By: Patrick Larson
Last night, Tinman Elite released the following statement on LetsRun:
TINMAN ELITE STATEMENT, 4/25/21
First and foremost, we’d like to address our silence about the decision to part ways with Coach Schwartz. Our initial mutual aim with Coach Schwartz was to keep this news confidential until after the Olympic Trials in an effort to provide Coach Schwartz with time and space to determine his future coaching endeavors and to allow our athletes to focus on their Olympic goals.
It became clear to the team that Coach Schwartz's growing commercial coaching business and other pursuits made him unable to provide the individualized attention that the team needed in order to stay healthy and succeed long term. Despite parting ways with Coach Schwartz, the team has continued to uphold the mutually agreed upon compensation we committed to provide in our initial coaching agreement, allowing him time and support as he determines his next steps.
We wish Coach Schwartz well, thank him for his time with the team, and will work with him to address any additional concerns he may have. At this time, our team is focused on the future—the upcoming Olympic Trials and working to uphold our mission of pushing the sport of running forward through positive community outreach and athletic performance.
Thank you for the support.
- Tinman Elite
Let's dig in to what we know and don't know.
Does Tinman Elite still intend to keep the name?
As I’ve pointed out in previous articles, they filed for a trademark of Tinman Elite in December of 2020, but this has yet to be approved. The first trademark they filed for was in May of 2019, but that only covered the axe/ribbon logo. In the original LetsRun article, Tom Schwartz explicitly said he would prefer they change their name. Well, there is nothing in the Tinman Elite statement to suggest that they plan on changing their name. They do acknowledge that they will “work with [Tom] to address any additional concerns he may have.” I’m curious if the name is one of those concerns.
But, if Tom failed to agree on any sort of compensation or royalties for the use of his name, is he not partially to blame? Like I mentioned in a previous article, I think Tinman Elite has a huge opportunity to rebrand and move forward without this cloud hanging over them.
Legal rights aside, I think the name change more so comes down to the public perception of Tinman Elite going forward if they decide to keep the name or change it. I wouldn't blame them for wanting to keep the brand name they have built, but I also think there has been enough backlash thus far that by keeping the name it will only add future distractions for the group. If they decide to keep the name, I'll be interested to see if they decide to do any sort of profit sharing with Tom as a public display of good will. Again, I don't think they are obligated to do this by any means, but certainly might help put some negative public perception to bed.
Why is LetsRun not asking more questions?
For a website that claims to “cover the sport of running in a simple, effective way 365 days a year,” they seem to have missed a pretty big opportunity to ask some follow up questions regarding who will be taking over as head coach, if the team plans to change their name, and what/if any of the Tammy Schwartz claims are true. Similarly, I’d think it would be in their best interest to do the same with Tom! Instead, the situation is being dissected on the message boards when someone from the LetsRun staff could have gotten official answers on record.
What is Cory Leslie’s role?
Tinman Elite has updated their website to remove Tom Schwartz as head coach leaving Cory Leslie as the main running coach. However, he is still listed as the assistant coach. In their statement, Tinman didn’t address what Cory’s future role will be and whether the day-to-day guidance he is providing will become a full-time role or if he is just serving as the interim head coach.
What is Joan Hunter’s role?
We still don’t quite know what role Joan Hunter plays. But, again, it seems she had a certain level of influence given she was the one providing the official statement on behalf of the team when the original LetsRun article came out. Will she be playing more of an oversight role moving forward?
Where was Ray Flynn through all of this?
I’m not going to pretend to know the ins and outs of being a running agent, but it is a bit surprising that Ray Flynn, Drew and Sam’s agent, hasn’t said anything publicly on behalf of his clients.
How much does Tom Schwartz care?
We've obviously heard Tammy's side of the story, but I'd be really interested to get answers straight from Tom. How strongly does he actually feel about Tinman Elite needing to change their name? Was he as blindsided as Tammy makes it out to be? It's really unclear how much of a financial blow this is to Tom and it's not my place to speculate how much income he had coming from other running related ventures. But, at this point we have nothing on record from Tom besides his initial quote in the LetsRun article--who is to say that he isn't equally ready to move on from Tinman Elite as the athletes are ready to move on from him? I'm not suggesting Tammy is intentionally lying or distorting the truth, but as with anything its best to get the answers as close to the source as possible.
I reached out to Tinman Elite at 10:03pm CST on 4/25 to get a comment on whether they intend to keep their name as well as what the coaching roles are moving forward. At the time of publishing this blog post, they have not provided a comment. Additionally, I reached out to Ray Flynn, agent for Sam Parsons and Drew Hunter, but at the time of publication I have not heard back.