The USA Gymnastics interim chief Mary Bono has stepped down following blowback to a month-old tweet in which she appeared to color in the Nike logo, a response to the sports brand’s Colin Kaepernick ad campaign. Bono held the job as USA Gymnastics chief executive for five days before stepping down.
Bono, a former Republican congresswoman in California, took over for the organization’s previous CEO, Kerry Perry, after a massive leadership shakeup at the beginning of 2018. In September, Perry resigned under pressure after a nine-month tenure, during which critics alleged she did little to help the organization recover from the Larry Nassar scandal. Nassar, a longtime USA Gymnastics coach, was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing hundreds of his students.
“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” Bono wrote in a statement. “My withdrawal comes in the wake of personal attacks that, left undefended, would have made my leading USAG a liability for the organization.” Bono’s resignation was first reported by CNN.
Over the weekend, four-time Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, who is sponsored by Nike and who also alleged that she was abused by Nassar, slammed Bono for her anti-Nike Tweet with a reply of her own on the social media platform.
*mouth drop*— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) October 13, 2018
don’t worry, it’s not like we needed a smarter usa gymnastics president or any sponsors or anything https://t.co/cYQizcjywn
Bono expressed regret on Sunday, and also vowed that her post did not reflect how she would approach her work with the organization. But the damage had clearly been done.