SBD/Issue 76/Sports Industrialists

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  • Packers President Murphy Continues To Guide Team, Looks To CBA

    Packers Treasurer Says Murphy Has
    Worked Out Better Than Anticipated
    Packers President & CEO MARK MURPHY "has been the leader of the Packers for nearly two years," but he "remains a complete unknown to almost everyone outside the locker room of Lambeau Field," according to a front-page piece by Nickel & Walker of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Packers Treasurer LARRY WEYERS: "Mark has worked out even better than we anticipated." Murphy played for the Redskins from '77-84, and players "like the fact Murphy is as passionate for the game as they are." Packers GM TED THOMPSON "believes he's the ideal boss," and members of the Exec Committee "think they chose the right man to lead the Packers." When Murphy, a former AD at Colgate and Northwestern, was hired in '07, "many wondered" how he would "handle running a professional sports franchise." Packers Exec Committee VP PETER PLATTEN said that Murphy has "developed strong relationships with the Executive Committee and key members of the organization." Murphy also has "relied on friendships" with Panthers Owner JERRY RICHARDSON, Patriots Owner ROBERT KRAFT, Giants co-Owner JOHN MARA and former NFL Commissioner PAUL TAGLIABUE to "navigate his way through his first two years of presidency." In addition, Murphy talks to former Packers Chair & CEO BOB HARLAN "about issues of importance to the Packers and the NFL."

    GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS: Murphy "soon will play a crucial role as an advocate for the team and the NFL in the upcoming negotiations for a new" CBA. Murphy: "The CBA is the biggest issue the league is facing -- and the Packers. I feel fortunate that I am involved in that process as I am." Tagliabue, "who has been a mentor to Murphy dating to Murphy's days as a former players union lawyer, agrees Murphy is well-suited to help current Commissioner ROGER GOODELL" with the CBA. Tagliabue: "Mark has lots of experience and attributes that will serve him well on the negotiating team, including his understanding of the competing and conflicting points of view on the two sides of the table, and his ability to reach across the divide and talk with people who also understand both perspectives that can eventually lead to sensible compromises and consensus." Nickel & Walker noted Goodell "appointed Murphy to the 10-member Management Council Executive Committee, the bargaining team that represents the owners in the league's negotiations for a new" CBA. Murphy: "I can see things from both sides. I think it's been helpful in some of the sessions. I can certainly relate to what the players' concerns are. But I also have seen it from an owner's perspective as well, or a management perspective" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 1/3).

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  • Phil Knight Puts 20 Million Shares Of Nike Stock Into Three Trusts

    Knight Puts Nearly One-Quarter Of
    His Stake In Nike Into Three Trusts
    Nike Chair PHIL KNIGHT "has kicked into serious estate-planning mode," and last week "gave 20 million shares of his company's stock, worth about $1.32[B], to three trusts in his name," according to Brent Hunsberger of the Portland OREGONIAN. According to Nike's filing with the SEC, the person overseeing the trusts is PAT KILKENNY, who served as the Univ. of Oregon (UO) AD when Knight donated $100M to the athletics department in '07. The filing "does not say who ultimately will benefit from the trusts." Estate-planning attorneys said that the move is a "common way wealthy individuals pass on their fortunes to heirs while reducing their tax liability and still earning income from the assets." Knight, who will turn 72 in February, has sold Nike stock on a "fairly regular basis in the past, including about 5 million shares in October." But this is his "largest single move, representing nearly one-quarter of his stake" in Nike. Knight "still owns 65 million shares worth about" $4.3B (Portland OREGONIAN, 12/31).

    KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR: In Portland, John Canzano wrote of Knight, "Love him or loathe him, you can't ignore that [UO] could not sustain what they've done over the past decade in conference play without Knight. His influence is valuable, and significant and Oregon certainly wouldn't be in position to strike again in a BCS game in the near future without his continued support." Knight has "contributed the biggest share of the money" for the school's $90M Autzen Stadium expansion, his name is on the campus library, and his late son Matthew's name "will go on the Ducks basketball arena, which was made possible by a $100[M] pledge from Knight." Nike has been "out front with uniform design and marketing, giving Oregon a unique competitive edge" (Portland OREGONIAN, 1/1).

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  • Executive Transactions

    PAT CONNORS, who in October '08 opened a West Coast hub for Fenway Sports Group (FSG) in San Diego, has acquired that office and will relaunch it soon as Gravitate Sports Marketing, with Connors assuming the title of Gravitate President & CEO. Connors, whose background is primarily in the beer industry, will continue to represent FSG on an arm's-length basis, and expand beyond beverage-based work to team, property and collegiate representation as well (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

    EXECS: Fox Cable Networks Senior VP/Integration & Emerging Media ADAM HOLZER left the company last week (THE DAILY)....NBC Sports Senior Dir of Communications BRIAN WALKER recently left the company after five years to open his own communications consulting business (THE DAILY)....Former Chicago Tribune columnist BOB VERDI is joining the Blackhawks as team historian (, 12/31)....East Valley Tribune columnist Scott Bordow is leaving the paper after 26 years (EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE, 12/30)....The AHL has hired NATHAN COSTA as Manager of Team Business Services and MELISSA CARUSO as Coordinator of Team Business Services (AHL)....The ECHL has hired JEFF ZAVATSKY as Manager of Hockey Operations. Zavatsky spent the past three seasons with the ECHL Stockton Thunder, most recently as Manager of PR & Team Operations (ECHL)....Learfield Sports made several hirings for its college sports properties: TODD HOWELL joins the Univ. of New Mexico account as Associate GM; TERESA GRIM joins the Univ. of Minnesota account as an Account Exec; SPENCER CHRISTIANSEN joins the Montana State Univ. account as GM; and NICK GARNER joins the Univ. of Montana account as GM and SAM BARKLEY as Account Exec (Learfield Sports).

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  • Names In The News

    Clippers Owner Sterling An "Easy Target"
    For Criticism Despite Charitable Efforts
    In L.A., Sandy Banks wrote under the header, "DONALD STERLING Is Generous, Impolitic And Eager To Be Liked." Banks attended last Tuesday's Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation Summit, at which the Clippers owner handed out $1M "from his private charitable foundation to 10 high schools in South and East Los Angeles and 20 charities across Los Angeles County." As Sterling has been "dogged for years by claims that he's a bigot," Banks wondered if the summit was "simple image repair or true redemption." Sterling is an "easy target ... with his tasteless jokes and impolitic comments," and Banks wrote she can "see how he gets in hot water." But L.A.-based publicist DARREN DICKERSON said Sterling "really, genuinely wants people to like him." Dickerson: "He's like a big kid who tries too hard. It's like he's hanging out with the guys in the neighborhood and he can say anything he wants" (L.A. TIMES, 1/3).

    REACH FOR THE GOLD: Suns Chair and USA Basketball BOD Chair JERRY COLANGELO has written a new book entitled "RETURN OF THE GOLD: THE JOURNEY OF JERRY COLANGELO AND THE REDEEM TEAM." Colangelo said the book is "about that journey" in terms of the U.S. men's basketball team winning the Gold Medal at the '08 Beijing Games, "but it's somewhat of a life story regarding my own journey." Colangelo: "It's meant to serve as an encouragement for people trying to make it, and I share personal experiences about reaching for the stars and not being afraid to fail. Second, it's a strong look at leadership and building a company" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/3).

    A LITTLE BIRDIE TOLD ME....: CNBC's Darren Rovell listed the most influential sports figures in '09 in regard to their use of Twitter. Cavaliers C SHAQUILLE O'NEAL topped the list of influential athletes, as he has used the social networking site "to interact with his fans better than any other athlete." Golfer STEWART CINK, cyclist LANCE ARMSTRONG, Bengals WR CHAD OCHOCINCO and Magic C DWIGHT HOWARD were also noted among players. Other sports figures making the list include columnist and author BILL SIMMONS, ESPN's ADAM SCHEFTER, N.Y. Times reporter PETE THAMEL and player agent EVAN MORGENSTEIN (, 12/30).

    Shawne Merriman Has Signed
    With EAG Sports Management
    NAMES: Saints Owner TOM BENSON "will serve as Grand Marshal of the Krewe of Endymion on Feb. 13, helping make the 2010 Mardi Gras season perhaps the most Saints-centric on record." Saints QB DREW BREES will serve as the King of Bacchus for the festival, while Saints coach SEAN PAYTON will ride as "one of the celebrity monarchs in the Krewe of Orpheus" (, 12/2)....Prospective Nets Owner MIKHAIL PROKHOROV is "hosting Russian leader VLADIMIR PUTIN at his $30[M] French Alps chalet as a thank you" for Putin securing an "apology from French authorities for dragging Prokhorov's name into a prostitution scandal" (N.Y. POST, 1/4)....Penguins Owner MARIO LEMIEUX has been named an officer of the Order of Canada, while Hockey HOFer EMILE BOUCHARD was among the new appointments to the order (CP, 12/30). Canadiens President PIERRE BOIVIN was also named an officer of the Order, "one of the country's highest civilian honors" (Montreal GAZETTE, 12/31). Chargers LB SHAWNE MERRIMAN has signed with EAG Sports Management to handle his publicity (EAG).

    IN MEMORY: Former Chicago Sun-Times columnist BILL GLEASON, 87, died Sunday of complications related to Parkinson's disease. Gleason, a "proud South Sider, worked for more than 60 years in Chicago journalism and helped launch the genre of talk sports broadcasting" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/4).

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