SBD/Issue 204/Leagues & Governing Bodies

LPGA Names Marty Evans Acting Commish; Search Committee Named

Evans To Serve As
LPGA Acting Commissioner
The LPGA named BOD member Marty Evans as the tour’s acting commissioner, replacing Carolyn Bivens, who formally resigned her post after a tumultuous week that began with a group of players asking Bivens to step down. Evans, a retired Naval officer, is in her first year on the BOD and will hold the acting title while a formal search is conducted by executive search firm Spencer Stuart and the LPGA’s newly formed Executive Search Committee. The committee will be led by BOD member Leslie Greis and includes BOD member Bill Morton and player directors Juli Inkster and Helen Alfredsson. Inkster yesterday told multiple media outlets that the formal search could take three to five months to complete. The LPGA also announced some changes to its executive ranks and BOD. Former LPGA CMO Bill Susetka, whose job was eliminated this past January as part of a restructuring, will take Evans’ place on the BOD. LPGA Senior VP/Worldwide Sales Zayra Calderon has been promoted to Exec VP/Tournament Development & Worldwide Sales, and will expand her sales focus from LPGA-owned events to the entire LPGA calendar. She will retain her title as CEO of the Duramed Futures Tour. Retired golfer Annika Sorenstam will also play a role in the coming months as an advisor to the BOD, though her late term pregnancy is expected to limit her involvement (Jon Show, SportsBusiness Journal). In N.Y., Hine & Dorman cited a source as saying that Bivens “originally planned to fight efforts to force her out through the LPGA board of directors … but changed her mind when presented" with the letter requesting her resignation (N.Y. TIMES, 7/11).

CRUCIAL TIME FOR NEW LEADER: Golfer Suzann Pettersen, one of 15 players who earlier this month signed and submitted a letter calling for Bivens to resign, said, “This is probably a very crucial time for a new commissioner to step in. There’s a big job to do, so it’s got to be a pretty qualified person who steps into that position. ... This is a time when the commissioner, or whoever steps in, needs to make some adjustments for the tour for us to survive. We can’t keep going like we have been.” Pettersen added of Bivens being “unwilling to negotiate with sponsors to lower their costs” of putting on tournaments, “Maybe the biggest kind of loss has been we haven’t adjusted to what the world’s kind of facing. … Maybe we’ve been playing too tough and kind of cutting too many out instead of dropping down on the price and making everybody happy” (N.Y. TIMES, 7/13). Inkster yesterday said of the search for a permanent replacement for Bivens, "We want to take our time and find the right person to fill this job, and you can’t do that on a whim” (THEGOLFCHANNEL.com, 7/12). Golf Channel's Charlie Rymer said, "It’s a tough business environment out there. They’ve got to get moving quickly to get this taken care of so the LPGA can move forward" ("Golf Central," Golf Channel, 7/12).

Orender Seen As Potential
Candidate For LPGA Post
NEXT ON THE TEE: Sports industry execs last week offered their ideas on potential candidates to replace Bivens. Some suggestions, in alphabetical order, were: former MillerCoors Dir of Sports & Entertainment Marketing Dockery Clark; Nike Golf President Cindy Davis; CAA Sports Media Ventures partner Alan Gold; Octagon Golf Co-Managing Dir Chris Higgs; USGA CMO Barry Hyde; WNBA President Donna Orender; Univ. of Texas women’s AD Chris Plonsky; PGA Tour Senior VP/Business Development Jon Podany; former Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management Senior VP Paula Polito; and NBA President of Global Marketing Partnerships & Int’l Business Operations Heidi Ueberroth (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/13 issue). In Jacksonville, Garry Smits noted Orender is “on the top of the list” to replace Bivens. Orender worked with the LPGA for 17 years, and golfer Mark McCumber said, “She’d be great. She knows the golf industry from being with the Tour all those years, and for the last five years, she’s been running a professional women’s sports league, which obviously gives her an advantage over other candidates.” Smits notes other candidates could include former players Nancy Lopez, Judy Rankin and Jan Stephenson (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 7/11). Golf World's Ron Sirak said of replacing Bivens with a former player, "If they do go that route, they’re going to need to bring in a strong deputy who’s got a business background because the player will sort of be functioning as a glad-hander in a lot of ways, somebody to go out and do the schmoozing that you need to do with the sponsors. But, you also need somebody who knows how to get those contracts done” (“Golf Central,” Golf Channel, 7/10).

POLARIZING FIGURE: In N.Y., Hank Gola wrote Bivens, a “marketing person at heart, has certainly been a polarizing figure since she took over from Ty Votaw in the fall of 2005 and instituted a bold business plan called ‘Vision 2010.’” But even though it is “too late, Bivens still has her supporters -- Christina Kim thinks the Commissioner did everything ‘in the best interests of the LPGA Tour,’ while former U.S. Open champ Hollis Stacy flew in from Denver to try to talk young players into their senses.” Stacy “feels that without Bivens’ aggressive approach, LPGA players will forever be second class citizens” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/12). However, YAHOO SPORTS’ Brian Murphy wrote, “I’d prefer to think the players are making the right move. If the right commissioner negotiates smaller purses and keeps more golf on the schedule, they will be seen as visionaries who saved their sport” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/12).

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