Mary Bono is out as interim CEO and president of USA Gymnastics. Bono resigned from her post on Tuesday, just five days after she was appointed.
The resignation comes after Bono faced mounting pressure and criticism questioning whether or not she was fit to lead the program. Several prominent USA gymnastics athletes -- including Olympians Simone Biles and Aly Raisman -- have publicly called out Bono and opposed her appointment in recent days.
Much of the criticism has come thanks to an anti-Nike tweet she sent in September. In that tweet, which has since been deleted, a photo showed that Bono used a black marker to cover up a white Nike logo on a pair of golf shoes -- a symbol of protest against.
"Playing in a charity golf tournament raising money for our nation's Special Forces operators and their families. Unfortunately had these shoes in my bag," Bono tweeted along with the photo. "Luckily I had a marker in my bag too."
Following Bono's appointment as interim CEO and president, Biles -- a Nike athlete -- helped bring attention to the tweet by quote-tweeting it with a message of concern.
After the tweet continued to garner attention and negative responses, Bono deleted it and issued an apology.
Hey all, I know the Tweet will live on but have taken it down to move the focus to all I hope to accomplish on behalf of a great sport & those who are dedicated to it— Mary Bono (@MaryBonoUSA) October 14, 2018
I look forward to telling my gymnastics story, my vision for the future of the sport and why I wanted the job.— Mary Bono (@MaryBonoUSA) October 14, 2018
However, Bono seemed to take a different tone in the resignation statement she released Tuesday, defending the tweet and saying that she "nationally exercised [the] first amendment" in the same way that Kaepernick did.
"My withdrawal comes in the wake of personal attacks that, left undefended, would have made my leading USAG a liability for the organization," Bono wrote.
Mary Bono is OUT as @USAGym interim president and CEO. In exit stmt, she defends her tweet marking out @Nike logo on her sneakers: “With respect to Mr. Kaepernick, he nationally exercised his first amendment right to kneel. I exercised mine” pic.twitter.com/qS0uaGdXyl— Sarah Boxer (@Sarah_Boxer) October 16, 2018
The anti-Nike tweet wasn't the only cause of pushback against Bono's appointment. Raisman, who has arguably been the face of USA Gymnastics over much of the past decade, tweeted concern over the idea that Bono's law firm, Faegre Baker Daniels, may have had a role in enabling the sexual abuse committed by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.
My teammates & I reported Nassar's abuse to USAG in 2015. We now know USOC & lawyers at Faegre Baker Daniels (Mary Bono's firm) were also told then, yet Nassar continued to abuse children for 13 months!? Why hire someone associated with the firm that helped cover up our abuse?— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) October 15, 2018
Clearly this is not a “new” USAG. Same corrupt decisions. Perhaps it’s because true accountability is less likely if authority is placed in the hands of someone similarly motivated to avoid it ....— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) October 15, 2018
Earlier this year, Nassar pleaded guilty to child pornography charges and 10 counts of sexual assault of minors, which resulted in a maximum prison sentence of 360 years. Nassar was accused of molesting at least 250 athletes -- many of them minors -- under the guise of medical treatment. Among his accusers were several well-known Olympic gymnasts, including Raisman and Biles.
Former USA Gymnastics president and CEO Kerry Perry resigned in September as a result of the sexual abuse scandal. That led to this month's appointment of Bono, 56, who is a former GOP congresswoman from California . She is also the widow of late pop star Sonny Bono.