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By Venu Palaparthi
USACA called a special general meeting on August 16, 2014 to coincide with the final of the National Championship to be played at the nearby Central Broward County Stadium.
The special meeting will begin at 9AM. All 'leagues in good standing' have been invited to participate in the special meeting and ratify amendments to the constitution.
With just a week remaining ahead of the ratification, much of the cricketing population in the U.S. remains completely in the dark regarding the specific amendments.
It is also not clear which leagues have been determined to be in 'good standing.' Many of the leagues listed on the USACA website were previously disqualified and have distanced themselves from USACA. Also, some on that list have not held a league game in over a year.
In response to an email requesting a preview of the proposed amendments and the names of leagues in good standing, a USACA board member replied that Mas Bailey, the executive secretary, is working on the package.
USACA's Governance Review Committee announced in May of 2013 that it had selected TSE Consulting, based in Indianapolis, to review its governance structure and make recommendations for improving governance of the sport. That process was completed and an executive summary of TSE's recommendations was published in September of 2013.
In October 2013, Brian Walters traveled across USA to collect feedback on TSE's recommendations. He was joined on the tour by Tim Anderson of ICC and USACA's CEO Darren Beazley. At the half way point of the tour, Walters said: "The reaction (of the leagues) to the TSE's recommendations and USACA's suggested response has been overwhelmingly positive."
The goal of the Review Committee was to recommend changes to the constitution at the November 2013 AGM. At that AGM, USACA announced the formation of a Governance Implementation Committee. USACA President Gladstone Dainty said: "It is planned that any changes requiring constitutional change will be ready by summer 2014."
Following Walters' resignation from the Implementation Committee frustrated by the lack of 'real, tangible change,' USACA reiterated its commitment to organize a vote on a new constitution by Summer.
Earlier in the summer, USACA made concessions on membership fees hoping to improve its membership strength. According to Mas Bailey, the non-financial criteria for good standing status remained in effect. Some of these non-financial criteria contributed to a majority of the leagues being disqualified at the time of the last election. Absent a clarification regarding that, leagues were in no rush to return to USACA.
The deep-rooted distrust that prevails among the affected leagues is unlikely to diminish despite ICC's repeated statements and pronouncements in support of USACA and WICB's efforts to win over the leagues.
Last month, West Indies Cricket Board pitched in to help USACA win back some of the leagues ahead of the ratification. In response to a question asking why WICB was getting involved in US domestic cricket league disputes, Dave Cameron, President of WICB, tweeted, "If the West Indies does not get involved to try and solve it. Who will? Just trying to make things better for all." Clarifying that WICB was not taking sides, Cameron tweeted, "I am just trying to get all together."
Had USACA delivered full transparency on the changes that it was planning to make together with a public comment period, that might have helped somewhat. But that has not been the case so far.
The ultimate litmus test lies ahead.
If the proposed changes include the following three key TSE recommendations - meaningful term limits for all board members, 20% athlete representation, and minimum 50% representation by independent directors, that might at least lead to a change in the perception that USACA simply cannot be reformed.
Of course, since the rival ACF already has all of the above principles ingrained in its constitution, merely adopting the aforementioned amendments might not persuade ACF leagues to return en masse to USACA.
For leagues to begin believing in USACA, USACA must demonstrate that it can deliver services to its membership and it must also swallow the bitter pill of leadership change.