SBD/Issue 9/Sports Industrialists

ESPN's DeLuca Leaves Company For Entrepreneurial Opportunities

Longtime ESPN programming exec LEN DELUCA has left the company after 14 years. His last day was Tuesday. ESPN's Senior VP/Programming & Acquisitions, DeLuca said he decided to leave ESPN to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities. "I couldn't pursue these opportunities and do my job at ESPN," DeLuca said. "It was the right time for me to make the jump and go." DeLuca said he had been thinking about leaving ESPN since the summer and had several conversations with his boss, Exec VP/Programming & Acquisitions JOHN WILDHACK about it since then. "I'm thirsty for new challenges," DeLuca said. DeLuca oversaw tennis on ESPN and ABC. He said it is the right time to leave ESPN, coming off a 10-year extension he signed to carry the Australian Open, plus a U.S. Open that saw ESPN2 carry the rain-delayed men's finals. DeLuca had been with ESPN since '96. He previously worked with CBS Sports from '80-96.

PRODUCTION DEPARTMENT CHANGES: ESPN has combined its production departments, organizing the group by sport rather than splitting it up by studio shows and live event productions. Senior VP & Exec Producer/Event Production JED DRAKE and Studio Production Senior VP and Managing Editor MARK GROSS will oversee the new group and report to Exec VP/Production NORBY WILLIAMSON. Nobody was laid off as a result of the changes. "Everyone always likes to figure out who the winners and losers are when something like this happens," said ESPN VP/Communications MIKE SOLTYS. "In this case, that's not really applicable." This marks the first time in ESPN's 31-year history that the group has seen this kind of change. Drake, who oversaw ESPN's FIFA World Cup productions from South Africa, will oversee "MNF," MLB, tennis, motorsports, soccer, golf, X-Games and 3D. Gross will oversee NFL studio shows, NBA, college sports and "SportsCenter." Before the World Cup, Drake handled all live event programming and Gross oversaw all studio shows. Senior VP/Event Production TIM SCANLAN, who had overseen soccer and baseball productions, will move to ESPN's talent office, where he will be involved in recruiting and developing announcers and handling those relationships. ESPN VP/Production MIKE MCQUADE will handle MLB productions -- both studio and remote. He also will oversee golf. Coordinating Producer AMY ROSENFELD will handle soccer. ESPN's int'l production also was reorganized, with ESPN Int'l and ESPN Deportes VP/Production RODOLFO MARTINEZ overseeing all int'l production, studio and remote. Martinez also reports to Williamson.

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