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      March 14, 2003:

-ABC Delegates Reject Proposed United States Bowling Congress Plan Of Merger

03/14/2003 - Bowling Newsline
      KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- American Bowling Congress delegates rejected a proposal to merge their organization with three other major bowling membership groups during ABC's annual meeting at the Knoxville Convention Center here today.

      After 45 minutes of debate on the proposed merger of the ABC, Women's International Bowling Congress, Young American Bowling Alliance and USA Bowling, the delegates voted 630-628 to reject the concept. A two-thirds majority was required for approval, which would have combined the four organizations' nearly 3.4 million members into a new United States Bowling Congress. The YABA and USA Bowling have already approved the plan, but one of the two remaining bodies must adopt the merger proposal for the new organization to become a reality.

      WIBC will vote on the plan April 29 at its Annual Meeting in Reno, Nev. First, the WIBC Board of Directors will present a motion to rescind the 2002 delegate action to delay the vote until 2004. If that motion passes, the WIBC delegation will vote on the proposal April 29.

      At the close of the meeting, ABC President Jim Bevins Jr. told the delegates, "You once again proved the democratic process works. You told us you want ABC to go in a different direction and that's what we'll do."

      "It was a good fight," ABC Executive Director Roger Dalkin said. "We felt we got the information into the hands of our delegates and they expressed their will. Different people expressed different reasons for opposing the plan. They made their decision and now ABC will move on. We have to decide how to best do business in the new century. We're going to make ABC the best organization we can."

      ABC Assistant Executive Director Jack Mordini noted the vote "was probably more emotional than based on fact. We couldn't transition the loyalties our delegates have toward the ABC to an unknown new organization."

      WIBC Executive Director Roseann Kuhn said, "I believe ABC did everything in its power to make the merger happen. I'm disappointed in the way it turned out. We looked forward to working together with ABC. WIBC's leadership still believes in the merger and we are going to do everything we can to move forward with the proposal."

      "Hopefully we'll still have the USBC," said WIBC President Sylvia Broyles. "We intend to continue working with ABC. We just won't be unified at this time."

      The verdict surprised YABA Executive Director Jim Zebehazy. "Personally, I'm deeply disappointed. But YABA trusts WIBC will see the wisdom of the USBC and move forward," he said. "We hope the women will not allow misinformation and misrepresentation to sway their vote."

      USA Bowling President Cathy Cooper also confirmed her board's support of the plan. "Our board has reaffirmed to go ahead with the merger if one of the two membership organizations goes forward," she said.

      What will be ABC's next step? Dalkin said his organization has developed contingency plans, but they will not be disclosed until after WIBC votes on the merger in April.

      As far as WIBC is concerned, Kuhn said her organization plans to push for passage.

      "We believe in the USBC," she said. "Why would we retreat now? We're going to enthusiastically try to get it passed."

      Seen as a better way to do business, the consolidation is an effort to eliminate costly duplication of services. The proposed USBC is estimated to save millions in operational costs in its first five years.

      If the merger is approved, the national transition would begin in summer 2003. USBC officially would be launched Jan. 1, 2004, the day after the national WIBC, YABA and USA Bowling organizations dissolve. WIBC and YABA local and state associations would have until July 31, 2008, to merge in their areas.

      The single membership organization initiative was started jointly in January 2000 to consolidate ABC, WIBC, YABA and USA Bowling and formed the Single Membership Organization Task Force to research the concept. Later, experts in non-profit mergers and consolidations were consulted. After initial reports by the Task Force in 2001, the ad hoc committees, which included local/state association leaders, were appointed by the organizations to further develop the plan.

      After listening to feedback from thousands of members, convention delegates, association officials, national board members and others, the committees presented its status report in Spring 2002. Further modifications led to the proposal presented to the respective merging organizations' boards of directors that approved the plan last November.

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