Kim's Olympic Eligibility Questioned

By Bill Pinella

The Palm Beach Times

June 9, 1976  Kim Chace Gymnastics, Inc.  The simple name of a corporation formed in September 1974, under the laws of the state of Florida.  The day it was born, did the hopes of an Olympic-caliber gymnast end?  Did the money made by the corporation -- of which she was a director and the secretary-treasurer -- turn Kim Chace into a professional gymnast?  Will the fact that she taught competing gymnasts end her amateur career?

Those are questions a lot of people in this area have differing ideas on and questions the United States Olympic Committee refuses to acknowledge, much less answer.

On June 1 a phone call was made to the U.S. Olympic Committee in New York City.  C. Robert Paul, Jr. was informed that The Times had learned from Miss Chace's ex-husband Chuck Boyle, of the former existence of Kim Chace Gymnastics, Inc., and of checks payable to the school for a total of $1,930.40 from Nov. 6, 1974 to Jan. 7, 1975.  Would this indeed make her a professional and if so would the U.S. Olympic Committee investigate the matter?

"I would think it would lean that way," Paul answered, "but, hey, why don't you do us a favor and not print anything until after August 1?  No, we won't look into it.  We can't do anything like that until it's in print," Paul said.

Paul was asked if there was anyone else on the committee who might be able to answer the questions.  He said Col. F. Don Miller, executive director of the committee, would be the next step.  But he was out of the office and wouldn't be back until Wednesday.

Six phone calls from Wednesday through Friday to Col. Miller turned up nothing.  Tuesday, Times Sports Editor Larry Bush met Paul at the Associated Press Sports Editors seminar in New Orleans and Paul told Bush that Col. Miller had been told to dodge phone calls.

Kim Chace's story is a long one for a 20 year old.  She's been round the world three times because of the gymnastics career she started at a tender age.  She finished 18th overall in the last Olympics in Munich, second only to Cathy Rigby among the U.S. women gymnasts.  The then 16-year-old came back home to Lake Park to finish Palm Beach Gardens High and continue workouts at Wells Recreation Center in Riviera Beach.

Enter Chuck Boyle.  A graduate of Monmouth (N.J.) College with a business degree, Boyle had moved to the area at the end of 1972 and was working at Wells at the time.  They started dating and on June 31, 1973, ran away to New Jersey where they were married July 28, much to the dismay of Chace's parents, according to Boyle.

"On April 16, 1974, our son Chris was born," Boyle said.  "Then in September of that year we opened the school under the name of Kim Chace Gymnastics, Inc.  We were teaching 40-50 kids, four nights a week and making $700-$800 a month profit.  Everyone in this area knew it and Kim knew at the time she was giving up her amateur status," Boyle said.  He still has bank drafts made out to the school.  Nine of them total $1,930.40 and were written between Nov. 6, 1974 and Jan. 7, 1975.

"Then in January, 1975, Kim decided she wanted to go back into competition and try for Montreal in 1976.  So, we sold the school to Mr. Chace for $1.  But Kim continued to teach there and was paid a minimal part of the funds, something like 10 per cent.  I helped out a few nights and still got a check every month for $150 and the other 20 per cent went for taxes," he said.

His job on the Florida East Coach Railway was eventually transferred to Miami.  The travel time, his long days at work, Kim's workouts and trying to be a housewife and mother finally took its toll on the marriage, he said.  "Then in May, 1975, she decided to pick gymnastics over a family and we were divorced," Boyle said.

For the first year and a half following the Munich Games, Kim quit the sport entirely.  "After Chris was born I wanted to go back into gymnastics and my husband said no," she was quoted in another publication recently.

"Never once did I tell her to quit," Boyle said, "she quit on her own."

But for the past two and a half years she trained and worked with Montreal as a goal and on May 15 in Los Angeles she was named as the third woman on the six-women team which will represent the United States in Montreal next month.

But do the Olympic rules permit her return?  Two in particular read as follows:

*  A competitor must not act as a professional coach or trainer in any sport.
*  A competitor shall not use his name for advertising of any kind.

Some of the local amateur swimming coaches will tell you their swimmers can teach anyone to swim and make money for it as long as the student is not a competitor.  Were there any competing gymnasts going to Kim Chace Gymnastics, Inc.?

"No," says her father and coach Bill Chace.  "Terry Depka was paid $3 an hour as a part-time instructor at the school but that was after it was no longer called Kim Chace Gymnastics.  It was called the Chace Gymnastics School then as it is now," he said.

"Terry Depka was competing in meets in Fort Lauderdale at the time," Boyle said, "and so were some of the other girls in the school."

According to Bill Chace, the school opened for only two months in 1974, from October to December; the couple bought $600 worth of mats and a $900 Dodge van out of their savings account and they never made back the money they had invested from their savings.

"After that I took it over and put it in my name," Bill Chace said.  "We paid them absolutely nothing for it."

"When Kim decided to go back into competition I called Frank Bare (executive director of the U.S. Gymnastics Federation), told him the same things I am telling you and he said according to the USGF rules you can teach school and gymnastics and still be an amateur as long as 50 per cent of your sustenance is not gained from this effort.  As long as she didn't make that she is still an amateur and this is the basis for which we went back and competed," Bill Chace said.

A phone call to Bare at his Tucson, Ariz., office revealed Bill Chace to be correct concerning the 50 per cent earnings.

"I didn't know she (Kim) had the school," Bare said.  "I thought it was her father's name all along.  But from you have told me I'd say she is eligible and there's no problem," Bare added.

Now the only problem Bill Chace sees is in the name of the school.

"That is the only thing I can think of that might have some basis.  She used her name and tried to draw students.  As far as the money is concerned less than $300 of actual income is involved and Kim has never signed a check or spent any of the money," Bill Chace said.

University of Florida track coach and assistant U.S. Olympic track coach Jimmy Carnes said names can present problems to amateur athletes.  "Let's say I had a pole vaulter John Smith," Carnes said.  "Now, he could teach at our track school, but we couldn't call it the John Smith Pole Vault School."

This page was created on June 3, 2005.
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