Monday, January 12, 2015

A Shakeup at the New York State Athletic Commission and What it Means for the Sport


Longtime New York State Athletic Commission Chairperson Melvina Lathan was ousted today, and named as her replacement was Thomas Hoover, whose resume includes a stint running the boxing program for the Oneida Indian Nation in Upstate New York. It's unclear at this point where Commissioner Hoover stands on MMA, but the sport is certainly losing an ally with Commissioner Lathan's departure.

When she first assumed the role of chairperson in 2008, Commissioner Lathan sat in on a number of MMA shows in New Jersey to learn the ins and outs of how an athletic commission should do its job. Later, when Strikeforce came to Manhattan to hold a press conference at Madison Square Garden, she left the presser with a Gina Carano/Cris Cyborg poster tucked under her arm - further proof that regardless of what was and was not allowed in her jurisdiction, she was still a fan. Sadly, with the ban on pro MMA still in place, Commissioner Lathan never got a chance to sanction such an event during her tenure.

Where does this leave those of us hoping to see a UFC in New York? Probably in the same place we were yesterday, as the issues keeping the sport out of state rest squarely on the shoulders of the legislators in Albany. But regardless of where Commissioner Hoover stands on MMA, the NYSAC is still home to a few supporters, such as Commissioner John Signorile (who attended an MMA judging seminar run by Rob Hinds last year), Deputy Commissioner Keith Sullivan, and Director of Events Mario Mercado. Since there is a pervading fear among insiders that the commission will be ill-prepared if and when it is burdened with responsibility for overseeing the sport, it's likely it will be just as ready under Commissioner Hoover as it was under Commissioner Lathan.

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