SBD/June 16, 2011/People and Pop Culture

Names In The News

Vasquez in Venezuela as part of U.S. State Department diplomacy program
In Baltimore, Kevin Van Valkenburg reports Grizzlies G GREIVIS VASQUEZ "is in his native Venezuela this week as part of a U.S. State Department 'sports diplomacy' program that hopes to use athletes to improve international relations, especially between countries with strained relationships." Vasquez is teaming with former NBAer DARVIN HAM and former WNBAer KAYTE CHRISTENSEN to "hold a series of basketball clinics for kids, as well as meet with local sports officials" (Baltimore SUN, 6/16). Vasquez "declined to comment on whether the trip could help relations between the two countries." Vasquez: "I'm an athlete. I don't have any connection with the politics at all. It's a good sport to unite people. ... The political side I can't control" (AP, 6/15).

IT WILL ALL BLAZE OVER
: FIFA Exec Committee member CHUCK BLAZER said that he is "confident his response to complaints of 'contempt and slander' from Caribbean Football Union members will clear him of any wrongdoing in the eyes of FIFA's ethics committee." Blazer: "I am fully confident that I will be heard properly and that there is no case here." Blazer "blew the whistle on the explosive cash-for-votes scandal that has rocked world football's governing body," but the complaint from CFU leaders is "not related to that bribery probe" (WORLDFOOTBALLINSIDER.com, 6/15).

TICKETS TAKEN AWAY: MUHAMMAD AL-GADDAFI, the eldest son of Libya leader MUAMMAR GADDAFI, "has been stripped of his Olympic tickets following a public outcry over the decision to grant Libya hundreds of seats" at the '12 London Games. LOCOG had been "forced to allocate Libya tickets" after the IOC "failed to expel the regime despite widespread condemnation of its bloody crackdown on opponents." The IOC was "forced to backtrack yesterday following public fury over the decision to allow Libyan regime figures to attend the Games" (London TELEGRAPH, 6/16).

COSTLY ENDEAVOR: In DC, Paul Kane reported U.S. Rep. NANCY PELOSI (D-Calif.) and her husband, PAUL, have felt the "financial pinch" from Paul's ownership of the UFL Sacramento Mountain Lions. Paul "holds a stake worth a minimum of $1 million in the UFL as well as another asset worth at least $5 million in his Mountain Lions." Last year he "lost at least $1 million on the Lions," and throughout '10 he "pumped more than $1.8 million into the team's finances" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 6/15).

HONORS & RECOGNITIONS
: Penn State Univ. AD TIM CURLEY has been named the '11 recipient of the National Football Foundation's John L. Toner Award. The award is presented annually to the AD who has demonstrated superior administrative abilities and shown outstanding dedication to college athletics, and particularly college football (NFF)....Falcons investor WARRICK DUNN and Bulls and White Sox Chair JERRY REINSDORF have been awarded with the Jefferson Award. Dunn and Reinsdorf will join 15 other recipients of the award, which recognizes community service and volunteerism, at a gala in DC next Tuesday (THE DAILY)....NBC Sports Digital Dir of Business Development RICK WOLF has been named to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association's Hall of Fame Class of '11 (NBC).

NAMES: NFL Cardinals coach KEN WHISENHUNT, Texans coach GARY KUBIAK, former NFL coach JIM MORA and Fox and NFL Network analyst JIM MORA JR. "will visit the Persian Gulf as part of the NFL-USO coaches' tour" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 6/16)....NBA TV analyst CHRIS WEBBER has partnered with the National Great Blacks In Wax Museum to champion its campaign to build a block-long, 120,000 square foot new museum in Baltimore. Webber is leading the fundraising effort for the Sports Wing of the planned Gallery of Sports, Recreation and Athletics (THE DAILY)....IMG Worldwide has signed motocross racer RYAN DUNGEY for exclusive worldwide management, sponsorship, licensing and marketing representation (IMG)....Ford Motor Co. Exec VP & President of the Americas MARK FIELDS "will be the celebrity driver in the Focus pace car" for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 at Michigan Int'l Speedway (DETROIT NEWS, 6/16)....Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. MITT ROMNEY attended last night's Red Sox-Rays game at Tropicana Field (TAMPABAY.com, 6/15).

IN MEMORY: Greater Kansas City Sports Commission President KEVIN GRAY died yesterday at the age of 51 "after a battle with metastatic cancer." Gray had served in the post "for the last 22 years" (K.C. STAR, 6/16)....Filmmaker JIM RODNUNSKY, the developer of Cablecam, died Friday at the age of 54 "after battling brain cancer for three years" (L.A. TIMES, 6/16).
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