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SBD/Issue 34/Leagues & Governing Bodies
New LPGA Commish Michael Whan Shows Desired Attributes
Published October 29, 2009
|Writer Says Whan Appears
To Be Earnest, Approachable
SOLID BACKGROUND: In N.Y., Larry Dorman writes Whan "brings to the LPGA a demonstrated ability on the business side of sports." Whan: "If you look at my background and the brand growth that I’ve been lucky enough to be part of and lead, they all started with businesses that would have said the same things -- that there are a lot of challenges and opportunities and obstacles." Whan said he plans to be "smart enough to be quiet for 60 or 90 days and to really listen to the different player constituencies and board members, people who have more knowledge than I do as it relates to the LPGA right now." Dorman notes Whan is an "experienced marketer who began his business career at Procter & Gamble, where he rose to manage the Crest toothpaste brand before the age of 30." Whan "learned about the business of golf at Wilson Golf and later at TaylorMade Adidas Golf North America." TaylorMade-adidas Golf President & CEO Mark King: "The guy is literally a superstar, in my opinion" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/29). LPGA BOD Chair Dawn Hudson said that the tour "needed a commissioner familiar with the sports business -- even if that experience didn't come working for a league." Hudson: "At this particular time, with the struggles that all sports have had and some of the controversy of the past year, we really need a commissioner who can hit the ground running" (AP, 10/28).
BRAND BUILDER: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's John Paul Newport writes Whan's past history suggests that the "three most important issues for the troubled tour are brand, brand and brand." Whan yesterday said his top priority will be to "grow the global brand," and his second priority will be "connecting the LPGA brand with other corporate brands in partnerships." He added that his third priority "will be building pride -- pride in the LPGA brand." Meanwhile, Newport writes LPGA Acting Commissioner Marty Evans and the BOD "did a remarkable job of keeping secret Mr. Whan's pole position for his new job." His name "never surfaced publicly, but he fits the criteria that the Tour laid out even beyond brand building: business experience in golf or a sports company, an ability to build consensus in a high profile environment and a passion for and understanding of the game itself and relationships within the golf industry" (WSJ.com, 10/29). Golf Channel's Adam Barr noted Whan has experience in golf brand-building and endorsements and said, "Upper-level executives who have worked with Whan in golf told me today that he's the man with the skills and the drive to weave all these threads together. Expect him to be a tough and savvy business negotiator who brings innovative ideas, but still makes everyone in the meeting room feel comfortable and energized" ("Golf Central," Golf Channel, 10/28). Golfer Helen Alfredsson said that one of Whan's first jobs is "to reassure players that the LPGA is headed in the right direction." Alfredsson: "To get the players' confidence (is important), because that is something that's been on the low side" (GOLFWEEK.com, 10/28).