SBD/Issue 205/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • Acting LPGA Commish Marty Evans Will Not Stay On Long-Term

    Evans (l) Notes Her First Focus Will
    Concern '10 LPGA Tournament Schedule
    The LPGA yesterday formally announced Marty Evans as acting Commissioner, but Evans said she has "no interest, no intention to serve as the commissioner" on a long-term basis. Evans: "We need someone with new energy who can bring passion and skills and experience, and I will be very happy to facilitate a smooth transition to that individual when selected." Evans noted her first focus will concern the '10 LPGA tournament schedule. Evans: "We want to make sure that we quickly nail that down. But at the same time I want to reach out to fans, particularly develop closer, stronger relationships with the players and look to the future." Evans also said she will visit tournaments that do not have contracts for future years. Evans: "We have a list of some of the highest priority tournaments" (Golf Channel, 7/13). Evans added, "We're going to be really focused, in the near term, on the 2010 schedule. The idea is to turn over, when the new commissioner is selected, an organization that is moving in the right direction." In Jacksonville, Garry Smits notes one of Evans' first tasks will be to "smooth over hard feelings between the LPGA and tournament sponsors, owners and organizers." Evans said that the promotion of LPGA Senior VP/Worldwide Sales Zayra Calderon to Exec VP/Tournament Development & Worldwide Sales "will be an important part of the process." Calderon will "work closely with tournament owners and title sponsors to renew existing events and help create new ones" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 7/14).

    TOURNEY TIME: Evans noted that only 13 events "are locked down for next year," compared with the 30 tournaments on this year's docket. She added that Calderon will be her "point person on negotiations" (USA TODAY, 7/14). Wegmans LPGA co-Chair Jerry Stahl, whose tournament does not have a contract for next year, said the appointment of Evans "will give us a new opportunity to talk with the LPGA and I'm sure it will be positive." Stahl: "We left a proposal with the LPGA and now I expect a sincere effort to put their arms around Rochester and give us a contract" (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 7/14). Gold World's Ron Sirak said, "There are some people who may not have been willing to negotiate with Carolyn Bivens because they thought there weren’t really negotiations there who are going to be willing to go back to the table right now. So, it will be interesting to see what happens” ("Golf Central," Golf Channel, 7/13). Golf Channel's Charlie Rymer said of Evans, "She certainly will command respect, she's very intimate, she's familiar with the players. The players love and respect her, she knows the sponsors, the tournament directors." Annika Sorenstam will serve as an advisor to the LPGA BOD during the transition period, and Rymer noted her presence "seems like a great game plan for the short run and then go on and find a more permanent replacement in the future" (Golf Channel, 7/13).

    Bivens Not Sure "Fair" Has
    Place In Business Vernacular
    LOOKING BACK ON TENURE: Former LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens yesterday gave her first extensive public comments on the situation, and she said of formally resigning the post, "This is not the way that I think anybody wants to leave an organization." When asked if she thought she had been treated fairly, Bivens said, "I grew up in the business world and 'fair,' I'm not sure, has a place in the business vernacular. It's not a word that I use very often." In N.Y., William Rhoden writes Bivens was a "consummate businesswoman and dealmaker who was hired to enhance the LPGA's fortunes with an aggressive approach to raising prize money and changing the mind-set of a sport that survived but didn't necessarily thrive." Bivens was "hired to help the LPGA think big." However, she said that some players had "reservations about hiring a woman." Bivens: "It was controversial among some of the players. They understood the world of sport and especially the world of golf was male-dominated. I found that strange, but a lot of them were up front about that." Rhoden writes Bivens' resignation is a "pronouncement about the perils of competing for dollars in a male-dominated sports landscape and the pitfall of leading an organization in which players have too much control over areas where they have limited expertise." Bivens: "We have a governance issue. How we are run and the constitution of the LPGA is a problem, not just for me, not just for the former commissioners, but for current and former board members. Being an active player and trying to govern an organization don’t go together. They are absolutely counterintuitive. They fight each other" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/14). In Philadelphia, Joe Juliano notes there was no word yesterday on "any details of a settlement reached between the board and Bivens concerning the final 18 months of her contract, which had paid her $500,000 a year" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/14).

    Nike Golf President Cindy Davis Mentioned
    As Possible Candidate To Replace Bivens
    WHO'S GOT NEXT? LPGA BOD Chair Dawn Hudson said the tour wants to find a permanent new commissioner "as fast as we can." Hudson: "It’s minimally a couple of months. We want to be aggressive, but I don’t want to compromise aggressiveness with getting the right person." WNBA President Donna Orender has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the position, and Hudson said, "Since the search committee was only formed last week and the search partner identified yesterday, we really don't have a list yet. But certainly she would be welcome to be on that list as many others would." Golf World's Ron Sirak said he thinks there are "several really strong candidates out there." Sirak added two "really strong people" are Nike Golf President Cindy Davis, who has a "really high-profile job," and Orender. Sirak noted Davis' name has been "mentioned a lot," and Orender has a "strong golf background." Golf Channel's Rymer said he thinks Orender is the "lady for the job." Rymer: "She's got great experience with the PGA Tour, she comes from a golf family, her husband M.G. Orender is the former President of the PGA of America. She's done a wonderful job with the WNBA. I think if the LPGA could get her, it'd be a perfect fit" (Golf Channel, 7/13). Meanwhile, MSG Promotions President and U.S. Women's Open Exec Dir Mimi Griffin said that she "would interview for the LPGA Tour's commissioner position if approached" (Allentown MORNING CALL, 7/14). Hudson said “We want the commissioner to have a proven track record of being a leader of complex organizations, knowing sports, and if those sports could be golf, that’d be ideal” ("Golf Central," Golf Channel, 7/13).

    IMPORTANT DECISION: Sirak said, "I don't think it's an overstatement to say in the 59-year history of the LPGA, the choice of the next commissioner might be the next important decision they've ever had to make" (Golf Channel, 7/13). In Nashville, Joe Biddle writes under the header, "LPGA Must Ace Hire For A Commissioner" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 7/14). In Daytona Beach, Ken Willis writes the LPGA "needed a miracle worker in order to navigate current tides, and while Bivens was by all accounts a worker, she delivered no miracles" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 7/14).

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  • Weiner Calls Maintaining Player Unity Top Priority As MLBPA Boss

    MLBPA General Counsel Michael Weiner yesterday said his top priority for his forthcoming tenure as the union’s Exec Dir is to maintain player consensus -- a notion that has sharply eroded within the labor movements of most other American industries. Weiner said, “I think there’s really only one priority that the executive director of a labor union has, and that is to maintain the cohesiveness, the unity, the solidarity of the membership. To find out what the priorities have and to formulate a strategy for best pursuing those priorities. There’s a lot of other things the union does, and that will be my responsibility to oversee in terms of legal affairs and licensing and business affairs, but there’s really only one priority.” Echoed outgoing MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr, who will leave the post no later than March after more than a quarter century, “Maintaining the trust and confidence of the players is absolutely critical. He does that, and I’m sure he will, and everything will fall into place after that.” Union leaders and a quartet of players yesterday met with media in St. Louis as this represents Fehr’s final All-Star Game on the job. The event is also the first MLB jewel event to occur since Fehr announced his intent last month to retire.

    LOOKING FORWARD: As to the sport’s upcoming round of labor negotiations in '11, Weiner did not get into agenda specifics, but said generally of the upcoming talks, “It will be a challenge." Weiner: "Every round of talks is. And I expect this to be no different.” Asked if open tensions in the current labor situations surrounding the NFL and NBA would influence the baseball talks, Weiner said that would likely come into play more on the management side of the table, particularly as there is some cross-ownership. MLBPA COO Gene Orza, meanwhile, said he expects to maintain his role following Weiner’s formal ascent. “Those of us on staff serve at the pleasure of the executive director, and once Mike takes the job, I will serve at his,” Orza said. Weiner has been unanimously recommended by the union’s executive board to take the Exec Dir job, and the players will vote on the move over the summer. Completion of that step is expected to occur by the end of the season (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). MLB.com's Ian Browne noted both Weiner and Fehr expect the transition "to be seamless." Although many MLBPA members are "already familiar with Weiner, he will formally meet with as many players as he can during these weeks of transition." Several players yesterday indicated that they "look forward to a stable changing of the guard" (MLB.com, 7/13). 

    TOUGH ISSUE TO TACKLE: The AP's Ronald Blum reported several free agents are "pushing the union to file a collusion grievance against teams over their behavior during the free-agent market last winter." Agent Jeff Boris said, "There's a general level of suspicion in the air." The "decision on whether to go ahead with a grievance will be one of the first major decisions for the union" since Fehr announced his retirement. Weiner yesterday said, "The investigation is ongoing but not complete because of things to review. We've had some discussions with the commissioner's office. I'll know more, I think, by the end of the month." Agent Seth Levinson said, "There are too many things that need to be explained. In my experience, there are no coincidences in a monopoly" (AP, 7/13).

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  • WTA Boss Allaster Has Big Shoes To Fill Replacing Larry Scott

    Priority For Allaster Will Be Renegotiating
    Tour's $88M Title Sponsorship Deal With Sony
    New Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Chair & CEO Stacey Allaster faces "several hurdles, including how to continue the success created by her predecessor, Larry Scott," according to Ken Belson of the N.Y. TIMES. During Scott's six-year tenure, which ended June 30 when he became Pac-10 Commissioner, sponsorship revenue "grew sixfold; total revenue jumped two and a half times and prize money" rose 23%. A "big priority" for Allaster will be renegotiating the tour's $88M title sponsorship deal with Sony Ericsson, which expires after next season. Allaster said that she was "encouraged that Sony Ericsson extended its sponsorship of the event in Miami through 2010, and she seemed optimistic about negotiations for renewing the tour sponsorship." Belson notes the Tour is facing "many of the same problems that have hurt other tours, leagues and teams: a slowdown in sponsorship and advertising, weaker attendance and uneven television viewership." However, it has "withstood these economic challenges better than many other sports organizations, partly because its events are spread across the globe and many of them have long-term sponsorship agreements." Allaster: "The sport is holding its own, but it's not recession proof. There's no way to go through this economic crisis and not be affected, but we're weathering the storm" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/14). Scott reportedly earned about $1.5M annually, while Allaster in her role as president made more than $400,000 (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/14).

    CALM DURING THE STORM: Allaster said that the Tour is in a "very strong position to not only weather the [economic] storm, but also prosper." Allaster: "We've got diversified revenue, long-term contracts and the fact we're in 34 different countries helps smooth it out. Being one week a year in a market makes it very special. Consumers are still going to entertainment events and our attendance is flat, so I take that as a real positive compared to how the other leagues are doing" (CP, 7/13). Allaster said, "I'm incredibly fortunate to be inheriting a tour that's in its strongest position it's ever been in. ... We've got our international expansion underway with China and the Middle East. We've got a good financial base and good reserves, and we've got a great product" (WASHINGTONTIMES.com, 7/13). More Allaster: "I'm the right person for this job irrespective of my gender. I've got an excellent foundation and an understanding of this business and I've been working with Larry for 6 1/2 years and have 20 years of great success in our sport. ... That gives me the confidence to be able to work through the issues" (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/14).

    TO LOVE & TO SERVE: ESPN.com's Peter Bodo wrote Allaster's appointment "represents a logical step in implementing the ideas Scott, with great skill and a formidable bargaining ability, managed to weld together into a coherent whole." Allaster's selection, paired with the ATP World Tour's choice of former Nike exec Adam Helfant as Exec Chair & President, underscores the "two contrasting and mutually exclusive philosophies driving" the two tours. Helfant was an "outsider to professional tennis," and the "idea was to recruit someone with sufficiently broad experience that could be transplanted to tennis." However, Allaster "represents the competing philosophy, which call[s] for someone deeply entrenched and familiar with the fame to call the shots." But Bodo wrote the "problem with this approach is that very often its best representatives have been more or less beaten into submission by the 'system,'" making it "hard to think out of the box when you've spent your entire life in it" (ESPN.com, 7/13). TENNIS.com's James Martin wrote there is a "leadership problem in tennis -- and it's the fact that there are no visionaries to steer our wonderful sport in a global economy where the rules of marketing, sponsorship and broadcast rights are changing at a rapid pace." Many lower-level tournaments on both the WTA and ATP World tours are "struggling mightily in this tough economy," so "where are the person(s) to iron out a battle plan and galvanize public opinion?" Helfant's "credentials are impressive, but since taking over the reigns of the men's tour he's kept such a low profile that you could be forgiven for thinking he's in the witness protection program instead of occupying one of our sport's most important positions" (TENNIS.com, 7/13).

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  • Delaware Plans To Allow Betting On NFL Games This Season

    The state of Delaware "intends to allow single-event betting on NFL games" beginning with the '09 season, according to A.J. Perez of USA TODAY. Delaware State Lottery Dir Wayne Lemons said that the state will "allow bettors to wager on the outcome of one game or a parlay of several." The state would join Nevada as the "only states with legal betting on NFL games," and Delaware lawmakers have "not ruled out allowing wagering on other pro and college sports." Under the current plan, the state's three casinos located at horse racing tracks "would be the only places where sports betting is allowed" (USA TODAY, 7/14).

    Writer Feels Upcoming CBA Negotiations With
    NFLPA Will Be Big Challenge For Goodell
    AN UPHILL BATTLE: ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli wrote the ongoing CBA discussions with the NFLPA represent NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's "Mount Everest of a challenge." Goodell during his two-year tenure has "correctly assigned priority status to significant issues such as player behavior, substance abuse, diversity and the NFL's ongoing initiative for further globalizing its product." However, CBA talks take "precedence over everything else, because the absence of an extension, and the work stoppage that might result from it, could produce some dire ramifications." It is "naïve and short-sighted to suggest that even the powerful NFL could quickly recover from a work stoppage," and Goodell is "neither naïve nor short-sighted; if anything, the commissioner is rooted in pragmatism." While Goodell has "done his best to downplay the possibility of a lockout," there has been a "considerable saber-rattling by his constituency, the owners." New NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith has "pretty much relied on the same well-rehearsed mantra: He hopes for a peaceful resolution, but is also prepared for war, if that option is necessary" (ESPN.com, 7/10).

    I OBJECT! In St. Paul, Brian Murphy reports MLB, the NBA and NHL yesterday asked the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to "consider their objections" to Vikings DTs Pat and Kevin Williams using "state law to overturn four-game suspensions for violating the NFL's drug-testing policy." The leagues contend that Minnesota law will "jeopardize their collectively bargained drug-testing programs if the Williamses' ... lawsuit against the NFL proceeds" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 7/14).

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  • Fighting For Approval: UFC 100 Shows MMA Has Mainstream Appeal

    Some Feel Lesnar's (r) Post-Fight Antics
    Hurt Mainstream Appeal Of MMA
    MMA is a sport "on the move" after Saturday's UFC 100 event, which drew a sold-out crowd to the Mandalay Bay Events Center and a $5.1M live gate, according to the Boston Globe's Bob Ryan. The sport is getting "attention in national publications," and results from Saturday's card "were up on the marquee on that ABC headquarters building." UFC is "not going to ever be ... on the par with our big four mainstream sports," but it is "going to be a very prominent niche player for a while because it does appeal to a segment.” UFC 100 is speculated to have earned around 1.5 million PPV buys, and Ryan said, "Those buys are hard to ignore. That’s on the par with some of the great boxing buys" ("PTI," ESPN, 7/13). ESPN's Tony Reali said 1.5 million buys is "approaching De La Hoya territory. That’s approaching Tyson vs. Holyfield. Those are big numbers.” FanHouse.com's Jay Mariotti said UFC is "going to be around," and it is a "sport we’re all going to have to accept." However, heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar after his match Saturday taunted his opponent and insulted a UFC sponsor, and Mariotti said, "They’re hurting their mainstream appeal when the face of your sport is acting like a guy who doesn’t make it a sport." FanHouse.com's Kevin Blackistone added, "If you think this is going to pull in the casual fan, I think you’re not thinking correctly about whatever this sport is" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 7/13). In Sacramento, Bill Bradley writes UFC 100 should have been MMA's "crowning glory,” as the sport “hoped to claim it has passed boxing in the American sports landscape.” However, MMA, which had “taken two steps forward,” now has to “take a step back” due to Lesnar's post-fight antics (SACRAMENTO BEE, 7/14).

    THE NEXT BIG THING: ESPN’s J.A. Adande said having Lesnar as the new face of UFC is a "good thing" for the sport. Adande: "The premier teams in other sports, like the Yankees or the Dallas Cowboys -- people love them or hate them. A lot of people love to hate them, but the sport is always better off when they’re in contention because they drive ratings. I think you have this character now, this evil figure that people are going to relate to one way or the other, but they’re intrigued and the thing is people are recognizable now." Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said, "Here is a guy that was in (professional) wrestling. He does understand entertainment. You may not want that as part of your sport, but he knows that’s the way they’re going to get attention. ... That’s what’s going to rise this sport" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 7/13). In St. Paul, Bob Sansevere writes, “I’m a lot more interested in the UFC because Lesnar is such a colorful character” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 7/14). ESPN’s Colin Cowherd: "It’s leading our show. It helped" ("SportsNation," ESPN2, 7/13). The Boston Globe's Ryan: "If suddenly an outsized personality with some legitimacy ... if he’s the guy that puts you over the top to start, hey, you worry about cleaning up the mess later.” But ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "They don’t want the whole ‘good guy, bad guy’ thing. So maybe that’s not central to it” ("PTI," ESPN, 7/13).

    AS GOOD AS IT WILL GET? CBSSPORTS.com's Ray Ratto wrote under the header, "MMA Will Remain A Niche Sport, And The Niche Is Full." Ratto: "MMA has found its niche, and UFC 100 was the top end of that.” The event was as “big a card as could be constructed,” and UFC President Dana White had “months to make it right.” Ratto: "By most analyses by MMA fans, he did. For those who aren't MMA fans, it doesn’t matter." There is a “ceiling for every sport, and right now the only one that seems to be picking up steam in the U.S. is international pro soccer. ... This, we’d be willing to bet, is MMA’s ceiling” (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/13).

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