Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna
The USA Cricket Association has been given one more chance to avoid possible expulsion as an Associate Member of the ICC if it votes to ratify a newly proposed and ICC-approved constitution by April 1 that would implement sweeping changes to USACA's governance structure.
Ratifying a new constitution was one of 39 terms and conditions laid out by the ICC for USACA to be reinstated from its ICC suspension, which has been in place since June 2015.
Failure to ratify the proposed constitution by April 1 may trigger a motion proposing to expel USACA to be tabled at the ICC's next board meeting later in April, with a vote on expulsion possibly being taken at the ICC Annual Conference in June.
The ICC announced on Wednesday that it had approved proposed changes to USACA's constitution, a process that has been in the works since 2013, when then USACA chief executive commissioned a governance review with TSE consulting.
Among the items in that initial governance review which appear in the ICC-approved framework for a new constitution are term limits for all positions, having three independent directors and two player directors - one male and one female - which would make up 50% of a reformatted 10-person board structure.
The new board would also include one director representing leagues to be voted on by leagues from around the country, one director representing and voted on by all clubs - thereby opening membership representation to clubs, whether or not the club is a member of a league - and three other individual directors with voting open to any individual member nationwide.
Under the current USACA voting structure, only league presidents of USACA member leagues are allowed to vote in general elections held every three years. This meant 38 votes were polled in the most recent USACA general election in 2015 to vote on the executive positions of president, two vice-presidents, treasurer and executive secretary. Eight other board members are elected by their respective regions to represent them to make up the other positions on the 13-man board. There are also currently no term limits, and, as such, Gladstone Dainty has served as president since 2003.
An independent chairman would also be appointed in the newly designed governance structure. For the first three years, the board would elect a chairman from among the three independent directors, who are also part of the board. According to the ICC release, the ICC board supported this measure with unanimous approval though it was opposed by the USACA board.
USACA had been given a deadline of December 15, 2016 to approve a new constitution. But that stance was softened somewhat by the ICC in December. A few days before that deadline, they issued a statement, following a series of meetings in New York in October and Dallas, Texas in early December between local stakeholders and an ICC delegation - including chairman Shashank Manohar and chief executive Dave Richardson - claiming that a "consensus had been reached" on approving a new governance structure.
The ICC-approved outline for the new constitution was formulated in large part by the Sustainable Foundation Advisory Group, one of four advisory groups put together by the ICC last May in an effort to speed up its implementation of a USA development strategy. Input was also provided by officials from the US Olympic Committee, and the proposed constitution meets USOC guidelines - specifically player representation and independent directors - in order for USACA to become a member governing body of the USOC.
"This constitution has been driven by the SFAG with the clear goal of developing a governance model that can unify the sport across the U.S. and provide a platform for cricket to grow and flourish at every level and for the benefit of all stakeholders in the USA," Eric Parthen, USA project manager for the ICC, said in a release. "We have studied best practices for non-profit sports organisations in the U.S. looking in particular at the U.S Olympic National Governing Bodies and have applied those principles to a model that works for cricket. The result is, I believe, the best opportunity for cricket in the USA the sport has ever had, and it is pleasing to have that assessment endorsed unanimously by the ICC Board.
"By unifying a diverse group of stakeholders under a single umbrella, we are collectively much stronger and in a better position to grow the game. I would like to thank everyone who has given their time to this project and I now urge USACA members to adopt the constitution so the sport in the USA can collectively move forward and seize the moment."
If the constitution is approved by the April 1 deadline, the proposed timeline laid out by the ICC calls for elections to be conducted by September 20 with an independent chairman to put in place by October 20 to allow for operations to begin under a new board.