The U.S. Olympic Committee has tapped a veteran Los Angeles banker and a top officer with Stanford University to head a new foundation to support athletes.
Gordon Crawford, a former fund manager for the Capital Group Cos., is to become the chairman of the newly created U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Foundation, while Jon Denney, a top fundraising executive with Stanford University, will become its president, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the foundation and the USOC's development efforts.
Scott Blackmun, chief executive of the USOC, said the foundation is seeking to raise $50 million annually from high-net-worth individuals to supplement revenues the organization collects from television rights and sponsorships.
The USOC raised about $17 million last year. But just $10 million came in major gifts, which still is about five-times as much as its major gifts program brought in as recently as 2009.
As more countries have emphasized winning medals, training Olympians has become a financial arms race.
But unlike most national Olympic organizations, the USOC doesn't receive direct government support.
"Our goal is to support every member of a national team, which is about 2,500 athletes," Mr. Blackmun said.
The USOC has cultivated 52 trustees who have committed $300,000 each over the next four years.
Mr. Crawford, who has an extensive collection of Olympic memorabilia, including a collection of Olympic torches from every Games and sets of medals going back to 1896, said the foundation will hand all of its money over to the USOC. Donors won't have a say in how the money is spent, though they likely would be able to attend the Games potentially as guests of the USOC.
"This is going to be an educational process in teaching people that if we want to be competitive and give our young people a chance then we're going to have to support that privately," Mr. Crawford said.
The USOC reported revenues of $338 million and expenses of $247 million for 2012. It now spends about $60 million annually directly subsidizing some 1,500 winter and summer athletes. The organization consistently produces the world's largest Olympic teams, in addition to running training centers and employing doctors, trainers and coaches.
A former All-American swimmer for Stanford, Mr. Denney participated in the Olympic swimming trials and has deep ties to the wealthy Silicon Valley region, which has proved fertile ground for USOC fundraising.
One potential concern is whether the USOC fundraising efforts will cannibalize the fundraising that the national sports federations already do.
Mr. Crawford insisted the USOC will be able to find new donors.
"If someone has a natural affinity to certain national governing body and sport we're going to encourage them to give to that sport directly," Mr. Crawford said. "The idea is to make the pie bigger. We're going to find new donors. It's untapped," he said.