USA Gymnastics President Quits Over ‘Tone-Deaf’ Tweet

Andy Berg Headshot

Less than a week after assuming the position of interim president of USA Gymnastics, Mary Bono has resigned. Her resignation comes in the wake of comments she made on Twitter back in September that appeared to reference embattled NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his recent ad campaign for Nike. 

“Playing in charity golf tournament raising money for our nation’s Special Forces operators and their families,” Bono tweeted according to CNN. “Unfortunately, had these shoes in my bag. Luckily I had a marker in my bag too…” The tweet is accompanied by a photo of someone blacking out the trademark Nike swoosh on the side of a pair of what appear to be golf cleats. 

Nike is a sponsor of decorated gymnast Simone Biles who took issue with the tweet. "don't worry, it's not like we needed a smarter usa gymnastics president or any sponsors or anything," Biles tweeted. Others called Bono’s tweet tone deaf, saying it is the kind of suppression of athletes' voices experienced by Kaepernick that led to the ongoing abuse of hundreds of gymnasts by team doctor Larry Nassar.

Bono has since deleted the post and in a statement prior to announcing her resignation said she regreted having made the remarks.

"I deeply regret posting the tweet because I respect everyone's views and their fundamental right to express them," Bono said in a statement. "This in no way reflects how I will approach my position at USA Gymnastics. I will do everything I can to help change the culture and to work with the entire community to build an open, safe and positive environment."

On Tuesday, just four days after assuming the position of interim president, Bono announced her resignation. "It is with profound regret, coupled with a deep love for the sport of gymnastics and respect for those who aspire to be great gymnasts, that I today tendered my resignation as the interim CEO of USA Gymnastics," she said in a statement.

Bono also came under fire from Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman who took issue with Bono’s appointment because she used to work for law firm Faegre Baker Daniels, which helped USAG craft false statements about Nassar.

"My teammates & I reported Nassar's abuse to USAG in 2015. We now know USOC & lawyers at Faegre Baker Daniels (Mary Bono's firm) were also told then, yet Nassar continued to abuse children for 13 months!? Why hire someone associated with the firm that helped cover up our abuse?" Raisman posted.

USAG has since noted that Bono was not involved in working with or for Nassar during her time at the firm. Nevertheless, attorney John Manly, who represented Nassar survivors, echoed Raisman’s comments. 

"Selecting her as interim president was an insult to every survivor and shows a complete disregard for the safety of child athletes," Manly said in a statement. "USA Gymnastics should be decertified immediately as the governing body for gymnastics in the US. It should be replaced by a body with credible/competent leadership that includes survivors. USAG is a disgrace to our current athletes, to the survivors and our nation.”

Bono’s resignation comes after former president and CEO Kerry Perry quit amid allegations that she protected Nassar and failed to protect gymnasts from him.

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