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NASCAR driver JIMMIE JOHNSON for the second consecutive year tops Forbes' list of "America's Most Influential Athletes," according to Tom Van Riper of FORBES. Jets QB TIM TEBOW is listed second, up from No. 10 last year. This year, six of the 10 most influential athletes are NFL QBs, with both the Broncos' PEYTON MANNING and the Giants' ELI MANNING "in the fold." The list was created using results from Nielsen and E-Poll poll that "surveyed over 1,100 adults about dozens of well-known athletes to measure their likeability and whether they’re considered 'influential,' an important quality for marketers." Candidates were limited to "pro athletes who are currently active and who score at least 20% 'awareness' with the general public." Dropping off the list from '11 are driver JEFF GORDON, U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer MICHAEL PHELPS, Steelers S TROY POLAMALU, Heat F LEBRON JAMES and TNT analyst SHAQUILLE O'NEAL, who is no longer eligible after retiring from the NBA last year. Their replacements on the list: Eli Manning, Knicks G JEREMY LIN, boxer MANNY PACQUIAO, Saints QB DREW BREES and Packers QB AARON RODGERS. Below is the complete Forbes list (FORBES.com, 4/23).RK
NAME% INFLUENTIALLIKE/LIKE A LOT1 NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson25%40%2 Jets QB Tim Tebow24%50%3 Broncos QB Peyton Manning21%52%4 Boxer Manny Pacquiao20%59%5 Patriots QB Tom Brady19%38%6 Packers QB Aaron Rodgers19%62%7 NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.19%41%8 Saints QB Drew Brees19%63%9 Giants QB Eli Manning18%57%10 Knicks G Jeremy Lin18%66%
CBS Sports named MARK WOLFF Coordinating Producer of College Basketball. Wolff will be responsible for the day-to-day planning of the net's NCAA basketball coverage. Wolff joins BOB FISHMAN on the lead basketball production team working the regular season and NCAA Tournament, including the Final Four. Wolff will also continue to serve as a producer for the NFL (CBS Sports)....Univ. of California-Riverside named ERIC BUSKIRK Senior AD/Development (UC-Riverside)....Mandalay Baseball Properties Exec VP & CMO STEVE DELAY has left the company after more than 12 years (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
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Prior to Thursday night's first round of the NFL Draft, Saints Owner TOM BENSON told reporters that his granddaughter, co-Owner & Exec VP RITA BENSON LEBLANC, "is hospitalized at Oschner Hospital" in New Orleans. USA TODAY's Glenn Guilbeau notes LeBlanc "has been on leave from work for several weeks." Benson said, "Unfortunately Rita's in the hospital. She's OK. Oschner's taking good care of her" (USA TODAY, 4/27). In New Orleans, WVUE-Fox reporter Jennifer Hale wrote on Twitter Friday, "Rita Benson LeBlanc released from hospital" (TWITTER.com, 4/27).
NEW ROLE: Israeli basketball club Maccabi Bazan Haifa hired former Syracuse Univ. associate head coach BERNIE FINE as a basketball consultant to the team, which is owned by Florida-based businessman JEFFREY ROSEN. After 36 seasons at Syracuse, Fine was "fired in November, amid allegations that he sexually molested two former ball boys" (ESPN.com, 4/26).
NAMES: ESPN's CHRIS BERMAN this week appeared at his alma mater, Brown Univ., to honor outgoing AD MICHAEL GOLDBERGER, who is leaving the school after nearly 40 years (GOLOCALPROV.com, 4/25)....After the Knicks Tuesday announced GLEN GRUNWALD as the team's permanent Exec VP & GM, interim head coach MIKE WOODSON and former President of Basketball Operations ISIAH THOMAS, along with their wives, met for dinner at Serafina in White Plains, N.Y. (N.Y. POST, 4/26)....RIHANNA and JAY-Z will headline the BBC Radio 1 Hackney Weekend 2012, on June 23-24, a month before the London Games (BLOOMBERG.com, 4/26)....Wells Fargo has made a $100,000 donation to The First Tee of Charlotte, part of the bank's celebration of the 10th anniversary of the PGA Tour's Wells Fargo Championship next week (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/27)....The D'Backs will receive the '12 Arizona Business Leadership Award. Team President & CEO DERRICK HALL will accept the award on behalf of the organization (D'Backs)....U.S. Treasury Secretary TIM GEITHNER questioned several CEOs Wednesday "about business trends" during a closed-door meeting at Nike HQs in Portland, Ore. Participants at the meeting included Nike President & CEO MARK PARKER and Columbia Sportswear President & CEO TIM BOYLE (BIZJOURNALS.com, 4/26).