June 27, 2014 by Charlie Eisenhood in Livewire with 14 comments
USA Ultimate CEO Tom Crawford has, by most any measure, had a very successful tenure as the leader of the sport’s governing body.
But with the announcement this week that USA Ultimate has been officially recognized by the US Olympic Committee, could this be the high water mark of his time at USAU?
Crawford was hired in Summer 2009 to replace Sandie Hammerly as Executive Director (upon the hiring, the position title was changed to Chief Executive Officer). In August, Crawford will have been at USAU for five years, the second longest tenure ever atop the organization behind only Hammerly who led for six.
Crawford has overseen tremendous growth for USA Ultimate, both in membership and revenue. In 2008, USAU’s expense budget was $1.3 million. In 2012, the most recent tax year available for review, it was $2.4 million.
Under Crawford’s watch, USAU has overhauled the college season, added Division III competition and Championships, restructured the Club season, vastly expanded the use of the observer system, rebranded as USA Ultimate, landed a deal with ESPN, and been officially recognized by the US Olympic Committee.
That last point is key. Crawford was brought in as an expert in the Olympic movement. He worked for nearly ten years as the Director of Coaching for the USOC and his connections at the organization surely helped USAU become formally recognized.
Given the trajectory of the sport at the international level, it is fairly clear that Crawford was brought in to help USA Ultimate get USOC recognition. Has he completed his mission at USAU?
With a new strategic plan firmly in place, it does seem like a natural point for USAU to consider a new executive. Certainly, the success Crawford has had both objectively and in the eyes of the Board of Directors could mean that he still has years left in his tenure. But a transition in the coming year wouldn’t come as a major surprise.