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A mix of negotiators and visionaries who have excelled in virtually every corner of the sports industry make up the '13 class of The Champions: Pioneers & Innovators in Sports Business. The award recognizes the architects and builders of sports, and this year’s honorees include a group that any organization would love to have on its side of the table, both in terms of negotiating skill and being able to figure out the future. This year’s recipients are:
- DONALD DELL, a negotiating expert who played a major role in the evolution of both pro tennis and sports marketing in general
- ROSA GATTI, one of the voices behind ESPN’s unmatched ability to tell its own story as well as provide a blueprint for diversity
- ROY KRAMER, a visionary in the college sports world whose decisions have proved to be decades ahead of their time
- HARVEY SCHILLER, a true sports business renaissance man if there ever was one
- RON SHAPIRO, arguably the original baseball power agent
- PAT WILLIAMS, a builder of successful NBA franchises for the last 45 years.
As one of the first sports agents, Dell co-founded ProServ, and along with IMG founder MARK MCCORMACK, he is considered one of the fathers of both sports marketing and the sports agency business. During the golden age of tennis, Dell represented stars such as ARTHUR ASHE, STAN SMITH, JIMMY CONNORS and IVAN LENDL. He co-founded the ATP and is Vice Chair of the Int'l Tennis HOF.
It is impossible to talk about the history of ESPN without talking about Gatti, a communications exec who joined ESPN in '80, soon after it launched. During the '70s, Gatti was one of the few women in sports, working in the athletic departments at Brown and Villanova. Those early experiences played a major role in Gatti’s career. She founded ESPN’s diversity committee in '92, and it is not a coincidence that ESPN has one of the most diverse staffs of any company in sports.
Kramer was a coach and administrator who became one of the most influential figures in college athletics. As Southeastern Conference Commissioner from '90-'02, Kramer expanded the conference to 12 schools with the addition of Arkansas and South Carolina in the early ’90s. He also formed the first conference championship football game and created the vision for the controversial Bowl Championship Series that, like it or not, for the first time in the history of college football ensured that No. 1 would play No. 2 at the end of the season.
The Citadel graduate and former chemistry professor at the Air Force Academy has a résumé stacked with jobs in virtually every area of the sports industry. In college sports, he served as SEC Commissioner for four years ('86-90), a member of the NCAA Exec Committee and Western Athletic Conference President. In the Olympic world, he served as USOC Exec Dir from '90-94, and has served as Int'l Baseball Federation President. He also was Turner Sports President from '94-'00, and YankeeNets Chair & CEO from '00-02.
Known best as the agent for Baseball HOFers CAL RIPKEN JR., JIM PALMER and KIRBY PUCKETT, Shapiro used that platform as a means to expand beyond the realm of sports representation, establishing himself as a sought-after expert in all forms of negotiation. The consulting firm he founded in '99 has trained more than 350,000 execs and other professionals in negotiation. In recent years, Shapiro has expanded the firm’s programs to offer sales training, including seminars for staffs at professional sports teams.
Williams has spent nearly 50 years in sports, mostly in the NBA where his contributions have put him into the Basketball HOF. He began his NBA career in '68 as 76ers Business Manager. In '69, at age 29, he joined the Bulls as GM. He later returned to the Sixers as GM, where he won an NBA title in '83. He then played an integral role in bringing the NBA to Orlando and has been a leading exec with the Magic since the franchise’s inception in '87. His success as an executive also has made Williams an acclaimed motivational speaker.
The NBA named former Goldman Sachs partner JASON CAHILLY Exec VP/Strategy & CFO. Cahilly replaces CAROL SAWDYE, who left the league in October to become PricewaterhouseCoopers CFO & Vice Chair. Cahilly will report to NBA Deputy Commissioner ADAM SILVER and will oversee the league’s financial affairs and business planning as well as the financial dealings between the league and its 30 teams (John Lombardo, SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/7 issue).
SHINE ON: Reebok Senior VP/Sports & Entertainment Marketing TOM SHINE quietly left the company late last month to join SIMON FULLER’s XIX Entertainment in a senior position. Shine’s title was still undetermined at press time, but he will report directly to Fuller (Terry Lefton, SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/7 issue).
EXECS: StubHub Head of U.S. Communications JOELLEN FERRER was named Ustream Communications Dir. Today is her last day (THE DAILY)….Turner Motorsports Minority Owner HARRY SCOTT has “expanded his role” with the team, which will be called Turner Scott Motorsports (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/6). Scott will “now manage the group’s marketing, public relations and business development areas with Turner managing the competition” (FOXSPORTS.com, 1/6)….Charlotte’s WCCB-Fox Sports Dir BRUCE SNYDER is leaving “after a decade” with the station (CHARLOTTEOBSERVER.com, 1/4)….Billy Casper Golf named Western Hospitality Group and Western Golf Procurement President FRANK DENNISTON VP/Food & Beverage and National Partnerships (Billy Casper Golf)….Boston Globe Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic WESLEY MORRIS is leaving after 10 years to “write fulltime for Grantland” (JIMROMENESKO.com, 1/3).
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In Newark, Craig Wolff profiles Rutgers AD TIM PERNETTI and writes he has "become the face of Rutgers sports and a model of the modern administrator: agile enough to sense an opening and audacious enough to think big." One of the historical figures Pernetti "admires most" and "views as one of his heroes" is former President RONALD REAGAN. He said, "In style, we’re a little bit the same. A very direct, a very decisive leader who knew that leadership is about developing relationships." Pernetti has "the bearing of a TV sports personality," and when laying out his agenda, he "seemed part visionary, part politician -- traits Rutgers seized upon when he was hired four years ago" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 1/7).
GETTING REPS: Several NFL prospects over the weekend signed deals with agents for representation in April's NFL Draft. Octagon agent ANDY ROSS has signed Syracuse OT JUSTIN PUGH. Athletes First signed Texas A&M DE DAMONTRE MOORE. NFL player agent JOBY BRANION will serve as lead agent for Moore. Meanwhile, NFL player agent ADISA BAKARI, who serves as head of the sports & entertainment practice at DC law firm Dow Lohnes, signed Michigan State RB LE’VEON BELL, Texas A&M LB SEAN PORTER, Nevada S DUKE WILLIAMS and Elon WR AARON MELLETTE (Liz Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal). Tennessee QB TYLER BRAY signed with L.A.-based agent DON YEE, of Yee & Dubin, who also represents Patriots QB TOM BRADY (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 1/5).
FACES IN THE CROWD: The Baltimore Business Journal released its "13 faces to watch in 2013" list, which included Orioles Exec VP/Business Operations DOUG DUENNES (BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/4 issue)....Cubs Chair TOM RICKETTS was named as one of the Chicago Tribune's "ones to watch" among Chicago business execs in '13. People can "expect City Hall to cut a deal with the Ricketts family ... to help finance a $300 million renovation of Wrigley Field" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/6).
CHARITY STRIPE: Dodgers P CLAYTON KERSHAW and wife ELLEN's charitable foundation Kershaw's Challenge partnered with Arise Africa in "sponsoring an orphanage in Zambia." The small orphanage "opened last year, and the Kershaws are there now with a team of 23, bringing additional donations, working on the site and interacting with the first eight orphans" (LATIMES.com, 1/4)....Former NBA coach STAN VAN GUNDY and wife KIM "were at a fundraiser at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night, benefiting the Grove Counseling Center" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 1/6).
NAMES: The daughter of Nets minority Owner JAY-Z, BLUE IVY CARTER, "doesn't have to be far from the action" when her dad and his wife, BEYONCE, go to a game. A source said, "Jay rents a luxurious basement suite for $1 million a year" at Barclays Center. The source added it "has an area for Blue filled with toys" (LATIMES.com, 1/4)....Former NFLer TY LAW is a "partner in the new Launch Trampoline Park in Warwick, R.I." Law and his partner, ROB ARNOLD, "opened their 19,000-square-foot indoor trampoline park the day after Thanksgiving." The Patriots' Brady "stopped by Launch on the team's day off last week" with sons BENJAMIN and JACK (BOSTON HERALD, 1/6)....Goodby, Silverstein & Partners is "opening an office" in N.Y. It is the agency's second office outside of S.F., after one in Detroit that opened in '10. The office "opens with work from current clients like Comcast, Elizabeth Arden, Google and YouTube" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/7)....NASCAR driver DANICA PATRICK "stopped in Mobile for the GoDaddy.com Bowl" yesterday (AL.com, 1/6)....Golfer J.J. HENRY on Thursday during the pro-am at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Kapalua wore on a "white golf cap" honoring Sandy Hook Elementary School (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 1/4)....The Patriots "donated the East Putnam club" for this past Saturday's memorial service to "celebrate the life and memories of DON BROCHER, the team's equipment manager who had been with the organization for 41 years." Patriots Owner ROBERT KRAFT said that players will "wear a decal on their helmets in the playoffs to honor Brocher, who died New Year's day from complications related to leukemia" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/6)....Former MLBer EDGAR RENTERIA "sold his sprawling Mediterranean-style Miami Beach home" for $8.32M. The structure is a "7-bedroom, 7 1/2-bath home" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/4).
IN MEMORY: The first GM and coach of the former NHL North Stars, WREN BLAIR, "died Wednesday at 87 in his home of Whitby, Ontario" (TWINCITIES.com, 1/5).
Only 5 days remain to submit an entry for the SPORTS BUSINESS AWARDS. This Friday is the deadline – January 11. We’re looking for the best in 15 categories, including:
To see the full list of categories and submit an entry, go to www.sports-business-awards.com.