"My goal is to make Utah proud, to make America proud," Romney said.
As Gov. Mike Leavitt announced a sweeping reorganization of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, including new rules aimed at avoiding conflict of interest, three members resigned. The committee gave Romney its unanimous endorsement to take over the running of the 2002 Winter Games, which have been rocked by the biggest corruption scandal in modern Olympic history.
"These games and the preparations leading up to the games will comply with the highest level of ethical conduct," Romney told the committee.
Leavitt proposed expanding the committee's board of trustees from 33 to 50 and stripping it of its decision-making authority, making it an advisory board to a new management committee of 20.
The governor gave any committee member with a perceived conflict of interest 60 days to resign. The proposal directly affects members Earl Holding and Alan Layton.
Layton immediately stepped down. His construction company won a $29 million contract to enclose the speed-skating oval.
Holding, who remained on the committee, is the owner of Snowbasin Ski Area, which will get $13.8 million from the committee as the downhill and super-G venue, and Little America Grand, a hotel being built downtown that is expected to be the International Olympic Committee's home during the games.
Also resigning was Verl Topham, president of Utah Power, who had served on the original bid committee.
The governor also proposed an open meetings and records policy and a rule requiring members to attend 75 percent of those meetings.
He urged the IOC to continue its housecleaning. "We cannot allow the integrity of the Olympics to be eroded by indecisiveness or arrogance," he said.
Following the shakeup in Salt Lake City, Olympic sponsors, meeting in New York, reportedly called again for a full cleanup of the International Olympic Committee.
David D'Alessandro, president of insurance giant and major Olympic sponsor John Hancock, says, "Our message is, either you clean it up, or companies like us are not going to support what is clearly an enterprise that is insincere in its efforts."
Romney, the choice of Leavitt and committee chairman Robert Garff, met with members of a hastily organized selection committee Tuesday night.
That came just hours after an ethics panel of the committee released a report saying bid committee executives engaged in unethical conduct in spending more than $1 million to curry favor with 24 IOC members and win the right to hold the games.
Romney, 51, a Republican who unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1994, is the son of the late George Romney, governor of Michigan.
Romney's Boston company, Bain Capital Inc., specializes in buyig companies and turning them around. Domino's was a recent acquisition.
"He has the perfect business background. He knows how to take major businesses in trouble and turn them around," said Henry Marsh, one of a handful of committee trustees asked by Garff on Tuesday to look over applications for the top committee job.
Tuesday's ethics report linked 10 additional IOC members to the scandal, bringing the number of delegates accused of accepting excessive benefits to 24.
The IOC said the ethics report was being forwarded to its own six-person panel investigating the Salt Lake City case.