USA Swimming has bypassed Mike Unger, its vice- and acting-CEO since the passing of Chuck Wielguss, in favour of an outside appointment to the top job.
Tim Hinchey, 2016 Major League Soccer Executive of the Year and Colorado Rapids President, is the new President and Chief Executive Officer of the American swimming federation.
Hinchey’s arrival will be marked by a steep learning curve at a time of turmoil in the international swimming federation, FINA, and a challenge to America’s man at the top table, Dale Neuburger, over alleged conflict of interest made by Paolo Barelli, the Italian challenging for the FINA presidency.
USA Swimming has pinned its colours to the mast of FINA president Julio Maglione in the past several years but the 81-year-old and a succession plan involving Kuwait’s Husain Al-Musallam has thrown the loyalty of the leading swim nation into question. Al-Musallam is cited as a “co-conspirator” in a bribery guilty plea by Guam soccer official Richard Lai, a U.S. citizen in a case brought by the U.S. Justice Department.
The USA Swimming Statement in full:
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – A new chapter in the successful history of USA Swimming will begin as the organization announced that 2016 Major League Soccer Executive of the Year and Colorado Rapids President Tim Hinchey is the national governing body’s new President and Chief Executive Officer. He will start his tenure at USA Swimming on July 12.
A Big West Conference scholar-athlete as a varsity swimmer at UC Irvine and a member of U.S. Masters Swimming, Hinchey becomes the third chief executive since USA Swimming was formed, following Chuck Wielgus’ 19-year tenure and the organization’s first executive director, Ray Essick.
“This is an exciting time for USA Swimming and Tim Hinchey’s track record of business success and proven leadership abilities are well-suited to guide our future direction,” USA Swimming Board of Directors Chair Jim Sheehan.
“I’m excited to work with Tim and also for our staff and membership to experience the reasons why the Board of Directors selected him. Tim’s experience in sport at multiple levels will be invaluable to help us embrace the opportunities that can take swimming to the next level.”
Over 25-plus years as a sports business executive, Hinchey has driven growth and built an extensive network in a broad-based professional career that included leadership positions in the United States and the United Kingdom for organizations in Major League Soccer, English Premier League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and for junior and minor league hockey franchises.
“Leading USA Swimming is a dream job for me. Being involved in the sport of swimming has played a major part in shaping who I am as a person and as a professional, and I can’t wait to give back to our membership,” Hinchey said.
“I’ve benefitted from the dedication and commitment from athletes, coaches, volunteers and officials who make the sport so successful. It’s truly inspiring. It’s also an honor to join such a talented staff that has worked tirelessly to make USA Swimming the model national governing body in the Olympic movement. I look forward to continuing the legacy left by Chuck Wielgus by employing our resources and rolling up my sleeves alongside our staff, Board of Directors and membership to support our numerous stakeholders and grow the sport at all levels.”
In his most recent role as President of the Colorado Rapids, Hinchey has led the club to both on and off the field success. In 2016 alone, the team won the MLS Best Digital Content of the Year award, posted the highest average attendance in stadium history and set new club standards in sponsorship revenue and earned media. Part of Hinchey’s duties were to serve as a member of the Board of the Colorado Rapids Youth Soccer Club. Since he joined the Rapids in 2010, the team enjoyed a more than 300 percent increase in season ticket member accounts.
Shortly after taking over as team president, Hinchey developed the organization’s “One Club” mantra, which has banded together the franchise’s employees, from customer service staff to players and coaches to executive leadership to game-day venue workers, and created a culture of working together for the benefit of the whole. Since its inception, the program has expanded externally to the Rapids youth program, fans and corporate partners.
Under Hinchey’s direction, the Rapids created new initiatives such as the Chairman’s Club, a directors’ box and boardroom within the stadium, and the Summit Club, the Rapids’ first VIP hospitality venue for premium customers. The Rapids also secured their first-ever jersey sponsorship, which provided the club additional resources to re-invest in the organization’s business operations. Annual revenues of the Rapids nearly tripled since 2011.
Hinchey’s international experience includes a three-year term as the Vice President of Commercial and Chief Marketing Officer for English football club Derby County FC. As a member of the leadership team, he oversaw a philosophical shift in the club’s business operations and marketing approach, introducing innovative ideas and policies unique to English football that set new league standards.
The franchise broke new ground as the first club to secure a ‘Season Presenting Partner’ under Hinchey’s leadership, a relationship that grew as the company became Derby County’s jersey sponsor. With Hinchey at the helm, the Rams more than doubled their sponsorship revenue and saw record sales for corporate hospitality.
Before heading overseas, Hinchey served in executive positions for the NBA Charlotte Bobcats and the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets, as well as serving as Director of Strategic Alliances for Maloof Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Sacramento Kings.
In resurrecting the Bobcats business operations as Executive Vice President, Hinchey directed a team that re-defined its process to shatter the franchise’s season ticket holder record and secured more than 20 new corporate partners to double the sales revenue in one year.
As Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Chief Marketing Officer for the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets, Hinchey oversaw corporate partnerships, partner services, premium sales and service for the team. Part of his role included managing the team’s re-location from New Orleans to Oklahoma following Hurricane Katrina which earned widespread accolades for community engagement, ticket sales and corporate involvement.
His start in professional sports came began with the Los Angeles Kings in 1991 and continued with sales and marketing roles with the Tri-City Americans junior hockey club and the IHL Utah Grizzlies. Hinchey went on to serve as Director of Strategic Alliances for Maloof Sports & Entertainment, where he developed strategic plans for all corporate partnerships integral to the NBA Sacramento Kings, WNBA Sacramento Monarchs, WISL Sacramento Knights, ARCO Arena and Senior PGA Tour Gold Rush Classic.
Hinchey volunteers as an assistant swim coach for the Special Olympics Aurora Waves swim team and served on the Community Leadership Board of the American Diabetes Association of Colorado from 2013-16. He is a Board member of the Industry Advisor Committee for Insight Centre for Data Analytics based in Ireland, Arsenal Broadband Media in London and FanCompass in San Francisco.
A native of Danville, California, Hinchey went on to earn a B.A. in Economics while a four-year letterman swimmer at UC Irvine and went on to serve as a graduate assistant swim coach at the school. Hinchey and his wife Mia are the proud parents of six children.