenges facing USA Gymnastics are more than it is capable of overcoming as currently constructed.
The organization is weighing whether to give up its status as a national governing body on its own or if it will try to convince the USOC that it can fix its problems and create an environment that puts an emphasis on athlete safety, wellness and overall transparency.
Galimore, a standout gymnast who was on the 1980 U.S. Summer Olympic team that boycotted the Moscow Games, joined USA Gymnastics in 1994, initially working with the men’s program before moving into other areas within the organization.