COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — U.S. athletes will be aiming to break world records at the Olympic Games in Athens this month, but the foundation that funds the work of the U.S. Olympic Committee has more conservative goals.
The $235 million U.S. Olympic Foundation, the main funding source for the USOC, contributes 5% of its fair market value annually to the USOC's general fund, totaling around $10 million this year.
That funding obligation — along with close scrutiny from the USOC Board during quarterly meetings — convinced the foundation's five-member investment committee to maintain a fairly conservative investment philosophy, said R. Thayer Tutt, committee chairman. Both the USOC and the foundation are located in Colorado Springs.
"We manage money for difficult times. We tend to do very well in bad times," said Mr. Tutt.
"The challenge for us comes when things are good. We tend to underperform in good markets. When the market is doing well, people are grumpy and the phone rings off the hook. When times are bad, people stop calling."
The foundation's conservative investment philosophy has accomplished its goal of meeting its funding obligations, without trying to break any investment world records, Mr. Tutt said.
In the short-term, the foundation portfolio's return for the year ended Dec. 31 was 24.1%, outperforming the 23.35% composite return of endowments and foundations within Wilshire Analytics' Trust Universe Comparison Service. The USOF fund's three-year return was 2.9%, once again besting the 2.56% composite return of peer funds within TUCS.
Over a longer period, the foundation's returns significantly trailed those of peer funds within TUCS. The USOF returned 3.9% over the five-year period ended Dec. 31, compared to the 5.54% TUCS composite return. For the 10-year period, the USOF return was 7.2% vs. 10.07% for TUCS. All multiyear returns are annualized.