U.S. Olympic Committee near new CEO, eyes Vancouver

By Peter Henderson

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The U.S. Olympic Committee is about 30 days away from selecting a new chief executive who will help improve international relations, the board chairman said on Monday.

Chairman Larry Probst said he was "not going anywhere" despite troubles including Chicago losing its bid to host the 2016 Summer Games.

"Clearly we need to do better and we understand that," Probst said.

The USOC may not hit its target January 1 goal of having a new chief but Probst told reporters after a board meeting that he expected one in 30 days or less.

Some 140 candidates have been short-listed down to a small number to be interviewed in coming weeks. The committee will recommend one or two candidates to the full board.

No names have been confirmed by the committee but outsiders see a healthy list of potential chiefs whose first job would be to shore up relations with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and combat the U.S. group's reputation for arrogance.

Among the possible choices are A.D. Frazier, radio station owner and chief operating officer of the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol, International Baseball Federation President Harvey Schiller, former Salt Lake City Olympic executive Fraser Bullock, National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber, and Heidi Ueberroth, an NBA executive and daughter of former powerful USOC Chairman Peter Ueberroth.

The board has not discussed when to bid again for games and it held off looking at a draft 15-year plan until the new CEO is on board, Probst said.

VANCOUVER PREP

"We think we are in great shape," Probst said.

The U.S. group also has annoyed the International Olympic Committee by embarking on discussions for a cable network.

Probst said there was a pause in talks, partly because carrier Comcast, its preferred partner, is in a complex deal with General Electric to take control of NBC Universal.

NBC also has the U.S. broadcast rights to the Vancouver games and Probst hoped to move forward on the network with the support of the IOC.

(Reporting by Peter Henderson; Editing by Bill Trott)