SBD/Issue 197/Sports Industrialists

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  • Former NFL Licensing Chief Jim Connelly Hired By WWE As Senior VP

    Connelly Will Assume New
    Role On July 13
    Former NFL licensing chief JIM CONNELLY is joining World Wrestling Entertainment in a similar capacity. Connelly will become WWE’s Senior VP/Consumer Products on July 13 and will oversee the Stamford, Conn.-based wrestling circuit’s global licensing, home entertainment, and publishing businesses. “Jim’s definitely the right person for the job,” said WWE COO DONNA GOLDSMITH, whose promotion from Senior VP/Consumer Products in December ‘08 created the vacancy that Connelly is filling. “His international experience, his knowledge, and his connections across consumer products will be a great asset to us and help take our businesses to the next level." Connelly spent 25 years with the NFL, most recently as Managing Dir of NFL Europe. He was also the NFL’s Senior VP/Consumer Products from ‘93-98, and also held the title of VP/NFL Int’l. Last March, he founded The Convergence Network, a sports-specific executive search, recruitment and career counseling firm, with former NFL Properties teammates JIM SCHWEBEL and TOM RICHARDSON. Connelly’s new job marks the hiring of another former league exec to a senior slot by WWE, which brought in former USTA, XFL, and NBA marketer MICHELLE WILSON as Exec VP/Marketing earlier this year. Goldsmith is another former NBA exec.

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  • What I Like.... With Pro Billards Player Ewa Mataya Laurance

    HOF Pool Player, ESPN
    Analyst Ewa Mataya Laurance
    In our continuing series, SportsBusiness Daily/SportsBusiness Journal asks top sports personalities for their thoughts, ideas, aspirations and likes. Today, HOF pool player, World Champion trick-shot artist and ESPN analyst EWA MATAYA LAURANCE.

    What I like in an insight: The tougher the climb, the more rewarding the view.

    An influential person in my career: My daughter. She inspires me to work harder and is a constant reminder that I need to always be the role model.

    An out-of-the-box idea: Women's pool on ESPN.

    A timeless idea: Always try to do the right thing, whatever that means to you at that time.

    A business deal: A handful of women pool players negotiating a contract with ESPN and securing more than half of the major companies in the billiard industry to create the WPBA Classic Tour. An improbable concept that is alive and well 14 years later.

    A sports facility: Wrigley Field, Boston Billiard Club.

    A sports promo: Bobbleheads.

    An ad: American Express' "Don't leave home without it."

    A business decision: A sneaker company making golf clubs (Nike).

    Laurance Likes E*Trade Talking Baby Ads
    A TV ad campaign
    : The E*Trade talking babies.

    A print ad campaign: PETA's "Be comfortable in your own skin."

    A hire: The Bulls hiring VINNY DEL NEGRO as head coach.

    A brand: Brunswick.

    A trend: Going green.

    A pro league or team business initiative: The players of the Women's Professional Billiard Association taking charge of our own destiny to create, promote and run the WPBA Classic Tour in spite of the numerous critics at the time.

    A competitor's idea: Mac.

    A story that bears watching: USA soccer.

    An idea or invention I wish I had thought of: Liquid resistant pool table cloth.

    Laurance Would Like To Caddy
    For Tiger Woods At The Masters
    A fantasy job
    : Caddying for TIGER at Augusta (Can I use a pull cart?).

    What I like about my job: Everything! I get to compete, entertain and travel around the world while meeting and inspiring people from all walks of life.

    My sport: The fact that there's only me and the table, no excuses.

    Sports: How it challenges and encourages you to improve and to reach higher.

    Sports business: Opportunities to expand, grow and envision. The business of sports is limitless when it comes to creativity.

    Sports media: The feel-good stories.

    Sports technology: That it allows me to drive the ball 200 yards plus!

    Pro sports: Being, watching, dreaming, striving to be the best of the best.

    College sports: The hunger and pure passion of college athletes.

    Competing: The rush.

    The future (or direction) of sports business: Paying attention to the next generation.

    Sports fans: Their loyalty.

    What I would like to change in my sport: More prize money.

    See less in my sport: Less preconceived notions about pool from people who don't even know the sport.

    See more of in sports business: Responsibility and awareness of impact on kids.

    See less of in sports: Cheating.

    See less of in sports business: Purely money-driven decisions.

    Reinvent: The wheel.

    Reintroduce: Straight Pool.

    Eliminate: Speed Pool.

    What I don't like in general: Preconceived notions.

    Laurance Wants People To Understand,
    Appreciate Game Of Billiards
    Pet peeve
    : The fact that most people don't understand and appreciate what an intelligent, beautiful, fascinating, yet difficult game billiards is.

    In sports: Money having such a big role in school sports.

    In my sport: Hustling.

    In business: Dishonesty.

    In media: In-your-face television hosts.

    In technology: When it compromises the game's integrity.

    In sports marketing: Exploitation.

    In sports facilities: Dirty restrooms.

    In sports journalism: Being misquoted.

    About sports fans: When they forget that in the end, it's just a game.

    What I like in people: Who make me laugh.

    That would surprise those who know me: I've become a Facebooker.

    Above all else: My family!

    About myself: I'm a hard worker.

    Hero: BONO.


    Teams: Blue Devils, Yankees, Brynas (the hockey team from Gavle, Sweden).

    City: Stockholm, Chicago and Charleston, S.C.

    Laurance Lists Her Brunswick Montibello
    Pool Table As A Favorite Possession
    : My Brunswick Montibello table.

    Memento: The gold medal from my first European Championship.

    Time of year (because): Spring. The weather is perfect for golf during the day, and for playing pool at night.

    Music: Pretty much anything.

    Books: Ditto.


    Magazines: Self, Newsweek, People, Vanity Fair.

    Web sites:,,,

    Blogs: Not into it.

    Gadgets: My Blackberry.

    Chores: Cleaning house, feeding the horses.

    Hobbies: Golf, photography, gardening and playing with my animals.

    Trips: Anywhere! Partial to going home to Sweden for family visits.

    Movies: "Forrest Gump," "The Hustler," "Spartacus," "Slumdog Millionaire."

    TV: "American Idol," "The Daily Show," "The Colbert Report," golf tournaments.

    Concerts: TOM PETTY & the Heartbreakers, Queen.

    Artist: LEIF FORMGREN.

    Food: Sesame-seared tuna.

    Dessert: Pear ice cream.

    Drink: Water, coffee and wine. Not necessarily always in that order.

    Scent: Flora by Gucci.

    Vacation spots: Sweden, Ireland, Scotland, Mexico, South Africa. Pretty much anywhere I can bring my clubs.

    Cars: Volvo (and maybe a Porsche for the weekend).

    Aftershave: Not so much ... though I love Calvin Klein "Escape" on my husband.

    Singer: Tom Petty, DUFFY, SADE.

    Quote: "Don't give up. Don't ever give up" -- JIMMY VALVANO.

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  • Executive Transactions

    Thompson Retiring Today As
    Fox Sports Networks President
    Fox Sports Networks President BOB THOMPSON will retire effective today. Thompson will continue to consult for Fox on a part-time basis for the next year (Fox)....The Wild named AHL Exec VP/Hockey Operations JIM MILL Assistant to GM CHUCK FLETCHER. Mill also will serve as GM for the AHL Houston Aeros, the Wild's affiliate (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 7/1). Meanwhile, Wild amateur scout GLEN SONMOR is retiring after 32 years in the NHL. Sonmor had served as a scout for the Wild since the team's inception in '00. He will continue as WCCO-AM hockey analyst for the Univ. of Minnesota (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 7/1)....The U.S. Bowling Congress (USBC) named Skip Barber Racing Senior VP STU UPSON Exec Dir (USBC)....Anna Neri has returned to XOS Technologies as Dir of PR. Neri was PR manager for XOS Technologies and then JumpTV Sports, which purchased XOS’ Technologies’ broadband network business, from '06-07 before joining Burdock Group Consultants as Marketing Manager (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). 

    EXECS: Gameday Management Group named JOHN GIANTONIO Dir of Business Development. Giantonio will operate the Gameday offices in Dallas (Gameday)....The Univ. of Memphis named Nuggets Dir of Media Relations ERIC SEBASTIAN as Dir of Basketball Operations. Sebastian will focus on day-to-day, off-court operations (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 7/1)....The Elon Univ. athletic department has promoted the following: Dir of the Phoenix Club BRIAN TRACY to Associate AD for External Affairs, Assistant Dir of the Phoenix Club SARAH THOMAS to Dir of Community Relations & Special Events, Assistant Dir of Marketing for Web site Operation MEGAN DONALD to Dir of Web Site Operations and Dir of Ticket Operations MICHAEL JACOBS to Dir of Marketing & Ticket Operations for Athletics (Elon).

    Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to

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  • Names In The News

    Horry (l), Warren Eliminated From
    ABC's "The Superstars"
    Former NBAer ROBERT HORRY and actress ESTELLA WARREN were eliminated from the competition on ABC's "The Superstars" last night. ABC's John Saunders also announced that due to an injury sustained by JENNIFER CAPRIATI, she and her partner DAVID CHARVET would be dropping out of the competition. Show rules state the last team eliminated would replace them, meaning the team of Bills WR TERRELL OWENS and model JOANNA KRUPA are now back on the show ("The Superstars," ABC, 6/30).

    THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT: Producer MINDY AFFRIME and Director SUSAN STREITFELD have wrapped shooting at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon on "GOLF IN THE KINGDOM," a film adapted from author MICHAEL MURPHY's "mystical novel set in Scotland." The book "tells the tale of a young American named Michael who is transformed by a day of golf with a teacher named Shivas Irons at Burningbush Golf Club in Scotland" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/1)....The GMA network in the Philippines Monday confirmed that boxer MANNY PACQUIAO will be starring in a new feature film set to begin shooting in July. The film is tentatively titled, "WAPAKMAN," and will co-star WWE personality BATISTA and singer NICOLE SCHERZINGER (, 6/30).

    Simmons To Be Grand Marshal
    For Honda Indy Toronto Race
    NAMES: Sabres Owner TOM GOLISANO on June 11 announced that he has "joined a business advocacy group called Unshackle Upstate." Officials connected to the group said that Golisano "will give them at least $6[M] to fund new political efforts" (Albany BUSINESS REVIEW, 6/26 issue)....Red Sox DH DAVID ORTIZ is "lending his nickname and backing to Big Papi's, a casual upscale Framingham restaurant on Route 9" outside Boston that is "expected to open in late July." Ortiz is partnering with Classic Restaurant Concepts, which will "rebrand its Metro 9 Steak House into a more casual, but still upscale, eatery" (BOSTON HERALD, 7/1)....Univ. of Wisconsin-La Crosse economic professor MIKE HAUPERT is "one of seven people who have been awarded a research grant from the Society for American Baseball Research." Haupert will study the "determinants of wages in professional baseball for both men and women" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/1)....Red Sox Owner John Henry, who is honeymooning with his wife Linda Pizzuti in South Africa, said on Twitter this morning he had breakfast with former President F.W. de Klerk to discuss TB/HIV initiatives in the country (, 7/1).....Kiss lead singer GENE SIMMONS has been named grand marshal for the July 12 Honda Indy Toronto race. Simmons was "involved in the global marketing of the IndyCar Series for several years through his partnership in Simmons Abramson Marketing" (CP, 6/29)....Lakers Owner JERRY BUSS last weekend entered the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event at the World Series of Poker, finishing 36th out of 95 players (Riverside PRESS-ENTERPRISE, 6/30).

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