USA Gymnastics has a new president and CEO, almost eight months after the previous leader was forced out over the governing body’s handling of a widespread sex abuse scandal.
Kerry J. Perry, formerly the vice president of business development at Learfield Communications, takes over the job Dec. 1. She replaces Steve Penny, who had led USA Gymnastics from 2005 until his departure March 16.
“I look forward to creating a culture of empowerment that encourages our athletes, our members, our families and our staff to have a strong voice as we move this incredible organization to heightened levels of achievement,” Perry said in a statement.
Perry takes over a federation that is one of the strongest in the U.S. Olympic movement. American gymnasts have won 105 medals at the Olympics and world championships since 2005, and the women are the world’s most dominant team.
The U.S. women have won the last two team titles at the Olympics, as well as the last four all-around golds. An American woman has won the all-around title at every world championships since 2011, a streak that Morgan Hurd extended last month.
But USA Gymnastics has faced harsh criticism for its handling of sexual abuse allegations. According to the Lansing State Journal, part of the USA TODAY NETWORK, more than 140 women have alleged sexual abuse by Larry Nassar, the national team physician from 1996 to 2015.
Nassar’s alleged victims include McKayla Maroney, part of the Fierce Five team that won gold at the 2012 Olympics. Maroney said last month that Nassar abused her under the guise of medical treatment beginning when she was 13 and continuing until she left the sport.
USA Gymnastics fired Nassar after receiving a complaint in the summer 2015, but waited five weeks before alerting the FBI.
The Indianapolis Star, also part of the USA TODAY NETWORK, has reported more than 360 cases in which gymnasts have accused coaches of sexual transgressions over 20 years.
The abuse scandal prompted a far-reaching review of the federation’s practices by former federal prosecutor Deborah Daniels. In her report, Daniels said USA Gymnastics needed a “complete cultural change” so the safety and well-being of athletes is the priority rather than world and Olympic medals.
By Nancy Armour
This article was republished with permission from the original author and 2015 Ronald Reagan Media Award recipient, Nancy Armour, and the original publisher, USA Today. Follow columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.