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SBD/January 12, 2011/People and Pop CulturePrint All
IMG Chair & CEO TED FORSTMANN's "growing clout in sports has come under scrutiny since he tripped the third rail of U.S. sports: gambling," according to a sports-section cover story by Michael McCarthy of USA TODAY. Forstmann was "sued last year by Agate Printing, a firm owned by ex-golfing buddy JAMES AGATE." Forstmann "admits to betting on sports through Agate," but he said that he "quit around 2007, the same year he launched IMG's move into college athletics by acquiring the Collegiate Licensing Company." The NCAA said that Forstmann "did not violate any current laws or regulations," but in December, Forstmann "banned IMG's nearly 3,000 worldwide employees from making bets on college sports, even March Madness office pools." Forstmann: "Having been a victim here of this B.S., I didn't want it to happen again." Forstmann is "by turns defiant and charming, belligerent and humorous." When talking "about his global expansion plans for IMG, he becomes expansive and thoughtful," but when the "subject of Agate comes up, he becomes visibly tense." Forstmann is "indignant anyone would question his business ethics and frustrated that coverage of the suit is detracting from what he believes is the real story, namely how IMG has come out of nowhere the last three years to become one of the most powerful players in U.S. college sports." Forstmann: "I've taken this company that was essentially going nowhere, thought they were so important because they represented TIGER WOODS and this and that and so on, and this is what is coming out of it. And I can tell you there are people who still believe that's what IMG is."
TAKING OWNERSHIP: McCarthy notes Forstmann is "transforming the privately held company in his own image." He "doesn't like calling it an agency." He "wants IMG to be an owner, not a middleman brokering deals and getting a fee." Forstmann over the next year "predicts IMG will post earnings 5-6 times greater than when he bought it." He said that the company's profits from college sports "could be bigger than the profits from the rest of IMG put together within two years." Forstmann said, "College sports is very interesting because unlike the pro sports, it's not a monopoly. So there's opportunity to do things. There's a need on the part of the college for increased revenues, increased abilities to do things. We provide this." Meanwhile, Forstmann said that the client representation portion that "defined the old IMG now accounts for only 6% of profits." Forstmann: "It doesn't mean that I don't think we don't do a good job at it. Because I think we do. I'm happy to represent [ROGER] FEDERER, and Woods and all these people. But you can't scale it. I'm not a sports guy. I'm a deals guy who loves sports." He added, "I'm in a building mode" (USATODAY.com, 1/12).
TENNIS' PETE ROSE? FANHOUSE.com's Greg Couch wrote Forstmann is "tennis' Pete Rose." Several sports governing bodies are "simply buying into Forstmann's extremely hard-to-believe claims that his sports betting was all in the past." Nothing would "make tennis happier than to believe that, so the sport closes its eyes really tight and wishes really, really hard." But "at the same time that he claims to have stopped, he also defends it by saying there was nothing wrong with it." Couch: "So which is it?" (FANHOUSE.com, 1/10).
Fox Sports Interactive Media has named MTVN Digital Group VP MARLA NEWMAN Senior VP/Sales, reporting to FSIM Exec VP & GM JEFF HUSVAR. Newman will be based in N.Y. (FSIM)....Ludus Sports has hired Caliber Sports Enterprises President & CEO CORBY FISHER as Dir of Sales & Marketing (Ludus Sports)....The Red Sox named the following: MIKE MUROV Baseball Operations Assistant, TOM ALLISON Regional Crosschecker and JON ADKINS and CHRIS PRITCHETT Area Scouts (Red Sox)....The Single-A South Atlantic League Hagerstown Suns have hired SARA GRASMON and RECHELLE BISCHOFF to lead marketing efforts, TONY IOVIENO to head stadium operations and food and beverage, and JOSH MASTIN, BEN SCHEFFEL and CHRIS VIERLING to lead the sales department (Suns)....The T'Wolves have hired JOSEPH KRAMER as Ticket Sales Associate (THE DAILY)....Athletic Republic of Orange County (Calif.) has hired former NHLer DAVE KARPA as Dir of Hockey (THE DAILY).
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The Univ. of South Florida and former football coach JIM LEAVITT reached a settlement that will pay him $2.75M to “resolve a wrongful termination suit.” The settlement includes $2M for salary and benefits as well as a payment of $750,000 “acknowledging Coach Leavitt’s contributions to building USF’s nationally respected football program.” Leavitt “had sought as much as” $7.1M from what was remaining on his contract (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 1/12)….Former Univ. of Minnesota associate women’s golf coach KATHRYN BRENNY yesterday filed a lawsuit “alleging that athletic department officials took away her coaching duties after the golf director learned she is a lesbian.” UM General Counsel MARK ROTENBERG has said that the school “does not agree with Brenny’s claims and didn’t discriminate against her” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/12).
UPPING THE ANTE: In Portland, Rachel Bachman wrote the Univ. of Oregon “still has much to do to keep up with other BCS title contenders,” as Autzen Stadium is the “smallest stadium” of any team to reach a BCS championship game since '98. UO AD ROB MULLENS said that he anticipates about a 10% “increase in football ticket prices,” and that the university “also will look at increasing donation levels for priority seating.” Mullens added that UO is also “planning to start a waiting list for season tickets” (OREGONLIVE.com, 1/11).
PEELING THE ONION: Comedy Central's "Onion SportsDome" debuted last night, and in Toronto, Chris Zelkovich writes, “It’s hilarious at times, tasteless at others.” A “rapid-fire segment entitled ‘Who Would You Kill?’ couldn’t have come at a worse time considering the events of the past week.” Former Rogers Sportsnet anchor JIM VAN HORNE said, “I’m curious to see how long it is before somebody takes one of these stories seriously. Somebody will because it’s so authentic-looking. It just looks like ESPN or TSN” (TORONTO STAR, 1/12).
NAMES: JIM MACKAY, who caddies for PHIL MICKELSON, “worked the sidelines” at Monday’s Tostitos BCS National Championship Game “lugging … equipment around” as an assistant to SI photographer ROBERT BECK (AP, 1/11)....Astros GM ED WADE "has been training this offseason to run in the Houston Marathon on Jan. 30" (MLB.com, 1/11)....The opening morning of the Jan. 27-29 PGA Merchandise Show will begin with a keynote presentation on the Asian marketplace featuring an address by GREG NORMAN regarding golf business developments in Asia (PGA)....Yankees P CC SABATHIA and his wife, AMBER, "will be honored for their charitable work at the Baseball Assistance Team's annual dinner" Jan. 25 in N.Y. The dinner also will celebrate the legacy of late Yankees Chair GEORGE STEINBRENNER (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/12)....MLB Network reporter HAZEL MAE got married last weekend (BOSTON.com, 1/11).