Kerry Perry hasn’t sat down for any media interviews since coming on as president and CEO of USA Gymnastics six months ago, which means no one knows much about her approach to running the embattled national governing body. In fact, the only times that the public has even heard her voice has been in a series of stiff videos produced for USA Gymnastics and some similarly stiff testimony in front of Congress. Other than that, the only communication between Perry and the public has been through press releases posted on the USA Gymnastics website.
Despite that public radio silence, though, it appears that Perry has been meeting with some of USA Gymnastics’ professional membership since taking the reins at USAG. Perry spoke at Region 4's Congress—for gymnastics administrative purposes, the country is divided into eight regions for the women and nine for the men—which was held in St. Louis from June 15 to 17. A recording of her remarks was sent to the GymCastic podcast, which posted it in full at the end of their most recent episode. (Disclosure: Back in 2012–13, I cohosted some episodes and I’ve subsequently appeared on the podcast as a guest.)
After making some remarks that leaned with notable heaviness on the word “empowered,” Perry opened the floor to questions from the membership.
One of those questions centered around the organization’s financial viability given all of the many lawsuits that the organization faces as a result of Larry Nassar’s two decades of abuse. Perry tapped Chris Tebo, one of the nonprofit’s attorneys, to answer that particular question. Tebo replied, perhaps not as reassuringly as thought, that USA Gymnastics has really good insurance. “I can say that our insurance policies have several different layers of coverage,” he explained, “all of which should meet settlements...The reality of it is we have very good, very strong insurance policies.”
As for the news reports of USA Gymnastics suing their seven insurers for nonpayment, Tebo explained that this action was par for the course. “I can tell you with my years of experience as an insurance lawyer, that is not an unusual occurrence,” he said. “It’s called dec action, declaratory action and it’s basically when the insured goes to the court and says the insurance company is not paying what the insurance company should be paying on the claim.” Tebo explained that some insurance companies have only paid part of their obligation and others have paid the entirety. “We have almost 20 years of insurance coverage that is being affected by all of these claims,” he said. (The allegations against Nassar go back more than two decades.) In a nutshell, then: “Mo’ lawsuits, no problems.”
Perry addressed the issues presented by numerous sponsors’ deserting the organization—since the Nassar story broke, P&G, Under Armour, Hershey’s, and others have ended their sponsorship deals with USA Gymnastics. She acknowledged that, although they’ve lost some sponsors since the 2016 Olympics, others are waiting on the sidelines. “I met with all of them,” she said, “and at a very high level, a very senior level. And what they said to us, unequivocally, is ‘we believe in your vision, we believe in where you’re going, we have no doubt, Kerry, you’ll be the standard-bearer, this organization will be the standard bearer of change that everybody else in the world looks at says wow, they got it right. And we want to be part of that.’”
“I want you to know that our corporate partners stand by ready to embrace and move in a path with us that is very, very different than what I would consider traditional sponsorship,” Perry added. Perry also discussed their plans to build a new national team training center that would include medical and wellness facilities as well as space for meetings. She described it as a “Taj Mahal,” although she didn’t specify whether she was referring to the U.N. World Heritage Site in India or Trump’s doomed casino in Atlantic City.
And that’s about the size of it: USA Gymnastics, after two years of nearly nonstop scandal and a myriad of lawsuits related, is going to be just fine.