Weekend Plans With WNBA Sky's Michael Alter Ratner Confident In Isles Playing In Nassau Anticipation High For Griner's WNBA Debut ABC Looking For Indy 500 Ratings Uptick EA Used Tebow Name In NCAA Game Classified Advertisements Executive Transactions Mohegan Sun Not Getting NCAA Tourney Games Roc Nation Sports A "Legitimate Threat" Wild Raise Season-Ticket Prices
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Rogge (r) Credits Samaranch For
Building Up Olympics In Modern Era
Former IOC President JUAN ANTONIO SAMARANCH died this morning in a Barcelona hospital at the age of 89. Samaranch led the IOC from '80-'01, and he was responsible for the new IOC HQs and The Olympic Museum, both in Switzerland. Only PIERRE DE COUBERTIN, who held the post from 1896-1925, held the position for longer than Samaranch's 21 years. IOC President JACQUES ROGGE said in a statement, "I am personally deeply saddened by the death of the man who built up the Olympic Games of the modern era, a man who inspired me, and whose knowledge of sport was truly exceptional. Thanks to his extraordinary vision and talent, Samaranch was the architect of a strong and unified Olympic Movement." Rogge added, "We have lost a great man, a mentor and a friend who dedicated his long and fulfilled life to Olympism." NBC Sports & Olympics Chair DICK EBERSOL: "He was a towering figure in the world of sport and a diplomat of consummate skill who navigated through turmoil to reunite the Olympic Movement" (THE DAILY).
COMMERCIALIZING THE GAMES: The BBC notes Samaranch was "widely regarded as the most powerful man in sport" during his tenure, as he "oversaw the commercialisation of the Olympics during the 1980s and 1990s and established the Games as a world force." BBC Radio's GORDON FARQUHAR said, "During his tenure, Samaranch helped revitalise the economic fortunes of the IOC through global sponsorship deals and marketing of TV rights. Professional athletes were fully embraced, finally ending the tradition of amateurism at the games" (BBC.co.uk, 4/21). The AP's Wilson & Logothetis note when Samaranch became IOC President in '80, the organization was "virtually bankrupt and the Olympics were battered by boycotts, terrorism and financial troubles." When he left in '01, the IOC's coffers were "bulging from billions of dollars in commercial revenues, the boycott era was over, and the games were firmly established as the world's favorite sports festival." Canadian IOC member DICK POUND: "He took a very badly fragmented, disorganized and impecunious organization and built it into a universal, united and financially and politically independent organization that has credibility, not only in the world of sport, but also in political circles. That's an enormous achievement to accomplish in 20 years" (AP, 4/21). ABC's Juju Chang noted Samaranch led the IOC during a "time of unprecedented change for the Olympic movement" ("GMA," ABC, 4/21).
IMPROVED THE FINANCIAL HEALTH: AROUND THE RINGS' Hula & Rosen write Samaranch was the "man behind improving the financial health of the Olympic movement, developing TV rights and sponsorship negotiations and strengthening Olympic Solidarity, the organ by which the IOC redistributes its revenue in order to ensure the training and participation of athletes at the Olympic Games" (AROUNDTHERINGS.com, 4/21). Author DAVID WALLECHINSKY said Samaranch "got the IOC on a fine financial footing," as he "figured out how to make the whole thing profitable." NPR's Howard Berkes writes Samaranch "tapped the corporate model" that PETER UEBERROTH created for the '84 L.A. Games, which "increased the Olympics' value." Samaranch then was "able to start bidding wars among TV networks for the exclusive right to broadcast the Games," and the Olympics "became a billion-dollar brand" (NPR.org, 4/21). In Chicago, Philip Hersh writes Samaranch's "commercialization and professionalization of the Olympics ... was a double-edged sword." Hersh: "To some it made the Olympics just another big-money sporting event. To others, it opened doors in places with no money at all" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 4/21).
OVERCOMING SCANDAL: The BBC's James Pearce writes no individual "commanded greater respect within the IOC" than Samaranch, and the "endearment is perhaps surprising considering that Samaranch had led the IOC through its greatest crisis," the scandal around the '02 Salt Lake City Games. The Salt Lake City scandal "rocked the whole Olympic movement," and by the time Samaranch stepped down in '01, it was "inevitable that his reputation had been tainted." Still, there is a "genuine belief within the Olympic movement that the modern Olympics simply wouldn't be the same if it hadn't been for Samaranch" (BBC.co.uk, 4/21). In London, Rick Broadbent writes Samaranch "survived" the scandal, which was "by no means the first Olympic scandal, but it strained the credulity of some to believe he was unaware of the corruption within his committee" (TIMESONLINE.co.uk, 4/21).
Olympic Movement Prospered
Under Samaranch's Tenure
Rockies Will Wear Uniform Patches
Honoring McGregor Beginning Today
The Rockies last night honored late President KELI MCGREGOR by "hanging a jersey with the No. 88, his football number, in the visitors dugout" for their game against the Nationals, and the team will "wear uniform patches recognizing McGregor beginning today," according to Troy Renck of the DENVER POST. McGregor, 48, was "found dead in a hotel room in Salt Lake City" yesterday morning, "news that numbed the organization." Salt Lake City Detective Rick Wall indicated that McGregor died of natural causes, adding, "We didn't see anything suspicious." The official cause of death is "being investigated by the Salt Lake City Medical Examiner's Office and is not expected to be released for two days." McGregor was in Utah "making a promotional appearance" with other Rockies execs, including Chair & CEO CHARLIE MONFORT and Exec VP/Business Operations GREG FEASEL. He is survived by his wife, LORI, and four children: daughters JORDAN, TAYLOR and LANDRI, and a son, LOGAN. McGregor joined the Rockies in '93 as Senior Dir of Operations and "steadily moved up the ladder until being named" team President in '01 (DENVER POST, 4/21). MLB Commissioner BUD SELIG said yesterday, "He was a young man who walked into the room with an older group, and commanded respect. He brought a new thought process into the group and did it in a way that it was accepted and welcomed" (FOXSPORTS.com, 4/20). Monfort: "Words cannot describe the level of shock and disbelief we are feeling at the loss of Keli" (DENVER POST, 4/21).
HUGE INFLUENCE WITHIN ROCKIES: The DENVER POST's Renck notes McGregor’s influence within the organization "was huge." He was the "top decision maker for the Rockies during the most turbulent time in franchise history," and was so committed to the team that he "turned down an offer to run" the Falcons. He spent "much of the past 18 months spearheading the relocation of the Rockies' Arizona spring-training site from Tucson to Scottsdale" (DENVER POST, 4/21). Players agreed that McGregor's “compassion and patience ... helped transform the Rockies from a perennial loser into a model franchise." Many of the players were close to McGregor because he "worked out with them or made a genuine effort to get to know them" (DENVER POST, 4/21). MLB.com's Harding & Schlegel write McGregor may be "best known for being instrumental in creating a variable pricing structure by which fans can buy tickets that include high-profile games without having to buy an entire season ticket." The Rockies have been credited as the "first in baseball to come up with such a structure." McGregor in his 17 years with the Rockies "impressed many around baseball with his acumen and personality" (MLB.com, 4/21). The DENVER POST's Renck wrote, "It's impossible to underestimate how large a role McGregor played in the franchise's rebuilding over the last several years" (DENVERPOST.com, 4/20). FSN's George Frazier said he is sure the jersey that hung in the team's dugout last night "will travel with this Rockies ball club for quite some time, and deservedly so because Keli is going to travel with all of us forever" (FSN Rocky Mountain, 4/20).
A CALMING PRESENCE: FOXSPORTS.com's Tracy Ringolsby wrote McGregor was the "calming influence in the Rockies organization." He was the "stability that allowed the Rockies to undertake their long-term rebuilding plan that has resulted in the franchise using a home-grown nucleus to advance to the postseason twice in the last three years." His abilities "did not go unnoticed" around professional sports, as he was a "frequent target of other franchise owners." Ringolsby noted there is "every reason to think McGregor would have been the type of candidate" to succeed Selig as Commissioner. The Rockies did not have a "succession plan in place" (FOXSPORTS.com, 4/21). Ringolsby noted Selig said that McGregor "could come in and he could take ideas and take the emotions out of the discussions and help everybody get a clear picture of what was going on. I think that translates to why the Rockies are where they are today. … The success of this franchise in the last few years is really a tribute to his leadership." FSN's Drew Goodman: "He had a presence and a vitality that you just couldn't help but notice him, and yet he was about all the right things. He was an extremely warm person, an engaging person, very passionate" (FSN Rocky Mountain, 4/20). MLB.com's Hal Bodley, who covered McGregor for years, wrote, "McGregor made you feel like you were his best friend" (MLB.com, 4/20).
REMEMBERING A FRIEND: Several players, coaches and friends yesterday paid their respects to McGregor:
- Mariners President CHUCK ARMSTRONG: "Keli McGregor was one of the finest individuals I've known" (MLB.com, 4/21).
- D'Backs President & CEO DERRICK HALL: "This sport lost a true friend and gentleman today" (MLB.com 4/21).
- Yankees President RANDY LEVINE: "He was a wonderful guy with a lion's heart. ... Everybody loved him" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/21).
- FSN's Frazier: "Not only Colorado is going to miss him, all of baseball is going to miss him" (FSN Rocky Mountain, 4/20).
- Former Rockies Vice Chair JERRY MCMORRIS: "No question about it, he was a special man" (FOXSPORTS.com, 4/20).
- Rockies manager JIM TRACY: "In my opinion, he embraces everything and been in the forefront of everything the Colorado Rockies are about and represent" (DENVERPOST.com, 4/20).
- Tracy: "I'm stunned. ... I want to understand this, but I don't. He has been in the forefront of everything that the Colorado Rockies are about" (USA TODAY, 4/21).
- Rockies SS TROY TULOWITZKI: "He treated everybody with respect, no matter if you were a fan coming into the ballpark for the first time or a player. You look at how he lived his life and you want to model that" (DENVERPOST.com, 4/20).
- Rockies hitting coach DON BAYLOR: "He has left a huge void in the organization" (DENVER POST, 4/21).
- Pro Football HOFer JOHN ELWAY: "He was a great soul. He was very humble, kind of a gentle giant" (DENVER POST, 4/21).
- Rockies 1B TODD HELTON: "He was a very compassionate man who loved this team and loved his family even more" (USA TODAY, 4/21).
- Rockies 2B CLINT BARMES: "For us to be where we are at and who we are right now, none of it would have happened without Keli. ... We are losing not only a great leader, but a great man" (DENVER POST, 4/21).
- FSN's Goodman: "I don't know of anybody that I have ever come in contact with who had anything negative to say about Keli and didn't hold him in the highest regard" (FSN Rocky Mountain, 4/20).
- Rangers hitting coach and former Rockies manager CLINT HURDLE: "Just a really great man. A great family man. A man of faith. He stood for so many things all the time" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/21).
- Mariners President CHUCK ARMSTRONG: "Keli McGregor was one of the finest individuals I've known" (MLB.com, 4/21).
The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association announced the hiring of Sports Illustrated CMO ANDREW JUDELSON as Chief Revenue & Marketing Officer. Judelson will replace USSA Senior VP/Sales & Marketing TED MORRIS, a 12-year veteran who will leave the organization in May to pursue other opportunities. In a statement, USSA CEO BILL MAROLT said, "Ted has been an outstanding steward of our brands. His leadership through several economic downturns has been vital to our ability to fund athletic programs and help our athletes achieve the success they did in Vancouver." Judelson said, "I am really, excited and energized because this is a great opportunity to marry my professional skills with a personal passion I have for the sports of skiing and snowboarding.” USSA created the position of Chief Revenue & Marketing Officer for Judelson. He will begin in the position on May 17 and oversee all areas of revenue production (except private giving to the USSA's foundation), internal communications, PR, events and development of digital media. In a statement, Marolt said, "In creating this broad new role in our company, we sought someone who had deep experience in traditional marketing plus the spirit and creativity to take advantage of new media." An SI spokesperson said they had not yet named a replacement for Judelson. He is the third senior exec to leave SI in the last year, following in the footsteps of former SI Digital President JEFF PRICE and VP/Advertising Sales JEFF GRIFFING. Judelson previously worked at Clarion, Sprint and the NHL, where he spent 8 1/2 years. He plans to relocate from N.Y. to Park City with his wife and two sons in the coming weeks. Morris, who previously worked at BBDO in N.Y., plans to remain in Park City with his family.
Thompson Has Spent
11 Years With Wild
The Wild have "terminated the contract" of Assistant GM TOMMY THOMPSON. Thompson, a "longtime scout and player personnel guru," was one of the team's "first hires" by former GM DOUG RISEBROUGH (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 4/21). Thompson, the "last remaining member of the original management team," had been with the organization for 11 years. His contract expires on June 30 (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/21).
TURNING OVER A NEW MAPLE LEAF: The Canadian Olympic Committee Monday formally introduced Jean Dupré as its new CEO & Secretary General. Dupré, who will be based in Toronto, said that "one of his goals is to continue" the work of the On The Podium program so that "amateur sports would keep supplying services to athletes with Olympic medal chances" (GLOBE & MAIL, 4/20). The COC Monday also appointed CHRIS OVERHOLT as COO & CMO. Overholt has worked for the Raptors, NHL Panthers and Dolphins (CP, 4/19).
EXECS: Maloof Sports & Entertainment has hired Trail Blazers Dir of Group Sales PHILLIP HORN as VP/Ticket Sales & Services and STEPHEN LEOPOLD as VP/Group & Individual Ticket Sales. Leopold has spent the past six seasons as Exec VP for the AHL Albany River Rats and af2 Albany Firebirds (Maloof Sports & Entertainment)....Churchill Downs Inc. named TIMOTHY BRYANT President of Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in New Orleans. Current CDI Senior VP & Fair Grounds President AUSTIN MILLER will become President of Calder Casino & Race Course in Miami Gardens, Florida, while CDI Senior VP and current Calder President TOM O'DONNELL will be leaving CDI as planned (CDI)….The MLS Crew named Eagles Dir of Marketing MICHAEL MALO Senior VP/Sales & Marketing (Crew)….MLS FC Dallas named former Penn State men's soccer coach BARRY GORMAN its first-ever Technical Dir (FC Dallas)....Minnesota Combative Sports Commissioner Exec Dir SCOTT LEDOUX, "fighting for his life against ALS," will resign from his position, effective May 15 (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/21).
Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to email@example.com.
Lakers Unveil Statue Of Late Broadcaster
Chick Hearn Outside Staples Center Last Night
The Lakers yesterday "unveiled a 5,000 pound, nearly 16-foot statue" of late broadcaster CHICK HEARN outside Staples Center at a ceremony before last night's Thunder-Lakers game. About a "dozen Lakers legends were on hand," as were Lakers GM MITCH KUPCHAK, Exec VP/Business Operations JEANIE BUSS (ESPNLOSANGELES.com, 4/20). The 45-minute ceremony took place "in front of a crowd of about 500." The bronze statue, which was created by OMRI AMRANY, shows Hearn "sitting at a table while wearing a headset, looking like he's midsentence while calling a game." A chair next to the statue "remains open, allowing fans to take photographs in it" (L.A. TIMES, 4/21).
A TROUBLING DEVELOPMENT: In N.Y., Karen Crouse reports USA Swimming's BOD held an "emergency teleconference Sunday night," during which they "devised a seven-point plan to address the issue of coaches' taking advantage of their young athletes." USA Swimming's policy "calls for any complaint to be referred" to Exec Dir CHUCK WIELGUS, who subsequently "turns it over to the organization's legal counsel, which opens an investigation" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/21).
TIME TO TAKE CHARGE: In Newark, Steve Politi wrote Rutgers AD TIM PERNETTI will have his "success or failure as an athletic director linked to the downtrodden basketball program -- and to the coach he hires now after a long and messy divorce with FRED HILL JR." The forthcoming hire is the "first true test for Pernetti, and he is off to a rocky start" after he "let uncertainty swirl around his troubled program for more than two weeks before finally announcing Hill's dismissal Monday." Rutgers "needs more than a coach right now." The school "needs a salesman, a recruiter and a fundraiser." Pernetti is "trying to raise money for renovating the Rutgers Athletic Center and practice facility, a project that is just as important to the basketball program's success as a new leader" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 4/20).
Jones Has Busy Day
Surrounding NFL Draft
NO REST FOR THE JERRY: In Dallas, Todd Archer writes Cowboys Owner JERRY JONES, 66, has an "energy level that would knock out any Red Bull-sipping twentysomething, especially" around the NFL Draft. Jones yesterday started the day with an early-morning workout on the elliptical machine, and ended it at Ft. Worth's Bass Performance Hall for a symphony. In between, Jones was the "guest speaker at the SMU Athletic Forum Luncheon and was given the Distinguished Texan Award by the National Football Foundation Gridiron Club of Dallas at Cowboys Stadium" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/21).
NAMES: Driver DANICA PATRICK "will be voicing a character" in the racing videogame "Blur." The game, due out May 25, "lets players race more than 50 licensed cars from the familiar to the exotic over tracks based on real-world locations" (USA TODAY, 4/21)....MLS Galaxy assistant coach COBI JONES and former WPS FC Gold Pride D BRANDI CHASTAIN have teamed to "promote the Man Up Campaign to get youth to 'man up' and stand up to violence against women and girls." The two are featured in a PSA that will debut at Man Up's global summit at this summer's FIFA World Cup (WASHINGTONTIMES.com, 4/20)...."Time for Africa," a song by SHAKIRA and South African band Freshlyground, "has been chosen as the official World Cup anthem." The song is "expected to be released to radio stations across the world next week and will be available for download beginning April 26." Shakira and Freshlyground will "perform the song at the World Cup kickoff concert in Soweto on June 10" (AP, 4/16)....Patriots Owner ROBERT KRAFT, CB DARIUS BUTLER and Boston Culinary Group Chair JOE O'DONNELL attended last night's Heat-Celtics game at TD Garden (BOSTON HERALD, 4/21)....Redskins Owner DAN SNYDER, Exec VP & GM BRUCE ALLEN, coach & VP/Football Operations MIKE SHANAHAN and QB DONOVAN MCNABB will sit at the Washington Times table at the White House Correspondents' Dinner on May 1 (POLITICO.com, 4/19)....Cubs Chair TOM RICKETTS and his family were spotted "enjoying dinner at Mia Francesca after a recent Cubs game" in Chicago (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/21).