USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny has resigned amid fallout from the federation's handling of a string of sex-abuse cases.
The pressure to enforce institutional changes comes after the startling news that USA Gymnastics informed the Federal Bureau of Investigation of sexual abuse allegations against Dr. Larry Nassar, a longtime national team physician, five weeks after top gymnastics officials were first alerted to suspicions about him.
The group that filed Thursday includes a former Michigan State competitive cheerleader, a former ballerina, former youth gymnasts, former college athletes and women who say in court documents that they were teenage girls or sometimes younger when Nassar sexually assaulted them during multiple medical appointments on Michigan State's campus or at Twistars gymnastics club in Dimondale.
Martha Karolyi retired in August and sold the training gyms at the Karolyi Ranch north of Houston to USA Gymnastics. "The Board believes this change in leadership will help USA Gymnastics face its current challenges and implement solutions to move the organization forward in promoting a safe environment for its athletes at all levels".
There are now multiple lawsuits related to Nassar and USA Gymnastics.
Twenty more women have joined the federal lawsuit accusing former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University Dr. Larry Nassar of sexual abuse. While the USOC does not have official authority to remove heads of national governing bodies, it can apply pressure by threatening to withhold funding. Team USA has produced the last four all-around female gymnastic champions, and won team golds at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.
A former broadcasting executive with TBS, Penny worked for USA Cycling before joining USA Gymnastics in 1999 as a senior vice president in charge of sponsorships and marketing. The USOC gives USA Gymnastics a cash grant of almost $2 million annually.
"We have accepted Steve's resignation and want to thank him for his contributions and dedication to USA Gymnastics over the years", said Parilla, an Orange County attorney, in a statement.
On March 9, the USOC board met and reached what chairman Larry Probst called a "consensus point of view" though he and CEO Scott Blackmun declined to share it publicly until USA Gymnastics responded.
"The tacit culture of acceptance of child sex abuse was fostered not just by Mr Penny, but numerous long-term members of the board". My primary objectives over the last 12 years as CEO have been to raise the bar on how USA Gymnastics serves its athletes; to build relationships that provide resources to help the organization and its membership flourish; and to build a team effort that brought the sport together around common goals. Penny, but numerous long-term members of the board.
The Indianapolis Star newspaper claims "at least" 368 American gymnasts have made allegations of sexual abuse. The letter pointed to misconduct by coaches as proof that USA Gymnastics "maternally inhibits these women's ability to participate in their sport".