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Former Rockies Principal Owner JERRY MCMORRIS died yesterday morning at the age of 71 after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer, and he will be "forever remembered as the savior of Major League Baseball in Colorado,” according to Patrick Saunders of the DENVER POST. There was a "moment of silence honoring McMorris" before last night’s Rockies-Padres game in San Diego. McMorris’ “crucial role of ensuring that big-league baseball survived and thrived in Colorado will be his legacy among area sports fans.” After Denver was awarded an MLB expansion franchise in ’91, “major problems soon arose" with MICKEY MONUS and JOHN ANTONUCCI, the Rockies' principal owners at the time. Monus was charged in a multimillion-dollar fraud and embezzlement scheme, and “the Monus-Antonucci financial partnership crumbled,” leaving the Rockies with $20M shortfall. MLB was "on the brink of pulling its expansion franchise from Denver until McMorris rode to the rescue.” McMorris personally paid $7M of the $95M expansion fee and organized “a group to save baseball in Denver.” Under McMorris’ stewardship, “the Rockies made MLB history, setting attendance records while playing their first two seasons” in ’93 and ’94. McMorris also operated as the Rockies’ CEO from the inaugural season until ’03. After a labor stoppage canceled the '94 World Series, McMorris "led negotiations from the owners’ side and helped bring baseball back” in ’95. He also “helped the Rockies move to newly built Coors Field” in ’95. McMorris “relinquished his role" as Rockies President to the late KELI MCGREGOR in ’01, but remained involved until Dec. ’05, when financial difficulties “forced him to sell controlling interest of the club” (DENVER POST, 5/9).
Texas A&M Univ. AD BILL BYRNE yesterday announced his retirement, effective Aug. 31. School officials "have begun a nationwide search for Byrne's replacement" with Texas A&M VP/Marketing & Communications Jason Cook and regent Jim Wilson serving as co-chairs of the search committee. The school "hopes to have a new athletic director on campus before the start of the fall semester" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 5/9)....Kennesaw State Univ. named Wake Forest Univ. Assistant Dir of Athletic Development ERIN KERR Dir of Athletic Development (Kennesaw St.)....The Univ. of Central Florida named Univ. of Minnesota Associate Dir of Athletic Communications ANDY SEELEY Assistant AD/Communications (UCF).
EXECS: Aramark named Pepsi Beverages CEO ERIC FOSS CEO, President & BOD member, effective immediately. Foss replaces JOSEPH NEUBAUER, who will remain Chair of the BOD (Aramark)....Ticketing industry veteran JEFF KLINE has left his role as president of the Cleveland-based Veritix after four years. Kline, a former Ticketmaster exec, played a significant role in the expansion of the DAN GILBERT-controlled company from its original iteration as Flash Seats (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal)....NFL Jets VP/College Scouting JOEY CLINKSCALES "is leaving the organization for a prominent front-office position" with the Raiders, according to sources cited by ESPN.com's Adam Schefter. Clinkscales "coordinated the Jets' draft" since '08 (ESPN.com, 5/8). Meanwhile, Raiders scouts GEORGE KARRAS and KENT MCCLOUGHAN have both resigned (SFGATE.com, 5/9)....The National Collegiate Hockey Conference named U.S. Air Force Academy Assistant AD JOE NOVAK Dir of Hockey Operations. Novak will be responsible for internal operations and administration for the NCAA Division I conference that will begin play in the '13-14 season (NCHC)....The AFL Arizona Rattlers named Arizona's Reviving Baseball In Inner Cities Chair & VP/Development RONNY HENDERSON Dir of Marketing (Rattlers)....United Soccer Leagues named FC Tucson Managing Partner CHRIS KEENEY Southwest Regional Rep (USL).
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The Canadian Taxpayers Federation said that the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission "had been given 10 season tickets" to NHL Jets games in return for spending about C$250,000 "through a sponsorship arrangement with MTS Centre." However, only "four tickets were given to charity" (WINNIPEG SUN, 5/9). In Winnipeg, Tom Brodbeck notes eight of the 10 season tickets "were lower-bowl, Sec. 100 seats -- the most expensive ones in the house." The other two seats "were in the upper bowl." The "very hottest tickets this season -- the Jets home opener Oct. 9 against the Montreal Canadiens -- were scooped up entirely" by National Democratic Party board members (WINNIPEG SUN, 5/9).
ON THE PAYROLL: In Ft. Worth, Stefan Stevenson noted TCU football coach GARY PATTERSON in '10 "made more than $3.4 million" after leading the team to a victory in the Rose Bowl. The school's tax documents indicate Patterson's salary included more than $1M "in bonuses and incentive compensation." A raise one week "after the Rose Bowl victory bumped his base salary from $2,088,882 to around $2.7 million." Patterson's salary ranks fourth "among Big 12 coaches, behind Texas' MACK BROWN, who's the highest-paid football coach in the country with an annual salary of $5.2 million, Oklahoma's BOB STOOPS (third in the nation at $4.55 million) and Oklahoma State's MIKE GUNDY, who will earn $3.275 million this season" (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 5/8).
Auction of Kobe Bryant's face mask netted
more than $67,000 for charity
THE DATING GAME: ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY's James Hibberd noted former NFLer WARREN SAPP, former U.S. skier and NFLer JEREMY BLOOM, U.S. snowboarder SETH WESCOTT, Lions DT NDAMUKONG SUH, Patriots TE ROB GRONKOWSKI and former U.S. Olympic taekwondo athlete STEVEN LOPEZ will appear on Fox' upcoming celebrity dating show, "THE CHOICE," which premiers June 7. In each episode, four celebrities sit in "spinning chairs and listen to non-famous prospective dates pitch themselves." Over the course of three rounds, the contestant pool is "paired down until each celebrity has chosen their date for the evening" (EW.com, 5/8).
NAMES: Former Penn State assistant football coach MIKE MCQUEARY will file a whistleblower lawsuit against the university. McQueary's writ of summons indicates that he "intends to seek damages outside the normal arbitration limits." McQueary is still on Penn State's payroll (CENTRE DAILY TIMES, 5/9)....Lightning Owner JEFF VINIK has donated $10M to his alma mater, Duke Univ. The donation will be used to hire 10 new professors "dedicated to studying and addressing issues that affect quality of life" (TAMPABAY.com, 5/8)....Microsoft CEO STEVE BALLMER, Seahawks coach PETE CARROLL, T'Wolves G MARTELL WEBSTER and children from a Seattle-area Boys & Girls Club participated in a basketball shooting contest as part of a fundraiser for the A Plus Youth Program (SEATTLE TIMES, 5/9)....Former Chicago Tribune sportswriter BILL JAUSS, ESPN analyst MIKE DITKA and late Baseball HOF broadcaster JACK BRICKHOUSE will receive the '11 Ring Lardner Awards during the annual awards dinner on May 30 at the Union League Club of Chicago (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/9)....A historical marker yesterday was placed outside the house where MUHAMMAD ALI grew up in Louisville, Ky. (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 5/9)....A street leading to Halle Stadium in western Germany will now be named after tennis player ROGER FEDERER. Formerly known as Weststrasse, the street will now be called “Roger-Federer-Allee.” Federer said he is “extremely humbled and honored” by the gesture, calling it an “amazing honor” (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/8).