First published in GoDucks.com on January 5, 2021.
Oregon director of athletics Rob Mullens has been appointed to a Congressional commission tasked with assessing the state of U.S. participation in the Olympic and Paralympic games.
Congress has charged a commission with submitting a report with findings, conclusions, recommendations and suggested policy changes for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, under the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic and Amateur Athletes Act of 2020. U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, who represented central and eastern Oregon for 22 years before retiring at the end of the most recent Congress, appointed Mullens and three others to the newly formed Commission on the State of U.S. Olympics and Paralympics.
Walden (R-OR) was ranking member of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee in the 116th Congress. Leadership from the House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over amateur athletics were charged with making appointments to the new commission.
Under the leadership of Mullens, Oregon's pursuit of broad-based excellence has resulted in two top-10 finishes in the Directors' Cup ranking of collegiate athletic departments. Along with successes including the football team's appearance in the College Football Playoff and men's basketball's trip to the 2017 Final Four, the women's track and field program won the "Triple Crown" of national championships in 2016-17, and the women's basketball program has become a national powerhouse.
While leading UO athletics to unprecedented heights during the past decade, Mullens has been consulted for leadership across the landscape of amateur athletics in recent years. He serves on an advisory council to the USOPC and spent four years on the College Football Playoff selection committee, including two years as chair.
The new Congressional commission is a 16-member body that will take a holistic look at the structure and achievements of the USOPC, including as it relates to the diversity of its board of directors, and participation levels in amateur athletics by women, disabled individuals and minorities. It also will provide an assessment of the USOPC's finances, and review recent reforms including recommendations made in 2018 in the wake of findings of sexual abuse within the USOPC.
Along with Mullens, Walden nominated Mitch Daniels, the former governor of Indiana and current president of Purdue University; Melissa Stockwell, a U.S. Army veteran who lost her left leg while deployed in Iraq and now competes as a Paralympian; and former Defense Department official Joe Schmitz, who wrestled for the U.S. Naval Academy.
"As we continue our work to ensure athletes have a safe, welcoming environment – and undertake serious reforms at the highest level of sport – I am pleased to announce my appointments to the Commission on the State of U.S. Olympics and Paralympics," Walden said. "After reviewing and considering numerous recommendations for many qualified candidates, I am confident these four individuals will provide valuable insight and expertise to ensure the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee lives up to the high standards expected of it.
"The United States should always lead the world by example, and athletics is no exception. I thank Governor Daniels, Ms. Stockwell, Mr. Mullens, and Mr. Schmitz for agreeing to serve."