Mitt Romney turned to a former business colleague for the No. 2 spot in the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, an Alpine entrepreneur with no Olympic experience.

Fraser Bullock, a partner in a Utah County venture capital firm, has agreed to take the job of chief operating officer with SLOC. His appointment must be approved by the SLOC Management Committee, which meets Thursday.In a letter to members of both the management committee and the SLOC Board of Trustees, Romney acknowledged that finding someone with Olympic experience "would have been a plus."

But Romney, who also comes from a business background, noted that the bosses of the Summer Games in Atlanta and Los Angeles didn't have any Olympic experience.

It was the same point Romney made last week during a three-hour discussion with U.S. Olympic Committee Executive Director Dick Schultz. Schultz and others had urged Romney to hire someone with an Olympic background.

"We were talking about the pros and cons of one versus another," Schultz said. "I expressed my interest in having someone in that position who has experience in putting together a multi-sport event."

Still, Schultz said Tuesday he wasn't surprised Romney went with someone he's known for 18 years and worked with at both Bain & Co., a consulting firm, and later, Bain Capital.

"I respect his judgment," Schultz said. "My only concern is, the Olympic Games are sport. The success of the Games will depend on how well the venues function and how well those Games carry on."

Schultz said more emphasis may need to be placed on sports, possibly promoting sports director Cathy Priestner Allinger. Romney has already agreed to allow more USOC experts in sports and other areas to work for SLOC.

IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch also said in an interview with Utah media earlier this year that he'd like to see someone with an Olympic background take over the 2002 Winter Games.

Local officials picked up the same theme, too. "The thought when we hired Romney was we would have someone like that," trustee Nolan Karras said. Karras is Gov. Mike Leavitt's representative on the SLOC board.

Reached Tuesday morning, Karras said he hadn't yet heard about Romney's pick for the No. 2 job. But Karras said he was "pleased with what (Romney's) doing, so I'm going to be supportive."

SLOC Chairman Bob Garff said it was difficult to find someone with both a strong business background that would fit into the organization under Romney and Olympic experience.

"I think it would be nice to have someone with all the credentials and all the experience," Garff said. "The talent pool is tiny. . . . There aren't many people with Olympic backgrounds."

Garff said SLOC could end up hiring Olympic experts as consultants, possibly including some of the past Games officials that Romney talked with such as Roger Jackson from the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, Canada.

Bullock does have a tie to Calgary -- that's where he was born. He was on a flight Tuesday morning and unavailable for comment, but his business partner and another longtime friend said Bullock's up for the challenge.

"It's great for the Olympics," said Brent Robinson, who, along with Bullock, is one of the five partners in Alpine Consolidated, a 3-year-old venture capital firm located in Alpine.

"I think Fraser will do a great job there. He's going in with a mindset of wanting to be helpful. He has no other agenda," Robinson said. "Fraser feels a commitment to help" Romney.

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Alpine Consolidated specializes in business consolidation transactions. According to Romney's letter, Bullock earns a multimillion-dollar income.

Romney told trustees "the fit between our needs and Fraser's capabilities is exceptional. . . . My confidence and trust in Fraser's capability will permit me to take the more active external marketing and community roles SLOC will require."

Romney said he considered "numerous qualified candidates, including sports executives, several women and individuals from other countries." He said he would have favored someone who brought more diversity because "another white male Mormon wasn't first preference."

Bullock lives in Alpine with his wife, Jennifer, and five children.

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