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Pat Sandusky named Olympics communications chief

From the Monday, Feb. 8, edition of the Kankakee Daily Journal

Pat Sandusky named Olympics communications chief

By DAVE WISCHNOWSKY
Special to the Daily Journal

Feb. 8, 2010

Late last month, while sitting in his office on the campus of the United States Olympic Committee’s headquarters in Colorado Springs, Pat Sandusky kidded about his job title since mid-October as the organization’s acting Chief Communications Officer.

“Until you can do the job,” the 35-year-old Bourbonnais native said with a chuckle, “you just act like it.”

As first reported Jan. 30 in the Daily Journal and officially announced last week, Sandusky proved to the USOC during the past four months that his “acting” chops were more than up to snuff.

On Feb. 3, he was formally named as the full-time CCO of the coordinating body for all Olympic-related athletic activity in the United States.

A 1993 graduate of Bishop McNamara High School, Sandusky becomes only the third person since 1979 to serve as the organization’s head of communications and just the fourth since the job’s inception.

“It’s incredibly humbling,” Sandusky said last Friday while in a cab en route to O’Hare International Airport where he caught a flight to Canada for 2010 Winter Games, which begin this Friday in Vancouver.

“This job is not something that I looked at lightly,” Sandusky continued. “It certainly has some gravity to it, and I’m very excited about it.”

The former head spokesman and Vice President of Communications for Chicago’s 2016 Olympics bid, Sandusky will report directly to new USOC CEO Scott Blackmun.

Prior to Chicago 2016, Sandusky spent 10 years at the global public relations firm Hill & Knowlton, where he was Vice President of the firm’s sports marketing practice and managed large-scale, multi-national communications programs for both the Chicago and London offices.

In addition to his work with the Olympics, Sandusky – who played football at Northern Illinois University – has worked on projects related to Wimbledon, World Cup, Rugby World Cup, English Premiership, NASCAR and NCAA football.

Sandusky did not disclose the salary for his new position. According to tax filings released annually by the nonprofit USOC, Sandusky’s predecessor as CCO, Darryl Seibel, earned $367,779 in 2008. At the time of his resignation in May after serving 6½ years as CCO, Seibel was the USOC’s third-highest paid employee.

Unlike nearly all the 205 national Olympic committees that carry membership in the International Olympic Committee, the USOC receives no government funding. Rather, it makes most of its income from a lucrative deal with NBC, which is broadcasting the Vancouver Games, and contracts with 18 corporate partners, who use the committee’s iconic five-ring logo.

Sandusky, who has split his time between Colorado and Chicago since taking over as the USOC’s acting CCO, said he and his wife have begun looking at homes in Colorado Springs. They plan to relocate with their infant twins by the end of the summer, he said.

“We are extremely happy that Patrick has joined the USOC family for the long-term and that a leader of Patrick’s caliber is moving to Colorado Springs,” Scott Blackmun said last week in statement. “Having him on our team since last October has had a positive impact for the USOC, and I believe that both the Colorado Springs community and the Olympic Movement in the U.S. will benefit by Patrick and his family moving to Colorado Springs.”

Sandusky said the change in his job title won’t change his role with the USOC a great deal, but “I think it will have a little more permanency. The title of ‘acting’ carries a certain level of temporariness. But now, longer-term thinking will be applied.”

In Vancouver this month, Sandusky will manage daily press conferences for American athletes during the Winter Games and serve as the head spokesman for any news involving the U.S. delegation.

As for his rise to the top ranks of Olympic leadership in the U.S., Sandusky credited his upbringing in Kankakee County for providing the launching pad he needed.

“Kankakee is such a sports-mad area, and that rubbed off on me at a very early age,” he said. “From [Bradley-Bourbonnais] Little League baseball to high school football at Mac, it was just a sports-crazy town to grow up in.

“There are a lot of great people involved in sports. And I can tell you, I wouldn’t be here today [with the USOC] without the leadership of the community.”