Rob Urbach, the new USAT CEO, is hoping to raise the profile of the sport of triathlon, including Olympic triumphs and more media attention.
Rob Urbach was an All-American tennis player at Centre College in Kentucky, way more comfortable with serves, forehands and lob shots than he was with swimming, biking and running. A 1979 Sports Illustrated article on the Ironman triathlon forever changed him.
“This is something that really appeals to me,” Urbach said he thought as he competed in his first triathlon, an age-group event in 1981 in Louisville, Ky. “I want to do this.”
That burning desire equated to a lifelong hobby rather than a lucrative profession, but he never has lost belief in the value of the endurance sport, intent on using his power as the new chief executive officer of USA Triathlon to increase the crowds at the starting lines.
Urbach, 48, has spent his first two months on the job trying to determine ways to raise the profile of the Colorado Springs-based national governing body, which boasted an all-time high 134,942 members, $6.8 million in total assets and roughly 50 employees when Skip Gilbert was forced to resign in August from a $243,096 post he had held for 5 ½ years.
On top of getting money from its members, USA Triathlon is supported by 325,000-plus people who purchase one-day licenses to race in events across the country, as well as 869 clubs and 36 corporate partners. Media coverage of triathlon remains minimal, especially in non-Olympic years, with only a few competitions broadcast on TV and most reporters unlikely to write stories about the sport until the buildup to the 2012 London Games.
Read more: The Gazette