USATF CEO’s $3.8 million salary for 2021 sparks outrage
Max Siegel's pay represented 11 per cent of the organization's total $33.6 million revenue in 2021Photo by: Kevin Morris
Team USA athletes and track fans are outraged after it was reported that USA Track & Field (USATF) CEO Max Siegel earned a whopping $3.8 million last year, according to his tax form posted on the USATF website.
Siegel’s pay represented 11 per cent of the organization’s total $33.6 million dollar revenue in 2021. His base pay is $685,000, and he received a bonus of $500,000, plus “other reportable compensation” of $2,574,598.
The organization’s second-in-command, COO Renee Washington, took home more than $1.6 million last year, which is four per cent of the total revenue (15 per cent between the two individuals).
U.S. decathlete Harrison Williams, who was a part of Team USA at the 2019 World Athletics Championships, commented on the issue, saying, “In a sport where the best athletes in the country only receive a $12,000 stipend from USATF (and have to be top 15 in the world to get it), it’s absolutely absurd that our CEO Max Siegel just made $3,819,264 in one year.”
“Imaging giving $10,000 of his pay to 10 athletes, and change their lives and training opportunities…but that would not allow him to fly private…once or twice,” tweeted 2016 800m Olympic bronze medallist Clayton Murphy.
2:09 U.S. marathoner Noah Droddy tweeted: “Honestly hoping he gets a raise so we can freak out more and come even closer together next year.”
The CEO of USATF made 3.8 million in 2021.. meanwhile I had to retire because OF FINANCIAL STABILITY.. I also was working 3 jobs while training.. AFTER MAKING AN OLYMPIC TEAM!
— Chelsea Hayes, OLY (@DatGirlChels_27) November 29, 2022
Staff salaries at the nonprofit grew by $2 million from 2020 to 2021. In 2020, USATF salaries were $7.4 million. In 2021, they were $9.6 million for the organization’s 82 employees, an increase of nearly 30 per cent.
To put Siegel’s salary in perspective, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman earned 9.6 million in 2021, which is 0.002 per cent of the league’s total five-billion-dollar revenue. If he earned the same percentage as Siegel, his annual salary would be $550 million.
Siegel’s salary is double that of USATF’s top athlete, world record holder plus world and Olympic champion Sydney McLaughlin, who reportedly signed a 1.5 million dollar base deal with New Balance in 2019.
Surprisingly, Siegel’s 2021 salary is a small pay cut from his 2018 tax return, which worked out to $4.3 million. In 2020, Siegel took a 20 per cent pay cut “amid a pandemic-related revenue decline,” earning $1.3 million, meaning he tripled his pay cut in 2021.
USATF sent a statement to Runner’s World regarding Siegel’s salary performance:
“The CEO is evaluated yearly and is judged on overall organizational performance. The board is extremely pleased with Max’s performance. The organization’s success on and off the field of play has been historic under his leadership and we are poised to continue that trajectory. The USATF Board is comfortable with Max’s salary level and as a part of this year’s evaluation, we will do a deep dive with an outside firm to analyze his salary based on his level of expertise and how it compares to organizations with similar or smaller operating budgets.”
Each year the USATF board of directors, which is made up of 24 members, has to vote on and approve the salary of the USATF CEO.
Most U.S. track and field athletes are not typically paid to compete, though there are a few exceptions, such as Olympic medallists, athletes who rank in the top 10, and those with large followings on social media. These athletes may receive a bonus from their sponsors or USATF. However, most track and field athletes do not receive a salary or payment for their performances.