After 15 years of service and several months of controversy, Sam Freas has retired as president and CEO of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
In recent months, his actions have been attacked by several Hall of Fame inductees, who have demanded his resignation and requested their names and medals be disassociated from the Hall. They include Greg Louganis, Mary T. Meagher, John Naber, Bill Yorzyk, and Alan Ford. In September, ISHOF?s board chairman, Dale Neuburger, resigned, stating that Freas? conduct was the reason.
Freas was accused of making false or exaggerated statements regarding the decision to move ISHOF to a new location in Daytona Beach, Fla. In 2001, the city of Fort Lauderdale voted down a proposal to expand ISHOF with new pools and a museum. The denial sparked a battle between those who wanted to remain in Fort Lauderdale and those, such as Freas, looking to move.
In Neuburger?s resignation letter, he also accused Freas of squandering $4 million and making unapproved expenditures on ISHOF?s account.
By November, as the controversies came to a head, the board reluctantly asked Freas to step down, said Bob Duenkel, executive director of ISHOF. Freas officially resigned in late November. ?Even though I consider it unfair asking Sam to retire, we can now, with the leadership changes in Fort Lauderdale, have an opportunity to establish new relationships in both Daytona and Fort Lauderdale,? said Trevor Tiffany, ISHOF board member.
Freas, a former swim coach and author of several books, currently is taking some time to consider his next step. ?It?s been a pleasure to work in such a great city and for such a wonderful organization as ISHOF,? he said. ?I will surely miss it.?