SBD/Issue 136/Sports Industrialists

People In The News: William Wesley A Power Broker In Sports

In N.Y., Pete Thamel profiled Greentree Mortgage broker WILLIAM WESLEY, who has extended a "puzzling and powerful reach throughout sports," and is "known to the people in the know but remains a face in the crowd to most everyone else." Wesley is a "confidant" of Bobcats Managing Member of Basketball Operations MICHAEL JORDAN and a "close friend" of Cavaliers F LEBRON JAMES. Wesley, who has "gained power through his connections," is a "sideline presence from summer basketball games to the NBA finals to the Super Bowl." Thamel: "He has the ear of NBA owners and junior high phenoms alike. He had strong enough ties in the music and sports worlds to introduce James and JAY-Z." Wesley has been "linked with the family of [Memphis G] DERRICK ROSE and to one of the country's top high school players, TYREKE EVANS." Univ. of Connecticut coach JIM CALHOUN: "If someone brought him in for show and tell, I'm not quite sure what Wes would present. It was easy to identify SONNY VACCARO because of Nike and later adidas. It was easy to identify DAVID FALK because of the players he represented. It's difficult to identify Wes, but in some ways he's a power broker of the same scale." Big Ten Commissioner JIM DELANY: "Whether college, professional or youth basketball, shoe companies or media, U.S. or international, I would guess that Wes is as connected as any individual that I've observed. That said, I still don't know much about him." Delany told Wesley that he "would love to have him help Big Ten programs recruit players if he knew for sure that what Wesley was doing was allowed." NCAA Associate Dir of Enforcement LUANN HUMPHREY has "been asking college coaches and administrators about Wesley's role in recruiting for months." NCAA President MYLES BRAND: "Am I concerned about people who have an influence on basketball that one might not consider healthy, leaving aside this one individual? You bet, all the time" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/5).

Fantasy Sports Ventures Founder Says Network
Complementary To Larger Media Sites
FANTASY TALK: In a Q&A with Jack Bell of the N.Y. TIMES, Fantasy Sports Venture Founder CHRISTOPHER RUSSO, whose company operates, said his site’s “competition is bigger media sites.” Russo: “But we’re also complementary to those sites. People play fantasy games at those sites and then they tend to come to us for new, fresh information and analysis.” When asked if the sites in his network have “anything in common” with Facebook or MySpace, Russo said, “In general terms, the users of community-based applications are highly engaged. In the last couple of years, the buzz has been about what’s the social networking application for sports -- the killer app for sports. It really is fantasy sports. But it’s different from Facebook, which to me really is a community of 12, your friends from college. In fantasy sports, you’re playing together in a league, having fun, trash-talking.” When asked why football has “overtaken baseball” in terms of the number of fantasy players, Russo said, “Baseball was the first fantasy sport and, next to football, has the most audience. But with baseball, you need to be on top of your teams and stats every day. It takes a higher level of commitment. Football is more weekly” (N.Y. TIMES, 4/5).

WOMEN'S TOUR NEXT? Outback Champions Series Founder & InsideOut Sports & Entertainment co-Founder JIM COURIER in a Q&A with the BOSTON GLOBE, was asked if he has considered adding a women’s tour to the series. Courier: “The second that we get enough buy-in from the right women, we will attempt to launch one of these, if someone doesn't beat us to the punch. I'm sure it's not a novel idea. It's name recognition. The most attractive thing that I think tennis brings in comparison to other sports at our biggest and best events is men and women competing at the same event. You don't see that in any other sport. And we'd love to be able to have STEFFI GRAF and MONICA SELES and MARTINA NAVRATILOVA and GABRIELA SABATINI and [LINDSAY] DAVENPORT, when she's finished playing in the WTA. We'd love to have them come and play, and the fans would love to see them" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/6).

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