The USA Cricket Association's (USACA) continued existence after more than 52 years as an Associate Member of the ICC may be nearing its end. The ICC announced on Monday that a resolution will be put forward at its annual conference in June to consider expelling the USACA.
The ICC notice is the latest step in an attempt to clean up governance issues that have plagued cricket in the USA for decades. The USACA has been suspended since June 2015, its third ICC administrative suspension since 2005. Though it was reinstated on two prior occasions, the ICC has taken a far more hands-on role during the third suspension in an effort to satisfy the majority of cricket stakeholders across the country whereas USACA's current membership - self-reported to be at 45 leagues as of April - puts them in a minority position.
"The decision to pass this resolution was not taken lightly by the ICC Board," ICC chief executive David Richardson said. "Our focus throughout this two year process has been on the unification of the USA cricket community behind USACA to grow and develop the sport. But it has become clear that this is just not possible and, having invested so much time and resources into helping USACA and with little in the way of cooperation from USACA, the ICC Board now felt that the only remaining option was for the ICC Full Council to consider expulsion of USACA as a member of the ICC."
The tipping point in the current phase of the governance dispute came on April 8 when USACA's membership rejected an ICC-approved version of a revised constitution at a Special General Meeting in New York. Ratifying a new constitution that met certain ICC stipulated requirements, including term limits for board members and having independent directors, was one of 39 terms and conditions laid out by the ICC in August 2015 for the USACA to be reinstated. Meanwhile, the suspension also meant that the USACA's annual funding grants from the ICC were discontinued and their debts surpassed $4 million as of their most recent financial disclosure for the 2014 tax year.
The USACA was initially given until October 1, 2015, to present a constitution for the ICC's review and approval before a deadline for ratification by February 1, 2016, but the deadline was extended on multiple occasions. During this time, the ICC formed four national advisory groups to address various areas of concern. The advisory groups included members of the USACA as well as the rival American Cricket Federation (ACF) in an effort to unify the parties. Among the four groups was the 10-person Sustainable Foundation Advisory Group (SFAG), tasked with helping to draft a new constitution.
Despite invitations to be included in the process, the USACA has maintained an adversarial stance throughout much of the current suspension. The ICC stated on Monday that the USACA had been uncooperative, most significantly with their refusal to ratify an ICC-approved constitution.
"USACA's refusal to engage in the process, to meet a number of fundamental reinstatement conditions, to provide responses to further requests for information and its apparent failure to put the ICC Board-approved constitution before its members without legitimate excuse undermines the all-important objective of uniting the sport," Richardson said.
The ICC has also assumed control of sanctioning authority for other cricket events in the USA while the USACA is under suspension. In that time, there has been increased interest in having the USA serve as a neutral venue for high-profile events including the Cricket All-Stars tour of 2015, Caribbean Premier League matches in Florida in 2016 with another round scheduled for 2017 as well as West Indies and India playing a T20 international series in Florida last August.
The USACA's previous ICC suspensions resulted in the men's and Under-19 national teams being barred from competing in ICC tournaments. The most significant blow came in 2007 when USA were relegated to World Cricket League Division Five just three years after having been one of two Associates - along with Kenya - to play in the 2004 Champions Trophy in England. However, the ICC has appointed members of the regional ICC Americas office to serve in a caretaker role overseeing USA's operations during the current USACA suspension.
In the event that a resolution is passed to expel the USACA, it is believed that the ICC Americas office will continue administering USA cricket affairs for at least another year and perhaps longer until a new governing body is formed. Alternatively, the ICC may review an application from another governing body, such as the rival ACF, to take the place of USACA as the ICC's member governing body in the USA, though at the moment that appears unlikely due to unresolved administrative issues with the ACF.
Though the USACA's debt is in millions, the ACF has had difficulty generating revenue since it formed in 2012 and at the moment would not have independent funding sufficient to sustain operations for the various national teams without assistance from the ICC. Their flagship national inter-league tournament has struggled to stay afloat since it was launched in 2014, and is dependent on self-funding from member teams. Meanwhile, the ACF's chief executive position has remained vacant for two years since the resignation of Jamie Harrison in May 2015.