SBD/Issue 236/Sports Industrialists

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  • Univ. of Akron Officially Announces Tom Wistrcill As New AD

    Wistrcill Will Begin His Duties At
    UA In Second Half Of September
    The Univ. of Akron (UA) yesterday officially announced Univ. of Minnesota (UM) Senior Associate AD for External Relations TOM WISTRCILL as the school's new AD, according to Tom Gaffney of the AKRON BEACON JOURNAL. Wistrcill will not start his duties at UA "until the second half of September." Wistrcill's "sales and marketing background was put to extensive use" on UM's TCF Bank Stadium, and he "will be expected to bring his expertise in sales and marketing to sell tickets and attract sponsors in the future." Wistrcill before going to UM in '06 spent three years at the Univ. of Wisconsin as Badger Sports Properties GM (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 8/26). Wistrcill yesterday "did not shy away from the possibility of Akron someday leaving the Mid-American Conference." Wistrcill: "I think it's important to position ourselves to be attractive to other conferences. That means we're winning and we're doing well. The conferences are going to change. The landscape is going to continue to change. That's just the way it is going to work. So we need to be in great position" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/26).

    WHY NOT LOOK INSIDE? In Akron, Patrick McManamon questions whys UA Exec Senior Associate AD HUNTER YURACHEK was passed over for the AD position, noting the “message is confusing.” Yurachek has "done an excellent job" and he is "respected by the coaches at UA, liked by his peers and employees, and known in the community." Also, like Wistrcill, Yurachek is 39 years old and "has 17 years experience in intercollegiate athletics." McManamon: "Wouldn't it make sense that the university would want to promote its own, especially one who wants to put down roots in the area?" However, UA President LUIS PROENZA "cited several factors in hiring Wistrcill." Proenza: "The range of Tom's experience. The breadth as we say." McManamon noted UA used Dallas-based Eastman & Beaudine Inc. to conduct its AD search (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 8/26).

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  • Veteran Marketer Justin Johnson Lands New Job With Islanders

    Justin Johnson Taking
    Islanders Marketing Gig
    Veteran league marketer JUSTIN JOHNSON has landed his first team marketing gig. The former NBA, NASCAR and MLB corporate salesman is joining the Islanders next week as Senior VP/Corporate Partnership Marketing. Johnson will report to Islanders President CHRIS DEY. "Justin's contacts reach across sports and other businesses, and his experience will also help as we rebuild off the ice with our Lighthouse Project," said Dey, referring to team owner CHARLES WANG's proposed 150 acre, $3.7B development that would renovate the Islanders' home rink and add a hotel, sports complex, convention, conference and exhibition facilities, along with office space, retail and residential units. Johnson joined the NBA in January as VP/Team Marketing & Business Operations. He was CMO of Indianapolis-based sports agency Just Marketing from '07-08. Before that, he was Managing Dir of Partnership Marketing in NASCAR's N.Y. office. Johnson worked in sponsorship sales at MLB for six years before joining NASCAR in October '03. "I loved what I was doing for the NBA, but it was a very consultative role," said Johnson. "Having some skin in the game is an altogether different proposition." Johnson's departure from the NBA continues a pattern of former NBA team marketing and business operations execs landing top club jobs. Other alums include MSG Sports President SCOTT O'NEIL, English soccer club Derby County President & CEO TOM GLICK and Pirates Exec VP & CMO LOU DEPAOLI.

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  • Executive Transactions

    The UFL today announced outgoing Northwestern Univ. President HENRY BIENEN has been named Chair of the league's BOD. Bienen will oversee the BOD, which is comprised of the team owners and UFL Commissioner MICHAEL HUYGHUE (UFL)....Coca-Cola named former AFL Dir of Regional Partnerships MICHAEL STEWART Sales Development Manager, based in New Orleans (THE DAILY)....Blue Sky Sports & Entertainment, LLC named ERIN PERRON Dir of Events & Marketing, based in Boston (THE DAILY)....An NHL source confirmed that NHL Senior VP & Dir of Officiating STEPHEN WALKOM is "leaving his position to attempt a comeback as a referee" (, 8/25)....HorsePower Sports Marketing has hired JACK HEILIG as a PR consultant (HorsePower)....Temple Univ. has hired Northern Arizona Univ. Assistant Media Relations Dir KAREN AUERBACH as Associate Dir of Athletic Communications (Temple)....The Greensboro Sports Commission (GSC) named former Greensboro College AD KIM STRABLE President, replacing MARC BUSH (GSC).

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  • Names In The News

    Wirtz Claims State Leaders
    Violated Illinois Constitution
    Blackhawks Chair and Wirtz Beverage Group President ROCKY WIRTZ yesterday filed a lawsuit in Cook County (IL) Circuit Court claiming Illinois Gov. PAT QUINN and "other state leaders violated the Illinois Constitution when they passed legislation to increase taxes on alcohol and expand gambling to fund" a $31B public works program (, 8/26). Wirtz said that his objection is to the "haphazard and hurried way lawmakers crafted the program." Wirtz: "There were no public hearings. It reminds you of the little Dutch boy putting his finger in the dike" (, 8/25).

    BOOK SHELF: In Dallas, Rick Gosselin wrote, "THE SCORE TAKES CARE OF ITSELF," a book by late Pro Football HOFer Bill Walsh, author STEVE JAMISON and Walsh's son CRAIG, is "one of the best football books I've ever read." Gosselin predicted the book will "wind up on the bookshelves of most football coaches -- high school, college and pro" -- as Walsh has "tremendous insights into what makes a championship team" (, 8/25)....Hornets G CHRIS PAUL's new book, "CHRIS PAUL: NEVER TOO SMALL TO DREAM BIG," will be released on September 22 (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 8/26).

    LIFE'S A BEACH: Last night's edition of ABC's "Shaq Vs." featured Cavaliers C SHAQUILLE O'NEAL challenging AVPers MISTY MAY-TREANOR and KERRI WALSH to a game of beach volleyball. O'Neal and his partner, AVPer TODD ROGERS, played May-Treanor and Walsh on the AVP court in Hermosa Beach, California. O'Neal trained with Olympians Rogers, PHIL DALHAUSSER, DAIN BLANTON and ERIC FONOIMOANA prior to the match. O'Neal and Rogers lost the match, forcing O'Neal to walk down the beach wearing a small pink bikini Speedo ("Shaq Vs.," ABC, 8/25).

    NAMES: The LPGA Tour Championship, which will take place November 19-22 at The Houstonian Golf & Country Club, has "selected Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital as the primary benefiting charity from the tournament." The hospital will "provide on-course first aid for patrons and medical support for the LPGA players" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 8/26).....Former AFL Destroyers Owner JIM RENACCI Monday filed initial paperwork to run as a Republican candidate for the U.S. House seat in the "highly contested" 16th Congressional district in northeast Ohio (AP, 8/25)....Tennis players ANDY RODDICK and SERENA and VENUS WILLIAMS will "host the Heineken-sponsored US Open kickoff party Friday night at Skyline Studio on West 36th Street" in N.Y. (N.Y. POST, 8/26)....Former tennis player MARTINA HINGIS will appear on the newest season of BBC1’s “Strictly Come Dancing,” which starts next month (, 8/25)….Mets P FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ has bought a six-bedroom, 6.5-bathroom Colonial home in Upper Brookville, New York, for $2.3M. The asking price was $2.59M (, 8/25).

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