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NASCAR Thursday announced a significant restructuring designed to streamline its business operations and position it for its upcoming television rights negotiations, CEO BRIAN FRANCE said. The organization hired STEVE HERBST as VP/Broadcasting & Global Media Strategy, filling a position that has been vacant since former broadcasting VP DICK GLOVER left in ‘08 to become CEO of the OrDie Networks. Herbst, who will be based in NASCAR’s N.Y. office, most recently worked as Exec VP & GM of CBS College and spent 19 years prior to that at the NBA where he rose to Senior VP/Broadcasting & GM of NBA TV. At NASCAR, Herbst will manage broadcast relationships with rightsholders Fox, ESPN and Turner. He also will be critical to its television rights negotiations process. Its current rights agreements end in 2014. France said, “There’s nobody that we have interviewed that’s better suited to assess that (broadcast) situation and get our broadcast partnerships at the highest level they need to be. We’re really excited to have him on board.” Herbst will report to NASCAR Media Group President PAUL BROOKS. France said NASCAR does not plan to launch a network of its own despite recently building a production facility in Charlotte and hiring Herbst, who has experience launching a network. France said, “We’ve got a unique situation in that we’ve got a relationship with the Speed Channel, which is in 74 million homes, so we’re going to build on that relationship before we consider trying to go a long way around. We’re going to make sure that relationship serves the purpose of us having our own network.”
STREAMLINING OPERATIONS: NASCAR also streamlined its business operations by shifting responsibility for sponsorship, licensing, auto aftermarket and new business to Chief of Sales JIM O’CONNELL. Licensing and auto aftermarket previously reported to Brooks. France said Brooks will continue to sit on the board of NASCAR’s licensing trust, the recently formed licensing clearinghouse composed of representatives from NASCAR and 30 teams. VP/Licensing BLAKE DAVIDSON and Managing Dir of Auto Aftermarket TODD ARMSTRONG will report to O’Connell. NASCAR plans to hire additional senior-level sales staff to support the consolidated intellectual property division. O’Connell will continue to report to NASCAR CMO STEVE PHELPS. In addition to overseeing those efforts, Phelps adds responsibility for NASCAR’s digital operations to his duties. MARC JENKINS, who has been promoted to VP, will manage the digital business and report to Phelps. Turner currently holds NASCAR’s digital rights as part of an agreement negotiated in ‘05.
TIME TO INNOVATE: Brooks will continue to serve as NASCAR Media Group President and will lead a newly created NASCAR Innovation Group that is tasked with driving innovation and integration of technologies across everything from cars to media platforms. France said, “Paul’s going to have a huge job in terms of the broadcast still reporting to him. He’s going to be instrumental in getting Steve Herbst up to speed, but Paul’s going to have to sell technology and innovation through the entire industry. Nobody’s better suited than he (is).” In addition to those changes, NASCAR promoted JILL GREGORY to VP/Industry Services, GEORGE SILBERMAN to VP/Regional & Touring Series and MARCUS JADOTTE to VP/Public Affairs & Multicultural Development.
In Boston, Michael Silverman wrote former NL President BILL WHITE's book, "UPPITY: MY UNTOLD STORY ABOUT THE GAMES PEOPLE PLAY," should "interest anyone who admires someone who doesn't mince words." The book was co-written by GORDON DILLOW, and it is "hard to come away" from it with the "feeling that White loved the game." Silverman: "There is real ambivalence there, a recognition of baseball's conflicts and hypocrisies that have always made it one of the best mirrors we have on American society. But, as he concludes, baseball 'was always a great game to play'" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/24).
ISRAEL BASEBALL LIVES ON: BASEBALL AMERICA's James Bailey noted the Israel Baseball League "lasted only one season, flaming out after financial woes plagued its 2007 campaign." AARON PRIBBLE, who led the IBL in ERA, has written "PITCHING IN THE PROMISED LAND: A STORY OF THE FIRST AND ONLY SEASON IN THE ISRAEL BASEBALL LEAGUE." Bailey wrote, "Thanks to Pribble's diligent journal-keeping, the league will not be forgotten." Pribble "tells his story with wit, a little self-deprecating humor, and an eye for detail." Bailey: "He keeps the action on the bumpy, dusty fields entertaining, despite a level of play that sounds at times to have been just a notch or two above a good 30-plus league here in the States" (BASEBALLAMERICA.com, 4/27).
PROFILE OF THE CAPTAIN: On Long Island, Neil Best noted ESPN N.Y.'s IAN O'CONNOR has written "THE CAPTAIN: THE JOURNEY OF DEREK JETER," which will hit bookshelves next month. The "word is Derek Jeter isn't too thrilled" about the book, "at least not about some leaked material regarding his relationship" with Yankees 3B ALEX RODRIGUEZ. Best: "The Jeter vs. Rodriguez dynamic consumes a hefty chunk of the book, and leads to most of the negative material Jeter would have liked to avoid. Turns out he could be petty and cold when it came to his old pal" (NEWSDAY, 4/27).
BOOKSHELF: In Florida, Peter Kerasotis noted "REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF THE BOSTON RED SOX," is "oversized, full of pictures, and it has text written by noted baseball historian HARVEY FROMMER" (FLORIDA TODAY, 4/26)....In N.Y., Stefan Fatsis noted N.Y. Times columnist DAN BARRY has written "HOPE, REDEMPTION AND BASEBALL'S LONGEST GAME" about a game in '81 between the Triple-A Int’l League Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings that is "professional baseball's longest game." The book "plunges fearlessly into the realm of baseball poetry and pathos, and Myth and Romance too" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/25)....The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Fred Barnes noted Duke Univ. public policy, economics and law professor CHARLES CLOTFELTER has written "BIG-TIME SPORTS IN AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES." The book's "central theme is that the time has come to end the strange dichotomy on college campuses, where athletic and educational departments exist in parallel universes and regard each other warily." It "cites coaches' contracts packed with incentives," and it "offers plenty of other eye-opening statistics." But Clotfelter wrote the book is "perhaps most surprising in its even-handed approach to the subject of major college athletics" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/23).
Ever wonder how executives in sports business spend their weekends? THE DAILY this week continues "What's Up For The Weekend," providing readers with an inside look at people in our industry. This week, we catch up with LPGA Commissioner MIKE WHAN, who chatted with Staff Writer Theresa Manahan.
Q: What are your plans for this weekend?
Whan: Typically I would be at our tournament, which this week is the Avnet LPGA Classic in Mobile, but instead I’m going to watch the final two rounds on Golf Channel because I’m joining my 16-year-old son, AUSTIN, on a trip to Cincinnati, Ohio, for some college visits starting with my alma mater, Miami University of Ohio, then Denison University and Indiana University. On Saturday night, I’m giving a speech at the Mid-American Conference golf championship dinner.
Q: What are you really looking forward to this weekend? Anything special planned?
Whan: One-on-one time with my oldest son. We’re pretty close and we have a unique connection. He looks like me, thinks like me -- poor kid. With three boys in the family, I don’t get a lot of individual time. Even if he doesn’t like the colleges, it will be a great weekend.
Q: What do you like to watch and read on the weekend?
Whan: I watch a lot of golf. Painfully the last few weeks I’ve watched golf that doesn’t include the LPGA because we’ve been off for three weeks, but I’m a golf fan. I was watching before I was commissioner and I’ll watch it after. I used to work in hockey, so I’m also following the NHL Playoffs. I usually have a “read on plane” file for stuff I can’t read in the office, and I’ll get through that on weekends, too.
Q: What workout routines or activities do you like to do on the weekend?
Whan: I’m a runner. I get my best thinking done when I’m running. My wife knows if it’s raining, I’m definitely going for a run. It’s a weird thing, but I love running in the rain. I’m usually up and running by 5:45am so that I can get back to the house before anyone gets up. That way I don’t miss anything.
Q: What is the one thing our readers would be most surprised to know you do on the weekend?
Whan: I’m a clean freak, so I don’t think I’ve missed a Saturday at the car wash in years. I do the laundry, I pick up the house, clean out the garage once a month. I just like things to be in place. Drives my wife crazy.
Q: Best weekend ever?
Whan: Earlier this year, I flew home on Friday, landed at 4:00pm and drove straight to my son’s high school football game, where my parents had surprised us and flown in from Scottsdale. My son is at a brand new high school with a brand new team, fourth game of the year, and he made a catch in the corner of the end zone with time running out to win the game. The next morning, on the Orlando Sentinel’s website, he was No. 3 on the top-10 players of the week. We were able to e-mail the video of his catch to all of our friends back in California. I work hard to get home from work to see my family and to see that happen to my son, knowing he had left his school and friends in California to move to Florida when I took the LPGA job … that was a big one for me.
Q: Guilty weekend pleasure?
Whan: This might sound made up because I’m the commissioner, but the thing I love to do on Sunday afternoons is grab my three boys and go play nine holes. If I can talk my wife into the idea that having three hours alone will be great for her, then taking my sons out for a few hours on the golf course, there’s nothing I would rather do.
Q: What do you usually do to pass time on a plane?
Whan: I read stupid mystery novels and my “read on plane” file. My assistant probably hates it because I land and end up with a thousand things for her to work on. I actually look forward to plane rides, as it gets me a chance to catch up on letters and hundreds of e-mails.
THE DAILY each Friday offers our take on the performances over the past week of people and entities in sports business. Here are this week's newsmakers:
WIN: PEYTON HILLIS -- The Browns RB receives national attention after winning a fan vote to grace the cover of EA Sports’ “Madden NFL 12” video game. Hillis, buoyed by an aggressive get-out-the-vote campaign by the Browns, easily defeats MICHAEL VICK to become the first Browns player on the cover of the popular game. The increased exposure should lead to more off-the-field opportunities for Hillis, who has already parlayed his newfound fame into an appearance on Thursday’s “Late Show.”
DRAW: MLB -- Much has been written about the league's attendance slump to start the season -- and for good reason. MLB saw a sharp decline at the gate over the first month of play compared to the same period a year ago. But while empty seats have plagued several markets, fans are still tuning in on the tube. Fox's Saturday MLB game viewership is up 5% year-over-year, while ESPN's "Sunday Night Baseball" viewership is up 20%.
The Brewers have hired NICK WATSON as VP/Information Technology. Watson previously served as Senior Dir of Information Systems for Medtronic, Inc. (Brewers)....Root Sports Pittsburgh has hired FS Ohio Coordinating Producer DOUG JOHNSON as VP & Exec Producer (Root Sports)....Sources said that the Univ. of San Francisco has hired Syracuse Univ. Exec Senior Associate AD SCOTT SIDWELL as AD (S.F. CHRONICLE, 4/29)....U.S. Lacrosse has hired Triad Youth Lacrosse Association Dir of Coaching & Development BILLY HOOK as Dir of Programs, effective Monday. Hook will report to U.S. Lacrosse Managing Dir of Sport Development JOSHUA CHRISTIAN (U.S. Lacrosse)....Korrio has hired KIP FERN as Product Manager and ROGER REINA as Dir of East Coast Sales (Korrio).
Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to email@example.com.
The USOC Thursday named Gold Medal-winning gymnast PETER VIDMAR and former Paralympic track and field athlete AIMEE MULLINS Chefs de Mission "to act as liaisons" for the '12 London Olympics and Paralympics. Vidmar and Mullins will "travel to London for chef de mission meetings in August and in January, and they're both expected to march in the Opening Ceremony -- for the Olympics on July 27, 2012, and for the Paralympics on Aug. 29, 2012" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 4/29).
PLAYING POLITICS: Asian Football Confederation President MOHAMED BIN HAMMAM, who is running against SEPP BLATTER for FIFA President, "has denied trying to buy votes with a promise of increased financial aid for the federation's members." Bin Hammam "has vowed to double the sum paid annually to FIFA members to $500,000," but he "rejected suggestions that the proposed increase in money for development projects was a form of vote-buying" (LONDON TIMES, 4/29).
FASHION FORWARD: In N.Y., Tim Murphy profiled RACHEL JOHNSON, "who has emerged as the go-to image maker for celebrity athletes like" Knicks F AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE and Heat F LEBRON JAMES. Stoudemire, "never a fashion slouch, has improved his sartorial game thanks to Ms. Johnson, who is credited with bringing tailored suits, bow ties and chunky glasses to a world better known for baggy jeans and sneakers." Johnson: "There's value for these brands in dressing NBA clients because they get a lot of press" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/28).
NAMES: The Marlins and Food For The Poor Thursday announced that their Inspiration Village in Haiti is now complete. Marlins Senior VP/Communications & Broadcasting P.J. LOYELLO, Senior VP/Marketing SEAN FLYNN and Dir of Community Outreach ANGELA SMITH will visit Cap-Haitien, Haiti, from May 3-5 to celebrate the dedication of the village (Marlins)....The Eagles Thursday were honored with three first-place corporate philanthropy awards at the Philadelphia Business Journal's Corporate Philanthropy Summit. The team was named the Top Cash Donor ($871,811) and Top In-Kind Donor ($3M), and also was awarded the Top Community Impact Award (Eagles)....Former U.S. Olympic figure skater MICHELLE KWAN and movie producer FRANK MARSHALL were announced Thursday as co-Chairs of the fifth IOC Women and Sport 2012 Conference, which will be held next February in L.A. (LATIMES.com, 4/28)....Several NFL Draft prospects "met PRESIDENT OBAMA at a fund-raiser at the Waldorf-Astoria" in N.Y. on Wednesday night. LB ALDON SMITH said, "He walked into the room, and it was electric." Several prospects, including LB VON MILLER, also "spent Thursday morning visiting Mount Sinai Hospital" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/29)....Former golfer LORENA OCHOA is "expecting her first child." She is "due to give birth around November" (AP, 4/28).
REMEMBERING A LEGEND: The Dolphins will hold a public memorial service to honor late announcer JIM MANDICH "for all fans and media" at Sun Life Stadium on Wednesday at 7:00pm ET (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 4/28).