Aths Aust CEO resigns

Wednesday April 7, 2010

Athletics Australia CEO to depart track and field on a high

Athletics Australia President Rob Fildes has today announced he has accepted the resignation of CEO Danny Corcoran from his role as the head of track and field in Australia following almost six years of service to the sport.

Corcoran, who joined Athletics Australia in 2004, guided the organisation to its most successful Commonwealth Games ever in Melbourne in 2006, Australia’s best Olympic Games since 1968 in Beijing (CHN) in 2008 and Australia’s most successful IAAF world championships campaign of all time in Berlin (GER) in 2009. This period of sustained success continued last month when Australia achieved its best result on record at the IAAF world indoor championships in Doha (QAT), claiming two gold and one bronze medal.

Under Corcoran’s leadership the Australian Flame has risen to No. 10 on the list of internationally-ranked athletics teams and will look to the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India, in October with hopes for 30 track and field medals.

Corcoran will take comfort in the fact he departs the sport at one of the highest points in its long history.

Corcoran, who will take on the role of General Manager Rugby Operations with the all-new Melbourne Rebels, said that while saddened to leave track and field he was excited to enter the next phase of his career.

“It is with mixed emotions that range from sadness to excitement that I announce my resignation from Athletics Australia after almost six years of service,” Corcoran said.

“I would like to thank all members of the athletics fraternity for their support and friendship over the past five and a half years and look forward to the national championships in Perth, where we will conduct our biggest national titles for many years and select the largest Australian team ever sent to an overseas international athletics competition.

“In particular, I would like to thank President Rob Fildes and the Board Directors for their support and guidance over my time as CEO. This support was invaluable as we took on the huge challenge of rebuilding the sport in Australia following the 2004 Australian Sports Commission (ASC) Review into Athletics. I would also like to thank the management team and the hardworking staff within Athletics Australia for their dedication and countless hours of service.

“I thank the ASC and its Executive for their support and encouragement over the years; we simply could not run the sport without the support of the Australian Government and the ASC.

“I will not depart the role immediately but will assist the Board and staff through a transition phase whilst a suitable replacement is found.”

Athletics Australia President Rob Fildes said Corcoran had made an outstanding contribution to Australian track and field.

“Danny has left the sport much better than he found it and his contribution has been most valuable to Australian athletics,” Fildes said.

“Athletics Australia has indeed improved its position in a far-ranging variety of disciplines that Danny has worked on. It has been a pleasure for me to work with Danny and I will miss his company and counsel.

“Danny departs the role of CEO at a time of financial stability and will leave the organisation in a position where it may readily take the next step forward. The process of finding a replacement will commence as soon as possible and we are positive about the potential to bring someone new into the role who can continue to grow the sport.

“On behalf of the Board of Athletics Australia, I’d like to congratulate Danny on a job well done. We wish him every success in his future endeavours.”

Steve Hooker, the inaugural captain of the Australian Flame and winner of Commonwealth, Olympic, world and world indoor crowns throughout Corcoran’s time at Athletics Australia, thanked the outgoing CEO for his commitment to the sport.

“Danny has been in charge of Athletics Australia over a very successful period in the sport. He’s shown a lot of support to the athletes and on behalf of the Australian team I’d like to wish him well for the future,” Hooker said.

Athletics Australia and the Australian track and field community would like to thank Mr. Danny Corcoran for his tireless dedication to the sport and wish him all the best with his new venture.


Under Corcoran’s reign:

18 contracted coaches laid off, none replaced.

No naming rights sponsor for the sport since the pre-existing contracts ran out at Beijing two years ago. Financial dependent almost entirely on federal government hand-outs.

Commercial income of only $55,000 declared by AA in last financial report - about a quarter of the CEO’s annual salary.

Leadership and funding support of Grassroots Development ceases

Indigenous project Jump Start created at urging of the federal govt and numerous previous reports into the state of the sport, including the (Herb) Elliott Report.

Number of meets on the Oz circuit collapses. Hobart, Adelaide and Perth grand prixs disappear, replaced by state-based smaller affairs or not replaced at all.

Day to day funding and support of elite and aspiring elite athletes substantially carried by state sports institutes.

AA claims credit for medal hauls at various international meets over the last six years - an insult to the athletes’ personal coaches.

Media and Marketing ineffective, poor penetration into the community. No effective contact between AA and major media.

Axing of David Culbert of Jump Media, not for financial reasons. Culbert did media and marketing for Stawell Gift - generating enough money to hire four Corcorans. Do the maths. That’s about $800,000 into Stawell coffers this Easter - sensational!

Finally! One dickhead down, 101 to go!

I love the way AA have the Australian Sports Commission listed as their “Principal Partner” on their website. It’s like the Paxton family referring to Center Link as a “Principal Partner”.

Is this the first rat to jump the sinking ship?

go to sport and check the “comment” section for more on this. Sorry i’ m on a bloody iPhone and struggling to edit on it. :slight_smile:

AA’s plaudits hide full story

Mike Hurst From: The Daily Telegraph April 08, 2010 12:00AM
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ATHLETICS Australia’s popular CEO Danny Corcoran resigned yesterday after six years in the job during which the sport has celebrated many of its finest international achievements.

In announcing Corcoran’s decision to step down, an AA statement lauded him for "guiding the organisation to its most successful Commonwealth Games ever in Melbourne in 2006, Australia’s best Olympic Games since 1968 in Beijing in 2008 and Australia’s most successful IAAF world championship campaign of all time in Berlin in 2009. This period of sustained success continued last month when Australia achieved its best result on record at the IAAF world indoor championships in Doha, claiming two gold and one bronze medal.’’

These are the facts and they are true.

But they conceal a wider truth which is that under the current administration led by Corcoran there is great discontent at the state association level and frustration at the state institute level, not to mention among the many personal coaches.

Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar.

Related Coverage
Rebels recruit admin star Corcoran Herald Sun, 16 hours ago
Corcoran joins Rebels Herald Sun, 1 day ago
Miserly AOC chokes its grassroots of cash The Australian, 20 Nov 2009
The fastest woman in Australia Daily Telegraph, 12 Nov 2008
We’ve done our dash The Australian, 31 Oct 2008
End of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar.

While Corcoran and AA president Rob Fildes arrested the financial slide of their predecessors, they have also failed to attract any significant new commercial income to the sport which has been without a naming rights sponsor for the last two years.

In AA’s most recent financial report for 2008-9, they declared $55,000 in sponsorship money for the 12 month period - not a quarter of the CEO’s salary.

Corcoran oversaw the decision not to renew – read, sack - the contracts of 18 coaches around the nation, some of the most productive of whom moved overseas to work against Australia. And the number of meets on the domestic circuit also diminished.

The creative publicist, David Culbert, an Olympic and world championship long jump finalist, was also dumped by AA.

"Cost had nothing to do with that cut. It was because Culbert’s personality was too strong by comparison,’’ one insider explained to The Daily Telegraph.

Frustration and bewilderment has coloured comments from athletes and coaches about the direction AA has taken, but Corcoran and his staff, even the ineffective previous high performance manager Max Binnington, are such lovely people that outright rebellion was never contemplated.

However, for AA to claim credit for the success of Australia’s high performance athletes such as pole vaulter Steve Hooker, long jumper Fabrice Lapierre or discus thrower Dani Samuels is an insult to their long suffering personal coaches.

With the exception of the indigenous Jump Start program, AA has withdrawn almost completely from providing effective leadership and resources at the grassroots development level of the sport.

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Have your say

I honestly can’t see how the CEO can be held personally responsible when they are paid to implement what the board tell them to. I can remember a CEO of an athletics organization once telling me it would not be in the best interest of athletics to take sponsorship away from local clubs, a week later you’d never guess what the board did.

David Culbert gets a fair rap in your post, isn’t he still employed by AA as their media, now a contractor, surely now has more control over what he says and does, wasn’t he was also the media for the Stawell gift this year, over the years there would have been a lot of stuff ups at major events, this year the Stawell bad bits made the media. I can remember a young Jana Pittman was looking for a qualifier for her first World Champs, Glendale and I was the yellow tech shirt, one of my helpers tried to put out hurdles on the track for the 400m hurdles and was stopped by an unknown person, Jana’s time was disallowed because 1 flight of hurdles was not there, didn’t make the media, what did was Jai Taurima going to the Newcastle Workers Club, having a drink and cigarette while playing the pokies.

I see the same coaches in the same positions, doing the same things they did 25 years ago when I first join athletics. I hear of athletes still being persuaded to go to these same coaches, their current coaches do not go overseas they simply give up coaching, I know how they feel, nothing much has changed. I hear of clubs being given thousands of dollars of equipment they either did not want or did not meet competition rules, wasted sponsorship money.

I guess I can do nothing except keep on trying to put the best equipment available into the hands of developing athletes and their coaches, Dani Samuels was among the group as is Taylah Sengul who is breaking Dani’s records, bet she will change coaches in the near future and Julian Wruck who holds the Aust U20 discus record, currently in a uni in the US and throwing over 60m, hopefully he has a good comp in Perth next week.

Ok I had my whinge time to get back to trying to survive in a sport that has too many self interest groups. Hugs and kisses to all.


Minor deception haunts CEO who deceived himself
April 8, 2010

Martin Soust leaves the Federal Court court yesterday. Photo: Vince Caligiuri

IT STARTED from a small point of deception and spiralled out of control. For a lousy $2550, a sum that must have seemed like loose change, Martin Soust bought himself some shares in his listed biotech company, a $24,500 short-term performance bonus - and a devastating long-term loss.

That one tiny outlay on the last day of 2007, by a Melbourne-based chief executive keen to nudge the share price a fraction of a cent to secure his annual bonus, morphed into an expensive saga of lies, deceit and dishonesty.

It has ended with Mr Soust facing years of banishment from corporate life, a hefty financial penalty, the loss of his scientific career and reputation, and the dread that he might yet be prosecuted for criminal offences.

Yesterday the former chief executive of Select Vaccines sat in the front row of the Federal Court, taking copious notes and occasionally sinking his head into his hands, as Justice Alan Goldberg heard how Mr Soust is now ostracised from the biotech industry that fostered him.

The court - sitting for the penalty hearing in the last stage of a civil penalty case against Mr Soust - heard that he returned on Tuesday from job-hunting in London.

Yet Associate Professor David Anderson of the Macfarlane Burnet Centre for Medical Research, who is also the chief scientific officer for Select Vaccines, told the court his former colleague’s prospects of being re-employed, at least in Australia’s biotech industry, were virtually non-existent.

His disgrace is obvious. His remorse and contrition is not, and that was a crucial factor that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission relied on yesterday when it asked Justice Goldberg to bar the businessman from being a director or manager of a company for eight years.

ASIC also wants the court to impose a penalty of $100,000.

Mr Soust’s lawyers argued the strike-out should be something like 2½ years, considering he has been unemployed - ‘‘effectively disqualified’’, they argued - since Select Vaccines dumped him in late August 2008.

They disputed ASIC’s contention that there had been no show of contrition. Certainly there was no ‘‘vacuous’’ or ‘‘self-serving’’ apology, but that was because Mr Soust was constrained in saying anything, his counsel Haydn Carmichael told the court.

Mr Carmichael also insisted that a form of contrition was apparent in the fact that the short-term performance bonus of $24,500 had been repaid.

Yet emails provided to the court by Mr Soust’s lawyer, Stephen Howard of Oakley Thompson, showed the $24,500 was only repaid to Select Vaccines’ bank account three days ago and the sum did not come from Mr Soust but a third party, a ‘‘sponsor’’. Nor did it amount to an acknowledgement of liability, Mr Howard told the company via email.

Mr Carmichael told the court that ‘‘the most that I am instructed to do, and the most that I am able to put on evidence that goes to the question [of contrition and remorse] is that the payment means something’’.

Asked what it meant, Mr Carmichael suggested: ‘‘It means the disgorgement of an ill-gotten gain.’’ The judge replied: ‘‘It has come very, very late.’’

Mr Soust bought shares in Select Vaccines on the last day of December 2007 to widen the gap between the company’s absolute share price performance that year and an index of shares in other listed biotech companies.

Despite repeated queries by fellow directors about the transaction and investigations by the corporate regulator during 2008 and 2009 - which included a formal interview by ASIC - Mr Soust claimed the shares were bought by his mother, Bohumira Soust.

But after Mr Soust was sacked in August 2008, Select Vaccines’ chairman, Robin Beaumont, found a document on the CEO’s laptop, first drafted in June 2008, which amounted to a mock run-through of potential questions and answers about the share purchase - with all the answers designed, apparently, to be uttered by Bohumira Soust.

Justice Goldberg, in a decision published in February, found the ‘‘Q&A’’ document was a memo or ‘‘script for [Mr Soust’s] mother to use when she was questioned by ASIC officers’’.

The judge said Mr Soust ‘‘deliberately and consciously lied’’ to fellow directors ‘‘and embarked on a deliberate course of conduct to conceal what he did’’.

‘‘The severity of his conduct and the egregious nature of his conduct was exacerbated by the preparation of the Q&A document around 26 June 2008.’’

The court also previously heard that Select Vaccines directors, apparently for privacy and legal privilege reasons, decided not to volunteer the Q&A document to ASIC unless asked. As a result, ASIC investigators did not obtain the document until a year later.

Yesterday Justice Goldberg told counsel that ‘‘what troubles me about this case is that the initial conduct [by Mr Soust] was exacerbated step by step’’.

Christopher Caleo, SC, for ASIC, replied: ‘‘It is that continuing course of dishonest conduct that marks this case in particular.’’

Mr Soust may yet be sued by Dexta, the insurance company that provided Select Vaccines’ directors’ and officers’ insurance policies. It picked up the tab for his substantial legal fees, but ceased payments in October 2009.

The judge reserved his decision on penalties.

Dear JD,

David Culbert was dumped by AA a year ago.

He handles marketing and media for Stawell Gift and a couple of bicycling races etc.

Aty Stawell this year, over one weekend, his work basically generated $800,000 for Stawell etc and the medai was out of all proportion to the calibre of athletes at the meet. Live television, coverage every day in virtually every newspaper for a week or two prior, build mainly around pole vaulter Steve Hooker’s participation.

By comparison the Sydney and Melbourne Track Classic got very little space because the editors decided the stories their reporters submitted were basically boring. Culbert might have helped that, in fact he did by making his main athlete client, Mr Hooker, available for a half day for media prior to both Sydney and Melbourne.

Culbert does no piece meal work for AA. They are too dumb to realse they need him. He could do the media and marketing rolled into one job and AA would make a fortune.

I’ve heard Hooker plans to go for the world record in Perth. But the only media activity planned by AA for Hooker in Perth is on Thursday morning. None of the major media from interstate will be there until Thursday night at the earliest.

What a larf it all is …kk