The New York Racing Association board of directors appointed an interim leadership team Monday to replace outgoing COO and President Ellen McClain.
Senior Vice President and CFO Susanne Stover, Vice President of Facilities & Racing Surfaces Glen Kozak and Vice President of Corporate Development David O’Rourke will take control of day-to-day operations Wednesday. They will be in charge until a new CEO is found.
The board’s search committee and search consulting firm have talked to more than 150 people in connection with the CEO search, including potential candidates and references. NYRA Board of Directors Chairman David Skorton said in Monday’s meeting that they expect to start interviewing candidates soon, although they don’t have a final list for consideration yet.
Last year when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans for a state-run NYRA board, he said the search for a new CEO should be its first priority. The position has been vacant since last May, when the NYRA board fired then-President and CEO Charlie Hayward for his alleged role in a takeout scandal.
NYRA is offering a $300,000 base salary and about $250,000 in annual incentives for the next CEO. The position had a base pay of $475,000 in 2012.
Stover’s base pay in 2012 was $295,000, Kozak’s pay was $268,000 and O’Rourke’s was $220,000.
It is not clear whether the interim leadership team will receive pay increases for their new roles. It is also not clear whether McClain will receive any monetary package from NYRA upon her exit today. NYRA said that both questions should be directed to their Freedom of Information officer.
At Monday’s meeting, it was acknowledged that the interim leadership team is experienced and a board member estimated that they would serve for about 60 days. While the interim leadership team is in place, it is expected that board committee chairmen will have weekly interactions with them.
McClain rose to power under Hayward, who brought her on as CFO in 2009. Two years later she became COO and last spring she replaced Hayward as the president of NYRA.
Her appointment was criticized immediately by then-state Racing and Wagering Board Chairman John Sabini and then-Franchise Oversight Board Chairman Bob Megna, who said the NYRA board was not in a position to permanently replace Hayward at that time. Megna has since joined the new NYRA Board.
Since taking over day-to-day operations, McClain has been praised by the racing industry for her stewardship of NYRA, which turned a profit in 2012 for the first time in recent years.