As the U.S. Open got started this week, The New York Times was more interested in conflicts off the court than on it. An examination of the United States Tennis Association (U.S.T.A.), the 501(c)(6) national governing body for the sport of tennis, revealed that several of the organization’s current and recent board members have benefitted from the organization’s grants and contracts.
Ray Benton, a U.S.T.A. board member, is the CEO of a junior tennis center that received more than $840,000 from the U.S.T.A.’s charitable wings over the last three years. John Korff sat on a U.S.T.A. board that approved a $50,000 grant to a health club chain that his company bought only months later. Katrina Adams, currently first vice president of the U.S.T.A. board, is the Executive Director of a junior tennis program in Harlem that received more than $215,000 from the U.S.T.A. and its charitable operations while she was on the U.S.T.A. board. And Jeff Williams, also a U.S.T.A. board member, is longtime publisher of Tennis Media Company, which receives about $2.8 million from the U.S.T.A. for member magazine subscriptions.
A spokesman for U.S.T.A. explained that getting individuals involved in elite tennis on the board would be impossible without some conflict of interest. “You’d be kind of hard pressed to find someone with that kind of tennis expertise that might not have interacted with the U.S.T.A. at some point,” he said.
The Times calculated that at least $3.1 million of the U.S.T.A.’s $200 million budget that includes salaries, grants, vendor contracts, and other payments goes to organizations with ties to board members.
Given the apparent benefit some board members receive from the U.S.T.A., do you think it deserves to retain its “nonprofit” status?