MIKE WOITALLA: Gulati linked MLS to grass roots

If you are a fan, player, college coach, high school coach, referee or youth soccer administrator, you have something in common with Sunil Gulati. While a high-school player, Gulati earned pocket money refereeing. He coached at Bucknell University, and made $600 the year he coached a New York high school. Otherwise, he spent his adult life, until 1992, as the game's most effective volunteer. His first administrative duties came with the Cheshire Soccer Club in Connecticut -- he was still a teenager -- and then he served the state's select team program at age 21 before moving on to regional ODP work. Gulati arrived on the national scene by running a national team camp in 1985. He made his living as a professor at Columbia University, and later with the World Bank. In his spare time, he helped manage the national teams' program. In an era when full-time U.S. Soccer Federation employees were rare, Gulati helped organize events -- including the creation of the U.S. Cup -- and handled personnel issues for the national teams. In 1992, he went pro, as executive vice-president for World Cup USA 1994. Before the tournament, Gulati created a charity drive that donated $1 million from U.S. Soccer to UNICEF and the Children's Defense Fund. After the tournament, Gulati became the MLS deputy commissioner. Armed with about $15 million -- an amount major European clubs spend on a single player -- Gulati fielded an entire league. Gulati engineered Project-40, whose success rate is ahead of schedule. He is the managing director of Project 2010, an excellent plan addressing all the crucial areas of American soccer. Yet MLS has demoted him from deputy commissioner. I know that Gulati will still make valuable contributions to American soccer. But now we must start worrying about how much this pro league will care about all the other facets of our game. FANS: LET'S HEAR YOUR VIEW Is Sunil Gulati's dismissal a cause for alarm? Click here to log onto (Soccer) American Graffiti. Then click on the topic entitled "YOUR VIEW: Gulati linked MLS to grass roots" and respond to Mike Woitalla in 200 words or less. Don't hold nothin' back! Best responses will be reprinted in Soccer America Magazine. If YOUR View is selected, we'll send you a cool t-shirt and pin... Because You're FANATIC.
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