SBD/Issue 122/Franchises

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  • WNBA Coach Resigns Amid Sexual Harassment Rumors On Internet

    Overton Resigns As Sky Coach
    Amid Sexual Harassment Rumors
    WNBA Sky GM & coach Bo Overton’s attorney David Little indicated that an Internet message board posting insinuating that Overton "sexually harassed his players resulted in Overton being forced out Wednesday, despite the [Sky] clearing him in an internal investigation,'' according to Tina Akouris of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Little: "Bo is wondering what the hell just happened to him. He was told to resign or be fired. The Sky did an internal investigation and cleared him." Someone on March 7 posted a message on the team's message board, chicagoskytalk.net, that indicated Overton "sexually harassed some players last season." A different poster, who claimed to be a parent of a Sky player, Sunday and Monday wrote that the "allegations were true." Sky President & CEO Margaret Stender Monday posted a message on the board "asking anyone who had any information about the allegations to let her and the Sky front office know about it." Stender: "I'm not at liberty to comment on the information (on the site), and I'm not going to comment on any personnel issues." But Little said that the Sky is "worried about the postings 'hurting their brand name.'" Little: "Rather than censor the (board), they chose to (get rid of) Bo." Sky Owner Michael Alter, when asked about the issue, said, "The decision was made Wednesday, and I'm going to have to give no-comments on that" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/14). Alter: "Our policy is to not comment on personnel decisions. People will have to draw their own conclusions or interpretations" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 3/13). Stender Wednesday added that the online allegations "did not directly lead to Overton's resignation, but she made it clear she took them seriously." Stender: "We unequivocally don't condone any kind of inappropriate conduct, especially related to sexual harassment, so we were really trying to invite input." Sky assistant coach Steve Key was promoted to replace Overton as GM & head coach (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/13).

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  • Mariners' TV Campaign To Debut Sunday On FSN Northwest

    The Mariners Thursday unveiled the team's '08 TV campaign, via Copacino & Fujikado, Seattle, which features 17 players in 7 commercials. The spots will air during Sunday's Brewers-Mariners Spring Training game on FSN Northwest and will run throughout the season on local and regional broadcasts and cable channels (Mariners). In Seattle, Jon Naito reports the seven 30-second ads, which were filmed in February at the start of Spring Training in Arizona, include the following: SS Yuniesky Betancourt performing magic tricks; DH Jose Vidro revealing a secret; 3B Adrian Beltre showing off his defense; P Felix Hernandez and a hidden talent; RF Ichiro Suzuki "in a wink at his unique sartorial sense;" P J.J. Putz and C Kenji Johjima celebrating the fungo bat; and LF Raul Ibanez conducting orientation for new P's Erik Bedard and Carlos Silva. The spots also feature Mariners coaches and GM Bill Bavasi in the "familiar, humorous vein that has made the spots popular among fans since their inception in 1994.'' Washington-based Director Ron Gross led the production staff, which had "only three days to film." Mariners Dir of Marketing Gregg Greene: "We sent out an e-mail last night to the subscribers of Mariners Mail (the team's newsletter to fans) and gave them a sneak peak. Overnight, we had more than a thousand people voting for their favorites. People love them" (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 3/14).

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  • Heat Owner Arison Says Riley's Future In His Own Hands

    Arison (l) Says Riley Will Decide His
    Future As Head Coach Of Heat
    Heat Owner Micky Arison said that President & coach Pat Riley's future as head coach "does not need [to] be addressed now," but acknowledged that he trusts Riley "will make the right decision for himself and the organization," according to Sarah Rothschild of the MIAMI HERALD. Arison: "He's going to do what is best for the team. If he thinks that it's best for him to continue to coach, I have no problem with that. If he thinks that it's time for him to step back and put somebody else (behind the bench), I'll have no problem with that. We'll sit down after the season and talk about it."

    WADE: Rothschild writes one question that no longer looms is "whether the Heat should shut down" G Dwyane Wade, who Tuesday had a nonsurgical procedure to help relieve tendinitis in his left knee, leaving his physical activity "limited" for the next month. Arison: "I'm happy he's taking the rest of the season off. I think it was the right decision." Arison added that he is "not concerned about Wade competing'' in this summer's Beijing Olympics, adding that he supports Wade's decision to participate in the Games. Arison: "We hope he brings back a gold medal."

    LOTTO: The Heat also are hoping to select a "franchise-changing player'' in June's NBA draft. Arison said that the pick will be the team's "most important draft choice since selecting" Wade in '03. The Heat (11-52) are "on pace to have the worst record in team history, eclipsing the 15-67 record" of its inaugural '88-89 season. Arison, referring to the possibility of finishing with a franchise-worst record, said, "I could care less. I would like to win every game, but I would like the Ping Pong balls to fall right" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/14).  

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  • Broncos Execs Take On New Roles In Wake Of Sundquist Departure

    Broncos Execs Taking On New Roles
    Following Sundquist's Departure
    The Broncos' plan in the aftermath of the departure of GM Ted Sundquist "calls for a team-oriented approach, with [coach Mike] Shanahan again having final say," according to Rasizer & Legwold of the ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS. The organization "privately bristled Thursday at the notion of chaos" within their franchise, "even if no one would speak publicly" about Sundquist's departure. Rasizer & Legwold note the feeling behind the scenes "appeared to be things should be calmer" despite the bad timing of Sundquist's exit. Dir of Player Personnel Jim Goodman "lacks the [GM] title but will have his hands all over the pro and college scouting process," and his son, Assistant GM Jeff Goodman, will "put his law degree to use in contract negotiations." Broncos COO Joe Ellis seems "poised to take charge of the video, training and equipment staffs under" the new structure, and Dir of Football Administration Mike Bleum will "continue monitoring the salary cap." Sundquist had "handled many of those duties.'' On the surface, it "would be simple" to call the changes "another power play by a coach who essentially has free rein, answering to no one but [Owner Pat] Bowlen, who rarely gives him the red light." From the club's view, however, the additions "were meant to lighten the load" as Sundquist was "seen as resistant of that change." It appears Shanahan was "frustrated by what he perceived as a lack of strong conviction by Sundquist" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/14).

    REAX: In Denver, Mike Klis writes the tension between Shanahan and Sundquist "was becoming increasingly palpable throughout the organization." Shanahan "ultimately felt the friction was detrimental to the team's ability to conduct business. Not that this strain was Sundquist's fault. But the strain had to be alleviated" (DENVER POST, 3/14). Also in Denver, Bernie Lincicome writes the dismissal of Sundquist "means little in the big picture." Lincicome: "Sundquist generally managed the Broncos in the same way that a flight attendant flies an airplane." At some point, however, Shanahan "is going to have to be held responsible for what the Broncos are, and these days they are NFL afterthoughts" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/14). The DENVER POST's Mark Kiszla writes of Sundquist's departure: "That's not a football team in transition. It's an NFL organization plagued by turmoil. ... The finger of blame must be pointed at Shanahan." Kiszla: "No matter how much he loves his coach, [Bowlen] should begin to wonder if Shanahan causes more turmoil than he solves" (DENVER POST, 3/14). NFL Network’s Marshall Faulk: “I never knew of a head coach to fire a GM, but obviously, there’s a fall guy. ... How can you give a head coach everything that he wants and the guy that loses his job is the GM?” (“NFL Total Access,” NFL Network, 3/13).

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  • Franchise Notes

    In Nashville, John Glennon reports the Predators, in the last eight home games, have recorded "three sellouts and three more crowds of 15,600 or better." While some of those crowds "include complimentary tickets, as opposed to strictly paid-for tickets," the team seems "well on its way to cracking the 13,125 paid-attendance average needed to qualify for full NHL revenue sharing" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 3/14).

    PANTHERS: In Charlotte, Charles Chandler reports the Panthers for the '08 season will raise ticket prices from $2-4 per game, or about 4.5%. Panthers Dir of Communications Charlie Dayton said that the range of prices will be from $38-100. Dayton added that the Panthers' average ticket price, believed to be just more than than $63, ranks "in the bottom half of the NFL" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/14). 

    ISLANDERS: The Islanders have partnered with fan message board Islandermania to set up a specific message board solely for the purpose of sharing season tickets with other Islanders fans. The Islanders' Theresa Coscia will be dedicated to working the message board and assisting in matching up fans (Islanders).

    REDS: The Reds Saturday will sell 2,000 tickets at Fountain Square in Cincinnati for the season-opening March 31 D'Backs-Reds game. The sale is the "first of a series of Reds-themed events that have been planned by the team and Cincinnati Center City Development Corp." Reds COO Phil Castellini: "Fountain Square is a Cincinnati icon, as are the Reds. We believe our fans will have fun extending their time downtown on the Square as they enjoy the Red Hot Weekend activities we are developing" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 3/14).

    CUBS: CNBC's Darren Rovell notes the Cubs' auction for season tickets to 71 new "prime seats" sponsored by the Chicago Board of Options Exchange concluded Thursday. The average seat "went for about $22,000,'' which breaks down to $272 per seat per game. Rovell said that "seems like a lot of money, but some might say it's not as much as the Cubs had hoped ... because the dugout seats -- the most expensive face value ticket that the Cubs sell ... sold for $255 a game'' last season ("Closing Bell,'' CNBC, 3/13). 

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