Sunoco Debuts "Essence Of Racing" Campaign Executive Transactions Isiah Thomas Expected Backlash Over Hiring FanDuel Brings On Most Of Zynga Sports Team Georgia Approves Increased Athletic Budget Kentucky Adding Ribbon Boards At Rupp IndyCar Ponders How To Attract Fans Long Term Jeff Gordon Hired As Full-Time Analyst For Fox Danica's Sponsorship Status To Be Telling For NASCAR Classified Advertisements
SBD/Issue 202/Leagues & Governing BodiesPrint All
Bivens Owed Roughly $500,000 Per
Year For Final Two Years Of Contract
ALL IN FAVOR? Golfer Kristy McPherson said she is "in favor ... as the majority is" of Bivens stepping down. McPherson: "Everybody wants the best for the tour and to keep the sponsors happy. I think she's just maybe not going about it in the right way." McPherson added, "A lot of the players out here agree that when we start losing tournaments that have been around here for so long it's not only the economy, and something needs to be done" (Myrtle Beach SUN NEWS, 7/9). Golfer Suzann Pettersen, who signed a letter to the LPGA BOD seeking Bivens' resignation, said, "All we are doing is standing up for our tour. Now it's up to our leadership and our board to find a solution." Pettersen added that the letter was "written on 'behalf of the majority of players.'" However, GOLFWEEK's Beth Ann Baldry reported it is "questionable whether the majority knew about the call for Bivens' resignation." Golfer Christina Kim, one of the seven players on the LPGA BOD, "wasn't invited to the dinner and was unaware of the letter until after the fact." Kim said that she "had no problems with Bivens or been 'witness to anything negative.'" Kim: "I don't believe (our problems are) due to any one person or occurrence. It's a multitude of things." Retired golfer Rosie Jones added, "I hope we're not shooting ourselves in the foot" (GOLFWEEK.com, 7/7). Golfer Lorena Ochoa said of the LPGA BOD, "I believe they will do the best for us, and hopefully things will start, you know, moving in a good direction, because we are worried that we're losing tournaments and we want to get back on a good track" (USA TODAY, 7/9).
DEFENDING THE STATUS QUO: In Jacksonville, Garry Smits reports World Golf HOFers Louise Suggs and Carol Mann yesterday both said that the "player revolt to fire Bivens after fewer than four years on the job is premature in light of the current economic difficulties for all sponsor-driven sports." Mann: "They should have their heads examined. For them to do this, the week before the U.S. Open, is sabotage. The timing of what they're doing is one of the most inappropriate things I've ever seen." Suggs: "When I think of all the years we had to get on our knees and beg for everything, for sponsors, fans, decent courses -- I think Carolyn deserves more of a chance. She's doing the best she can. I don't know who else could do better" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 7/9).
Corning Classic Among Events
Lost During Bivens' Tenure
BIVENS OVERPLAYED HER HAND: ESPN.com's Bob Harig wrote Bivens, in her "zest to increase the standards on the LPGA by requiring bigger purses, as well as higher licensing and television fees, may have overplayed her hand." Harig: "Perhaps it would have been better to sign up as many sponsors as possible in these tough times, offering a few deals and perks to get folks on board. Instead, the LPGA Tour is struggling to remain viable" (ESPN.com, 7/8). In Honolulu, Bill Kwon writes the "sagging economy hasn't helped" the LPGA, but if Bivens had "displayed people skills, some of the tournaments as well as some of her staff might still be with us." Instead, sponsors were "turned off, saying enough already." Kwon: "With Bivens, it has always been my way or the highway, even though her ideas more often than not have run into road blocks or dead-ends" (HONOLULU ADVERTISER, 7/9). CBSSPORTS.com's Steve Elling noted the LPGA players "had mostly been her allies until the Kapalua event, set for the fall in Hawaii, bailed last week with four years remaining on the resort's LPGA contract." Elling wrote most observers have "watched the unprecedented scenario play out from dry land with a detached sense of interest and amusement." The biggest question about Bivens' potential departure is, "what took so long?" (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/8). Sirak noted Bivens had a "very ambitious plan to raise pensions for the players, to raise their health coverage, to raise purses for the players." Sirak: "She put into effect this business plan that greatly increased sanctioning fees for the tournaments … and that came just at a bad time. Her whole plan was that '09 would be this springboard year into a new business model for 2010. Now it's turning out to be exactly the wrong time to impose such a plan" ("Outside The Lines," ESPN, 7/8).
WHAT'S NEXT? Golfweek's Baldry said Bivens' replacement, should she resign, needs to be "someone who’s all about partnerships, someone who is well-versed in the golf world and can come in immediately and try to repair these relationships, someone who is very familiar with the situations and the people in play." Baldry: "I would be surprised if it were someone that was right underneath Bivens’ command. It’s got to be someone else from the outside, not someone right underneath her because I would think that would be seen as more of the same” (“19th Hole,” Golf Channel, 7/8).
Writers Feels Lopez (l) Could Be
Good Replacement For Bivens
BLAST FROM THE PAST: USA TODAY's Christine Brennan writes if Bivens resigns, the tour should both pick a "qualified businesswoman to lead the tour," as well as hire World Golf HOFer Nancy Lopez. She could be the "new old face of the tour, with the title of commissioner or president or chairperson, then hire a CEO to run the tour." Lopez "isn't a business whiz, but she is golf's quintessential goodwill ambassador," and she would bring "more than personal warmth to the job." A recent LPGA name-recognition poll had Lopez ranked No. 1, ahead of Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie. Brennan writes the LPGA "might as well draw on its most enduring name for all the help it can get right now" (USA TODAY, 7/9). In Toledo, Dave Hackenberg writes Lopez "would be the perfect commissioner to repair the current state of the LPGA." She would be the "perfect up-front face for the struggling organization and could hire all the business and legal types she needed to handle the technical aspects." Lopez would "effectively represent the tour she loves and its players," and she would "repair the damaged relations between the tour and its sponsors" (TOLEDO BLADE, 7/9).
FIVE-STEP PROCESS: In Newark, Brendan Prunty writes Bivens' resignation "would not be the cure-all that it may appear," as there are "five things that have got to happen first." The U.S. Women's Open, which tees off today, currently is "totally overshadowed" by other sporting events during the summer, so tour officials should "move it to Mother's Day weekend" in May. The LPGA should "nix the current format of the Solheim Cup," which pits the U.S. against Europe, and "make it America against the World." Some of the "best golfers in the world are Asian and yet they are shut out of the Solheim." The tour also should treat the LPGA Championship like the PGA Championship instead of a "bigger weekly tour stop." The LPGA needs to make sure "backbone events" such as the Wegmans LPGA and the Corning Classic are on the schedule "by whatever means necessary." Prunty: "These are your bread-and-butter fans that show up no matter the economic conditions." Finally, the tour should "embrace Michelle Wie." Prunty: "What the LPGA needs to do is get over itself and hop aboard the Wie Wagon. She's on the level of Tiger or Phil, where no matter where she finishes, it's a major story" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 7/9).
Fegan, Agents Worry Memo
Having Chilling Effect On Market
Current Economic Environment May Force
James To Reconsider Contract Opt Out Plans
NOT BAD NEWS FOR EVERYONE: TRUEHOOP's Henry Abbott wrote the memo had "bad news for the basketball staffs, looking to spend more and more to acquire talent." But he added, "I expect the memo was borderline thrilling to some, including poor teams, many owners and the bean counters who worry about teams' balance sheets" (ESPN.com, 7/8). In Minneapolis, Michael Rand wrote while the decreased cap "appears, at first blush, to be bad news, it could actually be good news" for the T'Wolves. The team projects to be $12-14M under the revised salary cap, "enough to pay a couple role players and make a run at a big ticket free agent" (STARTRIBUNE.com, 7/8).
Weiner Will Not Officially Replace Fehr
Until Exec Board Meets After Season
DRUG TESTING ISSUES: The AP's Ronald Blum reported WADA President John Fahey has urged MLB to "adopt its code, which includes a two-year suspension for an athlete's first positive test." Fahey in a statement yesterday said, "With recent cases, investigations and revelations, including in recently published books, the evidence is indisputable that doping remains an entrenched issue in baseball." But MLB Exec VP/Labor Relations Rob Manfred "quickly dismissed criticism" from Fahey, "calling him 'sadly misinformed.'" Manfred: "It is absurd to suggest that 'recently published books' -- which allege steroid use that occurred years ago -- have any relevance to our current program. As demonstrated by recent events, when a player tests positive, the penalty is public and severe" (AP, 7/8).
STATE OF THE LEAGUE: MLB President & COO Bob DuPuy appeared on Fox Business yesterday to discuss the financial state of the game, which he said "is very good." DuPuy: "Our sponsors, recognizing that baseball provides wholesome value family entertainment, have hung with us." DuPuy discussed Fox selling out the ad inventory for next week's All-Star Game, and said, “The ad sales have been very good. Over 40% of the ads are with our national sponsors. Many of them are going to be doing baseball-themed advertising during the All-Star Game.” He added, "On the local level, the teams are pushing very hard to sell advertising and sell sponsorships, but are doing quite well given the state of the economy." DuPuy said it is a "terrific honor" to have President Obama throwing out the first pitch at the All-Star Game. DuPuy: "It's only the seventh sitting president to attend a Major League Baseball All-Star Game in history and to have him come and throw out the first pitch and focus on the charitable elements that surround the All-Star Game we think is very, very critical" ("Money for Breakfast," Fox Business, 7/8).
The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour BOD is meeting in N.Y. today with search firm Korn Ferry to perhaps select the next leader of the tour, sources said. The board is looking at four candidates: WTA President Stacey Allaster, COO & General Counsel David Shoemaker and two outsider candidates, sources said. Allaster is the heavy favorite for the job, which became vacant June 30 when Larry Scott left the tour to become Commissioner of the Pac-10 Conference. It could not be determined who the two outsiders are. One source said the WTA board feels the search has gone on long enough -- Scott announced his departure in February -- and that the group should have a chief executive in place when the U.S. summer hardcourt season begins next week. It is not certain, however, a choice will be made.
Goodell Came To NFL Promising To
Eliminate Any Tolerance Of Bad Boys
CONQUERING A NEW MOUNTAIN: In Tacoma, Eric Williams reports Goodell and Seahawks coach Jim Mora Jr. yesterday were part of a group that "successfully reached the summit" of Mt. Rainier. Eight of the nine non-guides in the group "made it to the top of Rainier, with one climber having to turn back because of an elbow injury." The group participated in the event "as part of a fund-raiser for the United Way, with Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke convincing Goodell to accept the challenge." Goodell "appeared to come through the climb reasonably well, saying the climb to the summit was more challenging than he thought it would be." Goodell: "You really have to be prepared for this. And it really tests your will. It tested my will quite a few times." Goodell said that he had "never attempted any type of mountaineering before but now has a newfound respect for the skill after climbing Rainier" (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 7/9). Goodell added, "It was amazing. I've never been pushed that hard, both physically and emotionally, and probably mentally. You have to overcome your fear and you have to overcome your doubts of whether you can do it. There were some times on the mountain … that I didn't think I'd be here" (KING5.com, 7/8). Mora: "I can tell you after three days with him ... and watching what he did and what he overcame and some of the fears he had to overcome, he's a pretty special man" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 7/9).
NASCAR is getting into the driving school business. Later this afternoon, NASCAR will announce that it is licensing the driving school that formerly carried Jeff Gordon's name. Robert Lutz, who helped start Richard Petty's driving school in the early '90s, is the man behind the new NASCAR Racing Experience, which formerly was the Jeff Gordon Racing School. The Gordon school officially takes on the NASCAR title July 24. Lutz also runs the Mario Andretti Racing School for open-wheel cars, which he started five years ago. The NASCAR Racing Experience will apparently be similar to the Gordon school, offering passenger rides in the sport's Car of Tomorrow stock cars for $129 and an eight-minute driving experience for $429. Eleven different tracks will be utilized and that number is expected to grow. Similar ride-alongs at the Richard Petty Driving Experience range from $109-135, and its eight-lap driving experience begins at $399 at about 20 tracks. Industry insiders say the NASCAR Racing Experience will also be utilized as an asset by NASCAR's sponsorship and marketing team. As one exec said, it is "part of NASCAR's strategy to create unique assets for its partners" as a way to add value. As for the Petty camp, RPDE is working to renew its license with the sanctioning body, which expired last year. RPDE uses the license for its tagline, "authentic NASCAR entertainment." NASCAR Managing Dir of Licensed Products Blake Davidson said his office will work with both entities. Both licenses for the NASCAR and the Petty racing schools are non-exclusive.
Less Than Half Of Nationwide
Series' Garage Fully Funded
Lobo (l) Says NBA Owners Will Look To
Cut WNBA Before NBA Players' Salaries
CASE SOLVED? In Vancouver, Tony Gallagher notes the NHL is conducting an investigation into comments Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson made before the start of free agency, but "no matter how clear-cut the evidence seems to be in Wilson's radio comments, it's hard to believe much of significance will come of it." The league "clearly does not want to put a large-market team like Toronto further behind than it already is" by stripping them of a draft pick. Most NHL investigations are, "at best, simply a way of the league saying they are putting a potentially disquieting or uncomfortable situation on the back burner with the intention of ignoring it" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 7/9).
FALL OUT OF FAVOR: IRL VP/PR John Griffin yesterday said that the organization is "making every effort" to bring an IndyCar Series race back to Watkins Glen next season. Griffin: "We have no intentions of pulling our event out of Watkins Glen. I cannot be any clearer than that. Nobody can be happier with what we witnessed at the Glen over the weekend. Our drivers love this event. It's an incredible asset to our schedule." The IRL this month is expected to release its '10 schedule, and Watkins Glen President Michael Printup said that the race "would be better served" keeping its spot on Fourth of July weekend, "or on some other mid-summer date, rather than be run in late September," as has been rumored (Elmira STAR-GAZETTE, 7/9).
DOUBLE UP: The European and Asian golf tours have "formed a new joint venture company in a bid to strengthen their bond." EurAsia Golf, which will include reps from both tours on the BOD, will "act as a point of contact for tournament promoters for all co-sanctioned events" (REUTERS, 7/9).