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MARC FEIN is leaving Versus after more than seven years as one of the top programming executives at the cable channel. Fein, an '09 recipient of SportsBusiness Journal's Forty Under 40 award, saw his role at the network change once NBC Sports took control of the channel in January. Fein went from being the channel's top programming and production executive to reporting to NBC Sports and Versus President of Programming JON MILLER. Sources said that NBC actively tried to keep Fein from leaving, but he chose to explore other opportunities. Fein is best known for building up Versus' NHL, IndyCar and college football programming.
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: “MONEYBALL” -- We don’t even know the box-office forecasts, but we’ll play the role of Hollywood major-domos and predict a strong opening weekend for the film that scored a 94% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. The film is being lauded for its appeal to both sports fans and female audiences, and the strong reviews combined with a stellar cast make both the A’s and baseball feel hip at exactly the right time.
LOSE: BIG EAST -- Yes, we know the pieces are still falling all over the place on realignment, but what a tough week it’s been for the venerable conference. Losing Pitt and Syracuse is a blow to the historically basketball-strong conference, but it was the way in which it went down that stings the most. Commissioner JOHN MARINATTO reportedly finds out through news reports instead of hearing it from the mouth of Pitt Chancellor MARK NORDENBERG, one of the leaders Marinatto entrusted to secure the conference's future in the first place.
DRAW: FOX SPORTS -- The net's two-week NFL game audience set an all-time record and it brought the EPL to broadcast TV last Sunday for the first time ever with a Chelsea-Manchester United match that drew solid numbers up against the NFL. But the net is also forced answer reports that newspaper headlines shown as part of a piece on JAY CUTLER were fabrications and admittedly “misleading.”
Fox Int'l Channels (FIC) and Fox Sports Media Group announced the creation of FIC Sports, effective immediately. The new division will manage the syndication of Fox Sports content globally, with the aim of centralizing Fox' int'l sports interests under one group in order to increase syndication revenues and support News Corp.'s global strategies. The new venture is being headed up by veteran TV exec PETER HUTTON, most recently a partner at Broadreach Media. Hutton's new title is Senior VP/FIC Sports (Fox).
CAROLINA ON MY MIND: The Hurricanes have re-signed President & GM JIM RUTHERFORD to a four-year contract extension through the '15-16 season. The '11-12 season will be Rutherford's 18th year as GM, making him the second-longest tenured GM currently in the NHL (Hurricanes). The Globe & Mail’s David Shoalts writes Rutherford is “one of the most popular general managers in the NHL and will be around for a while (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/22).
EXECS: Univ. of Arizona AD GREG BYRNE formally had his contract extended to Sept. 29, 2016 (AZSTARNET.com, 9/22)….Under Armour promoted Senior Dir of Global Communications DIANE PELKEY to VP/Global Brand Communications & Entertainment (Under Armour)….Momentum Worldwide VP & Global Communications Dir ADRIENNE SCORDATO announced that yesterday was her final day at the company (THE DAILY)….The Int’l Tennis Federation re-elected President RICCI BITTI to a fourth four-year term, which will last until ’15. Thirteen others were also elected or re-elected to the ITF BOD through ‘13, including U.S. members LUCY GARVIN and JON VEGOSEN (AP, 9/23)….The Kay Yow Cancer Fund Exec Dir MARSHA SHARP has resigned from her role. Sharp, who began he position in May ’09, will continue her duties until a replacement is found. A search committee has been formed consisting of several of the Fund’s BOD members (Kay Yow Cancer Fund).
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In Oklahoma City, Darnell Mayberry noted Thunder F KEVIN DURANT "on Monday began production on the upcoming movie in which he has a starring role." No "official announcement of the film's title and plot has been made," but it is reportedly titled "SWITCH" and will be a "family-friendly film." The movie has license to use NBA property, "allowing such things as the Thunder's jersey, logo, arena and mascot, as well as NBA game footage to be used." Durant, however, is "prohibited from being filmed in Thunder or NBA-related scenes until the NBA lockout is lifted" (THE OKLAHOMAN, 9/21).
INTIMIDATING SIBLINGS: ESPN.com's Brant James noted Lions DT NDAMUKONG SUH's 28-year-old sister, NGUM SUH, "describes herself as her brother's business manager." Agency Sports Management & Marketing Partner RUSSELL SPIELMAN, who "directs the Suhs' marketing and endorsement ventures, describes her as a 'silent assassin' -- in the best possible way.'" Ngum is "diplomatic and forthright, yet unapologetic in advocating for her brother in business and philanthropic matters." Spielman said, "She is not loud and demonstrative. She won't go in a room and start yelling, but if you mess with the bull, you get the horns. Don't cross her" (ESPN.com, 9/22).
NAMES: Former NBAer YAO MING and Virgin Group Chair RICHARD BRANSON made an appeal Thursday in Shanghai "against the consumption of shark fins to a group of 30 of China's richest and most influential businesspeople." In China, "demand for the traditional delicacy is soaring despite efforts to ban their use and trade" (AP, 9/22)....Knicks consultant DONNIE WALSH Thursday night was was inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame at the New York Athletic Club" (N.Y. POST, 9/23)....The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Thursday ruled nine-time Olympic track gold medalist CARL LEWIS "does not meet New Jersey's four-year residency requirement and therefore will not be allowed to run for a state Senate seat" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 9/22)....DR. KENNETH CHESSICK and wife ELLEN donated $3M to Northern Illinois Athletics, marking the department's largest gift ever (NIU)....Cavaliers Owner DAN GILBERT "has agreed to buy two more downtown buildings" in Detroit, adding to his portfolio of real estate as he tries to shape a new entrepreneurial zone." Gilbert's Quicken Loans "will pay $337,500 each for the buildings" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 9/22)....Phillies CF SHANE VICTORINO and wife MELISSA spent $900,000 to refurbish the Boys & Girls Club in Nicetown, Penn. (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/23).
IN MEMORY: Basketball HOFer and Big East founder DAVE GAVITT’s “personal qualities were at the forefront at his funeral Mass” on Thursday in Providence, R.I. Gavitt's pallbearers included former Providenec College basketball players MARVIN BARNES, ERNIE DIGREGORIO and KEVIN STACOM. Other attendees included BOB COUSY, Gergetown Univ. men's basketball coach JOHN THOMPSON III and his father JOHN THOMPSON JR., Syracuse coach JIM BOEHEIM, Pittsburgh coach JAMIE DIXON, UConn coach JIM CALHOUN and former Maryland coach GARY WILLIAMS (PROJO.com, 9/22).