Jamie Harrison, the first chief executive of the American Cricket Federation, resigned from the position over the weekend after 20 months in the role. Harrison and the ACF issued separate statements on Monday to confirm his departure with the 51-year-old citing a desire to refocus his time and energy on his other role as the president of the US Youth Cricket Association.
"I return to my first love, leaving individuals far more capable than I to manage the minutiae of national cricket governance," Harrison wrote in his press release. "Understand, I was never a true CEO in the way in which, say, Microsoft has a CEO. I am more Che Guevara than Satya Nadella, more community organizer than boardroom suit."
The decision comes just a few weeks after Harrison and the ACF executive board had a teleconference with ICC global development manager Tim Anderson as part of Anderson's report for the ICC Annual Conference in June on the state of cricket in the USA. Harrison had been a consistently strident critic of the ICC and advocated early on in his reign that it was the USA who should be relinquishing its association with the ICC rather than the ICC having the authority to suspend USA. In recent times though, he campaigned hard for the ACF to become the ICC's officially recognized governing body in America in place of USACA.
The ACF stated they were searching for a CEO to replace Harrison. It is a necessary position listed under the ICC's Associate Membership criteria guidelines and without a full-time paid administrator it may make the challenge of taking over from USACA as the ICC's recognized governing body in the USA more problematic. However, USACA has not had a CEO since the resignation of Darren Beazley in March 2014.
Harrison's time with ACF saw the organization grow from a fledgling offshoot of USACA when he joined in September 2013 to one whose membership blossomed in its first year under his leadership. By the spring of 2013, ACF had recruited enough new members to join its ranks to initiate a national interleague competition featuring 17 teams. Harrison touted it as a great success, but the competition endured its share of hardships.
Among those were a series of forfeited games due to lack of interest from participating teams as well as a struggle for teams to travel for out of state matches independent of financial assistance from the ACF. One of the six division winners, Arizona Cricket Association, which qualified for the 2014 ACF National Championship in Florida only arrived with 10 players due in part to the costs of players funding their own travel. The ACF interleague competition's web site currently lists 13 teams for the new 2015 season which got underway on May 9, down four from its first season including the disappearance of the South West Division. However, ACF officials claim that the full schedule has not been released and that there will be 20 teams.
In November, Harrison announced the ACF's formation of a new Team USA national program in which he stated that a general manager would be hired within weeks to oversee the management of the operation as well as a series of sponsors. Six months later, the project is stagnant with no general manager or significant sponsorships. The only subsequent announcement made regarding ACF's Team USA program came in February to state that only players who played in the ACF interleague competition would be eligible. This effectively would eliminate the talent rich northern California and Pacific Northwest regions from consideration as there is no ACF member league representation in that part of the country.
Aside from the uncertainty surrounding the ACF interleague competition, this spring also saw the first significant defection from the ACF with Dr. Vincent Adams, who was part of the ACF's honorary advisory board, leaving his role in March for an unsuccessful USACA presidential bid. Adams was subsequently named to lead an ICC liaison panel for USACA and was in attendance at the ICC Americas T20 in Indianapolis. Harrison's departure, officially on Saturday May 16, also coincided with the ACF's web site being offline for five consecutive days starting on May 12 due to what Harrison claimed was a cyber-hacker attack.
Although the ACF is not saddled with more than $4 million in debt that belongs to USACA, they are also not generating nearly enough money to fund and sustain programs. According to sources, the ACF's total revenue generated in the last year was less than $50,000 while USACA's latest tax returns from 2013 show $95,000 in membership revenue, separate from the roughly $400,000 USACA received in ICC grant allocations.
Lesly Lowe, president of the New York Commonwealth League which joined ACF last year and is America's largest amateur cricket league, said his backing of the ACF will not be affected by Harrison's departure.
"I'm still one of the biggest supporters of ACF, that will not change," Lowe told ESPNcricinfo. "Jamie resigning, he's done a lot for ACF and he was the face of ACF. We all know that but I will continue to support ACF. We're on the right track and I've written to the ICC to tell them they're backing the wrong horse. If they really want to promote cricket in the USA, they should look closely at the ACF."