Favoritism for Stanford Alums on U.S. Olympic Committee Board?

Philip Hersh, a blogger for the LA Times, recently blogged about his suspicions that nepotism and self-interests are playing roles in the selection of a replacement member of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) board of directors. Stephanie Streeter left the seat open this past March when she became the USOC’s acting chief executive.

In his post, Hersh asserts that the most likely candidate to fill the role is Robert Bach. Who’s Robert Bach? He is President of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division.  (He’s the Xbox guy.)

USOC and Xbox? If this doesn’t sound like an Old-Boy Network yet, just wait. Regarding Bach’s background, Hersh hits us hard with the following:

Like Streeter and other board members, he has ties to Stanford University. Streeter and board member Jair Lynch received undergraduate degrees from Stanford; board member Bob Bowlsby is the Stanford director of athletics; and Bach got his MBA from Stanford.

Hold on! Two undegrads, a business school grad, and the athletics director?  That’s it?  I’m still not convinced, but I am kind of confused by all the names.

How about this? Hersh emailed USOC’s chairman Larry Probst (also the retired Chief Executive of Electronic Arts, a video game development company) to ask whether he had a “professional relationship” with Bach. Probst replied “obliquely” with

Part of his [Bach’s] responsibility is the Xbox business and Electronic Arts develops software products for the Xbox platform.

Anyone with fingers and an Internet connection could have figured that out. I did.

Still, Hersh does have reason to question the connection between Bach and Probst.  It is true that some professional relationships go beyond the limits of business acquaintance, but I don’t really don’t know that this really is a wider case of nepotism.

Hersh’s Stanford-centered argument currently remains weak at best. Maybe the nepotism is there, but the connections he provided just make him sound like a conspiracy theorist.

He makes other claims regarding the motivations behinds Bachs potential appointment, including Streeter wanting to protect her position as USOC’s chief executive by appointing a friendly member.  However,  Streeter’s announcement that she won’t seek the seat unseats that argument.

Overall, his post just comes across as a jumbled mess of tangled theories that don’t seem worth the frustration.

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