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IMG Senior VP & Managing Dir of U.S. Business Development TOM WORCESTER has left the agency after six years. Inside the company, the word on Worcester's departure was that a consolidation of sales functions made Worcester's position redundant. IMG Sports & Entertainment President GEORGE PYNE said LAWTON LOGAN, now Senior VP/Collegiate Properties, will head up the new national collegiate sales division. The division will include 10-12 people and offices in N.Y., Atlanta, and L.A. Pyne called Worcester "a fantastic salesman and a good human being." Other company sources said the move was indicative of changing dynamics within IMG that see collegiate sales as the lead dog, and the influence of ISP Founder BEN SUTTON waxing just after IMG completed the acquisition of his company. At the same time, power held by IMG College Chair PAT BATTLE is waning some three years after Collegiate Licensing Company's acquisition by IMG. Worcester, who did not return two phone calls, was more closely allied with Battle. Prior to joining IMG, Worcester held various sales slots with Sportvision, Quokka, MSNBC's '02 Salt Lake City Games Web venture, and the Gravity Games. Worcester was MLB VP/Sponsorship Sales from '93-99.
The Hornets have been in the news for a variety of on-court and off-court reasons of late, ranging from the NBA's purchase of the franchise earlier this week to the team's fast, and somewhat unexpected, start to the season. Seeking to capitalize on the on-court success is Hornets VP/Marketing MATT BIGGERS, who joined the team in '07 after 11 years with the Magic. Biggers recently took time to speak about New Orleans and the unique challenges of marketing the Hornets with Staff Writer William Cooper.
Favorite thing to do in New Orleans: Taking my kids to City Park.
Favorite basketball memory: Our whole playoff run in '07-08, the first year the Hornets were back in New Orleans. It was a magical run through the playoffs, watching the city get behind the team and taking the Spurs to Game Seven. That whole run was just a great memory.
Favorite app: NBA GameTime. That's the one app I use.
Q: Who have been some your mentors throughout your career?
Biggers: Our president here, HUGH WEBER, is a phenomenal leader. I've learned so much from him. And then my boss for my entire time in Orlando, CHRIS D'ORSO. Both of those guys have been very influential in my career.
Q: New Orleans is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. What are your impressions of how much the recovery has progressed in your three years there?
Biggers: This city and its people are extremely resilient. Everything that's been thrown at them, whether its been Katrina, the hurricanes following that, to the oil spill, this city continually bounces back. It has a spirit unlike any place I'd ever been before. This city is up and running and thriving, and is a great place to be.
Q: What challenges have these circumstances presented?
Biggers: There's always challenges, no matter what situation. We've had fairly unique ones, one with coming back to the city post-Katrina and getting the city to recognize that we were back full time. Probably our most recent challenge is the oil spill disaster and the effect that's taken on industry here in south Louisiana, which trickles down to all businesses here, including us.
Q: You have experience marketing both the Magic and Hornets in relatively small markets. What have been some major differences for you between the two?
Biggers: Probably a major difference is Orlando is much more of a transient city, there's a lot of people in Orlando who aren't originally from Orlando and Florida. People in New Orleans have been here for generations and are extremely proud that they're from the city of New Orleans, and support anything that's positive in New Orleans. That's really reflective in our marketing. This city has its own look, style, rhythm that is extremely unique to itself. A lot of times it's referred to almost as a country within a country because things are so unique and so distinctive. That's a wonderful thing to market toward.
Q: How has the success of the Saints over the last two years affected the Hornets and your marketing?
Biggers: Anything that's good for New Orleans is good for the Hornets. The success that the Saints have had really just rallied the city and brought out more community spirit toward their sports teams. There's some competition in the sense that it's another sports team and another entertainment dollar. But ultimately if it's good for the city, then it's good for us.
Q: Is there a sports business story that you are following closely right now?
Biggers: Digital media and its application and evolution. How it affects our marketing from a day-to-day standpoint, whether that's been Facebook or Twitter, or what's coming next, has been a real big focus of ours, trying to understand it and leverage it to its fullest.
Sources said that AEG Europe President & CEO DAVID CAMPBELL, "who has overseen the O2's emergence as a premier destination for top music acts, live shows and sporting events, is to leave in the first half of next year." Campbell reportedly will become Managing Dir of Allsport Management, the arm of F1 that handles "trackside advertising and sponsorship, merchandising and corporate hospitality." Campbell, who will be based in London, will replace Allsport Founder PADDY MCNALLY, who is "likely to become" non-Exec Chair (SKY.com, 12/7). The GUARDIAN's Plunkett & Gibson wrote the move makes Campbell a "likely contender to replace" F1 Management Chair BERNIE ECCLESTONE (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 12/7).
MOVING UP: 3ality Digital has named Steve Schklair CEO, replacing Sandy Climan, who has shifted into an advisory role for the company's majority shareholder, Modell Ventures. Schklair had been CEO of 3ality's technology and production subsidiary. 3ality has helped enable numerous 3D TV productions in sports and entertainment, including the '09 BCS title game, a '08 NFL regular-season game and a Rangers-Islanders game on MSG this past March (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
MINOR LEAGUE MOVES: Minor League Baseball has promoted TINA GUST to VP/Business Development as part of a company reorganization that will take effect Jan. 3. Gust becomes the first woman to hold the title of VP in MiLB history. As part of the reorganization, the following staff members will take on new titles: SCOTT POLEY Senior VP/Legal Affairs, TIM BRUNSWICK VP/Baseball & Business Operations, BRIAN EARLE VP/BIRCO & Business Services, ROD MEADOWS VP/Sales & Marketing, STEVE DENSA Exec Dir of Communications, SANDIE HEBERT Dir of Licensing, SCOTT KRAVCHUK Dir of Business Development, NOREEN BRANTNER Senior Assistant Dir of Exhibition Services & Sponsorships, KELLY BUTLER Senior Assistant Dir of Event Services, MELISSA AGEE Assistant Dir of Sales & Marketing, LOU BROWN Assistant Dir of Legal Affairs, JILL RUSINKO GM of Durham Athletic Park & MiLB Charities, and DARRYL HENDERSON Coordinator of Affiliate Programs (MiLB).
EXECS: Canadian Soccer League Commissioner DOMENIC DI GIRONIMO has resigned, "just seven months after taking the head job" (VANCOUVER SUN, 12/7)....The Single-A South Atlantic League Greensboro Grasshoppers hired Right Management Inc. Triad VP/Client Services JOHN REDHEAD as Exec Dir of Business Development (Grasshoppers)....The Single-A Midwest League Beloit Snappers named JUSTIN WATERS Dir of Media & Community Relations (THE DAILY)....The Angels named JOSHUA THOENSEN Inside Sales Rep (THE DAILY)....The Double-A Texas League Frisco RoughRiders named JASON BRAYMAN Ticket Operations Manager (THE DAILY).
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Late U.S. swimmer FRAN CRIPPEN, who died during an open-water race in the United Arab Emirates in October, sent an e-mail to USA Swimming Exec Dir CHUCK WIELGUS nine days before he died "complaining about a lack of financial support and the failure to send coaches to 'protect the athletes' at meets around the world." Crippen's e-mail "refers to a plan being pushed by former national team coach MARK SCHUBERT that called for increased compensation and making sure someone was on hand to support and watch out for the athletes at major events." Schubert yesterday confirmed that he "decided in early September to appoint national youth coach JACK ROACH, a former Marine and beach lifeguard, as the head open-water coach." Under Schubert's plan, Roach "would have been at the race near Dubai in which Crippen lost his life." But Schubert said that he "never got a chance to put his plan into effect," as he was "placed on leave in mid-September and formally fired last month" (AP, 12/7).
CUT OFF: N.J. state regulators "have barred two Bergen County money managers from the New Jersey securities industry for their handling of investments" for former MLBers CLIFF FLOYD and RONDELL WHITE. The state Bureau of Securities "revoked registrations" of STEVEN KOLINSKY and STEPHEN HILL, and also fined Hill $210,000. The move stems from "investments that are also at the heart of federal securities fraud lawsuits filed this year by" Floyd and White, who were clients of Kolinsky Hill Financial Group Inc. (Bergen RECORD, 12/8).
HEADING TO COOPERSTOWN: The Baseball Writers' Association of America has selected Philadelphia Daily News columnist BILL CONLIN as the '11 winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, which is given annually to a sportswriter for "meritorious contributions to baseball writing." Conlin will be honored with the award during Baseball HOF induction ceremonies on July 24 in Cooperstown (MLB.com, 12/7). Meanwhile, Marlins and Expos play-by-play announcer DAVE VAN HORNE has won the HOF's Ford Frick Award "for excellence in baseball broadcasting." He also will be honored on July 24 (AP, 12/8).
MORE AWARDS & HONORS: The Suncoast Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences awarded FS Florida an Emmy Award for its series, "INSIDE THE MARLINS: JACK MCKEON," which offers an "inside look" at the former Marlins manager (MLB.com, 12/7)....The St. Louis Sports HOF presented an award to Rawlings Sporting Goods at the '10 Enshrinement Ceremony that took place Nov. 16. The award, accepted by Rawlings President & GM ROBERT PARISH, recognized the company's contributions to the city's sports scene (Rawlings)....NBC golf analyst JOHNNY MILLER will serve as Honorary Chair of the '12 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, which will be conducted July 9-14 at Soldier Hollow Golf Course in Midway, Utah (USGA).
NAMES: Under Armour Exec VP J. SCOTT PLANK, the brother of Under Armour Chair & CEO KEVIN PLANK, "will sell 400,000 Class A shares in a pre-arranged trading plan." J. Scott Plank "entered into the agreement Nov. 30, but the company disclosed it in a regulatory filing this week" (Baltimore SUN, 12/8)....Pershing Square Capital Management CEO BILL ACKMAN "plans to battle John and Patrick McEnroe in a game of doubles." When the bidding for an hour of tennis with the McEnroes "reached $50,000 at the New York Junior Tennis League's 40th Anniversary Civic Leadership Luncheon the other day, Ackman volunteered that he and rival hedge funder CRAIG EFFRON, both avid players, join forces and take the brothers on for a combined donation of $100,000" (N.Y. POST, 12/8)....Former tennis player MARTINA NAVRATILOVA is "leading a group of 27 fundraisers to the summit of Africa's highest mountain, Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, to raise funds for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, a charity helping the lives [of] over one million disadvantaged youngsters worldwide through sports-based projects" (FANHOUSE.com, 12/6).