SBD/January 12, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

PGA Tour's Finchem Says Retirement Never Crossed His Mind

Finchem will be Commissioner for 22 years if he stays on through extension period
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem was given a contract extension yesterday through June '16, and the 64-year-old said that he “never really considered retiring when his contract was due to expire" this June, according to Garry Smits of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. Finchem said, “I just didn’t give it much thought until recently because I was too focused on the new TV contract.” Finchem said that his goals for the next four years “include enhancing the PGA Tour as a digital product and the fundraising campaign for The First Tee, with a goal of raising $100 million to attract 10 million children and youth to golf worldwide." Smits notes Finchem's financial package “was not revealed” but as the CEO of a nonprofit organization, his salary “is public record.” The tour’s IRS filing shows that his annual income “has fluctuated between just under $5 million and as high as $5.3 million in the past five years” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 1/12). The AP's Doug Ferguson noted there "probably won't be another extension." When told that he would be 69 "when the new contract expires, Finchem pointed out that 77-year-old Bud Selig just signed on for two more years as commissioner of Major League Baseball; and that Ronald Reagan was 70 when he was elected president, serving two terms." Finchem: "I never rule out any possibilities. But the likelihood is, this will probably be it for me. There's other things I want to do" (AP, 1/11). Finchem said of how long he wants to stay with the tour, “I don’t have a particular time frame in mind. I think it has to do with what’s best for the organization. ... I’m getting a little older so you have to ask yourself those questions a little more often, but I’m not worried about that right now.” GOLFCHANNEL.com's Rex Hoggard noted Finchem faces an "eventful six months as the circuit attempts to replace Nationwide as the umbrella sponsor of the secondary tour and either re-sign, or replace, FedEx as the sponsor of the season-long points race" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 1/11).

PROSPEROUS TIMES UNDER FINCHEM: ESPN.com’s Bob Harig wrote the tour “has prospered under Finchem’s leadership.” Finchem has “been at his best in recent years, when the economy suffered, when [golfer Tiger] Woods' game slumped in the aftermath of personal issues, when sponsors were bailing on tour events and the networks pushed back on rights fees.” While he is “clearly aware the big names drive interest, he also has looked out for the little guy, striving to make golf a lucrative pursuit for those able to shoot the scores.” He has been “too soft on slow play, unwavering in not announcing player discipline, perhaps too firm with sponsors who were looking to catch a break during a horrible economy.” There have been “spats about how many tournaments international players should be required to play, whether players should be required to add events they've not played, and whether the tour should set its own rules and forego those of the United States Golf Association” (ESPN.com, 1/11).

GOLFERS GLAD HE'S STAYING: Golfer David Toms said of Finchem, “A lot of the things he’s done I think have been great for our game, and certainly our game has grown. What he’s been able to do with the last TV contract, when everybody didn’t know what was going to happen, obviously it was a positive thing so I can’t argue with the job he’s done.” Golfer Joe Ogilivie, often seen as a possible successor to Finchem, said, “To go into 2008 and to be here in 2011 as a fully-sponsored tour is nothing short of heroic” ("Golf Central," Golf Channel, 1/11). Golf Channel's Gary Williams said, "They’re not just towing the line saying they’re happy about it. I think that stability and continuity by and large is good for every professional enterprise, but I do believe that their sentiment is authentic. They’re happy that he’s staying on.” Golf Channel’s Jason Sobel: “Tim Finchem has done some very, very good things with the PGA Tour over the last few years. The most important of which is keeping all these sponsors through this economic downturn and we’ve seen so many businesses in other industries, and in the golf industry, that have really been hurt during this time of economic crisis, whereas the PGA Tour keeps rolling along. ... That’s one of the legacies of Tim Finchem’s reign in office” ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 1/12).
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