Chris Spice Jumps Ship to Join British Swimming

Chris Spice British Basketball Performance Director

Chris Spice British Basketball Performance DirectorChris Spice is stepping down from his role as British Basketball’s Performance Director to join British Swimming in the same role from April.

The Australian, with a background in hockey, leaves GB amidst increasing criticism from the British basketball community having left no tangible legacy from £8.5m in funding over the 2012 Cycle and a GB Senior Men and Women’s team going a combined 1-9 at the London Olympics.

Whilst British Basketball still has their funding amount for the 2016 Cycle to be decided after successfully appealing a decision to cut it to zero, British Swimming is to receive more than £25m pounds over the next four years (£21.3 for swimming, £4.3 for synchronised swimming).

“This is a big opportunity for me and my experience working with basketball for the last six years has given me valuable insight into the organisation and structure required to improve sporting performance,” said Spice in a statement released by British Basketball. “I hope I can make a difference to British Swimming.”

Meanwhile, Chairman Roger Moreland said personnel changes are to be expected.

“Personnel changes occur constantly in all organisations and the key is to use it as an opportunity to kick on to greater things. British Basketball will be no exception,” he said today. “We aspire to win medals consistently in international championships in the future and we are focussed on making that aspiration a reality.

“We know how important a performance focus is to UK Sport as well and we want to justify the faith they have had in our sport. Following last week’s funding decision, we will be wasting no time in our pursuit of the very best Head Coaches to take the GB teams into their respective EuroBaskets this summer.

“We will also be looking at how we will replace Chris and will work closely with UK Sport to ensure we are as well positioned as we possibly can be to deal with the challenges ahead.”

UK Sport’s Performance Director, Simon Timson, spoke positively about the future for British Basketball.

“It is important to have a real focus on performance in any sport to achieve international success,” he said. “British Basketball has moved from the backwaters of the international game to compete with the very best in the sport. Their task now is to win consistently in competition against the very best and we will work closely with British Basketball to support their efforts to maintain and enhance the focus they have on raising the level of performance through putting in place the best possible people to lead their drive for Rio.”

More to come.

  • Franklyn

    I would like to know what are the requirements for a performance director and in particular, a basketball performance director.
    What were the measures of success GB Basketball agreed with him? Clearly, UK Sports believes that GB basketball failed last time around hence the funding cut and clearly the buck has to stop with the performance director? What will be the measures of success gong forward? Will there be performance reviews at agreed stages? Will there be consequences if these stage targets are not met?

    Was Mr Spice pushed/encouraged to leave? Did he leave because swimming is a better “gravy train”? Did he/does he have an emotional tie-in to basketball or is it just a job? I guess i’ll never know the answers to these questions but would love someone to try to shed some light

  • Graeme Roberts

    Personally I’m delighted to see the back of Chris Spice. His immediate reaction to the funding cuts was to suggest cutting the GB youth teams, which shows his ineptitude & his complete lack of interest in sustaining the long-term security & success of basketball in Britain. Given the poor performances & results at the Olympics (especially the men), he should have stepped down immediately after the Closing Ceremony. British basketball has wasted another 8 months’ salary on a guy who has no past links with basketball & has shown little interest in anything other than picking up his own pay cheque. Hopefully this is an opportunity to get somebody on board who is both competent & passionate about basketball & who can drive the programme onto greater things.

  • Old Naismith

    1. He is Australian.
    2. He didn’t know one end of a basketball from a ….fill in the blank.
    3. He left Hockey and Rugby after a few years with those two sports too and several people in both those sports were glad to see the back of him.
    4. deja vu then.
    It has always bemused me….how can you be named a Performance Director in a sport where you (a) have never actually performed in (palyer, coach, nothing) and (b) know nothing about (c) know nobody within that sport.
    What do these people actually do? I think it is a mis-nomer (and that goes for the other sports too)….because the COACH is responsible for performance, along with one or two of the useful sport scientists (and not by all of them by any means!)….so it is just a glorified title – basically these guys are just yet more admin staff which we absolutely love in British sport!!
    It’s all a bunch of bs…..

  • Adam

    The role of the Performance Director is very important. He or she appoints coaches,agrees programmes with them, plans their preparation and games, etc. The key is, after all is agreed , to implement this – from securing the players, to organising training, finding opposition to play against, good tournaments,officials and the rest. Managing player’s and staff’s contracts, relationship with FIBA and federations. It is not enough to be a coach. This person must be very experienced in international basketball obviously as this is the core of the job, but they also must have very good management skills and , in ideal world, be well known internationally. Spice perhaps had some good organisational skills and he was well connected in UK Sport. But he and his staff were anonimous in international basketball and this hurt the programme. Naimly, the players (and clubs) did not respect the team to show.

    • Old Naismith

      Don’t have the word “Performance” in the title then! Your list, whilst all very pertinent and correct and important to the programme, is, semantics aside, just an ‘admin’ role.
      In US Colleges this would be and Athletic Director. In the NBA he is the GM and / or Basketball Operations guy.

      • Adam

        Performance director and Operations could be one role, exactly like the GM or Athletics director. They are not only admin guys but people who hire and fire coaches. This ideally should be the top person in BPB, the other board members are the politicians. All elite basketball nations have a well known person on this position, we had Spice and Wuotila…

  • Fan

    British Performance Basketball Ltd.
    Director’s Report and Financial Details for Year Ending March 31st 2012

    • Fan

      Interestingly, it would seem that the BBF is a Dormant Company !!!

    • Alex

      Half million pounds a year for staff pay and directors remunerations! Unbelievable…I assume also that this does not include the coaches, players, physios, doctors and the rest? These people are part-timers – they don´t do anything for most of the year.

  • old skool flava

    Oh, the irony.

    British Basketball (initially) loses its funding, because it hasn’t performed as expected/judged by UK Sport.


    The British Basketball Performance Director (ermmm, didn’t he oversee the basketball program) is deemed to have performed well enough to gain a new post in UK Sport.

    Weird, athletes who don’t perform, and sports which don’t perform lose their funding.

    You couldn’t make it up!!!!

    • Alex

      From what I read it looks like swimming has too many internal issues and not many top people were interested in the job. They also have been guaranteed funding for the first year only at this stage. As far as Spice is concerned, he is one of their own people – didn´t he come to basketball nominated by UK Sport?!

  • RJ

    Surely the bigger questions here are;

    Who hired Chris Spice (A guy with no Basketball knowledge or experience) in the first place and how are they being held accountable?

    Based on this track record, what makes us think his successor will be any better?!

  • Alex

    I think that this time around the basketball community should make a noise about this and ensure that a basketball expert is hired. After all, we all helped for the funding to be restored and we deserve explanation from Moreland and the rest. He also failed and he obviously allowed Spice to do whatever he wanted, he should not be allowed to appoint new personnel himself.

  • Who do people think would be a good candidate for the job?

    • RJ

      Anyone with any form of experience at any level of Basketball would be an instant and dramatic improvement…

  • Unhappy Swimmer

    Basketball’s gain is Swimming’s loss. The British Swimming and Amateur Swimming Association Boards are not fit for purpose in my view – especially David Sparkes. British Swimming effectively fires a Performance Director for its poor performance at the 2012 Olympics yet hires another Performance Director who is “leaving” his sport under the cloud of poor performance. Where else in business does this happen?? No wonder GB Rowing & Cycling are as good as they are. I really liked the Gravy Train comment – so true, so true. I really hope that GB basketball does not go down the line swimming has over recent years. There is minimal accountability because “the powers” are too controlling …. recent revelations about BBC DJ controlling ability over 50 years spring to mind …… and with narcissistic tendancies.

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