USA Gymnastics interim president Mary Bono resigned from her position on Tuesday, citing personal attacks that would make her a "liability" to the organization as her reason for leaving.
In September, Bono tweeted in response to the news that Colin Kaepernick would be the face of Nike’s ad campaign. In the now-deleted tweet, Bono posted a photo coloring in the Nike logo on her golf shoes: "Playing in a charity golf tournament raising money for our nation’s Special Forces operators and their families. Unfortunately I had these shoes in my bag. Luckily I had a marker in my bag too…"
This tweet caught the attention of Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, who responded, "don’t worry, it’s not like we needed a smarter usa gymnastics president or any sponsors or anything." Aly Raisman also sent out a string of tweets expressing her outrage at the organization’s "devastating" decision. "Clearly this is not a 'new' USAG. Same corrupt decisions," she wrote. "Perhaps it’s because true accountability is less likely if authority is placed in the hands of someone similarly motivated to avoid it…"
Bono, who was a gymnast for 10 years, took to Twitter yesterday to explain her decision to leave. "My regret is that I would’ve brought to the organization, the angst and anger of my own story: a young aspiring gymnast who witnessed first-hand the assaulting behavior of a coach; watched peers who acquiesced in it move ahead while those who didn’t were left behind, and myself stayed silent — perhaps the norm then, but very troubling to me to this day," she said. "I would have brought a fire in the belly to ensure that no one as taken with gymnastics as I was at that age, should have to choose between abuse and ambition, or between properly speaking out and promoting personal success."
Bono also addressed the tweet about Nike in her statement, saying that she was simply exercising her First Amendment right just like Kaepernick was. "It was an emotional reaction to the sponsor’s use of that phrase that caused me to tweet, and I regret that at the time I didn’t better clarify my feelings," she wrote.
In a statement on USA Gymnastics’ website announcing Bono’s resignation, the organization said that they are "committed to taking action when we believe a change of course is necessary and to being responsive to our gymnastics community." Given how many leadership changes the organization has experienced since Nassar was finally sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison in January, it's tough to say whether they'll be able to right the ship.
As Raisman put it on Twitter: "The stakes are high in our sport right now, & it’s essential new leadership be disconnected from the influences that allowed these terrible things to happen."