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A period of silence “was observed at the draw” of the Madrid Masters on Saturday for late ATP Exec Chair & President BRAD DREWETT, who passed away Friday at the age of 54 due to complication with ALS, according to the GULF NEWS. Drewett was “instrumental in helping to secure a larger share of prize money for the journeymen of the sport who more often than not fall at the first hurdle of the four Grand Slams” (GULF NEWS, 5/4). Tennis players NOVAK DJOKOVIC, SERENA WILLIAMS and ANDY MURRAY "were among those to wear ribboned badges and gather in the Manolo Santana stadium for Drewett" (BBC.co.uk, 5/5). In Australia, Leo Schlink wrote Drewett “always seemed wiser than his calendar years, an observation not lost today as his death -- at the indecently young age of 54 -- prompted global mourning among the tennis community.” Schlink: “Truth is Drewett, a man apparently always ahead of his time, was only fleetingly a rookie. Sadly, he was only fleetingly with us.” Drewett “forged a stunningly successful tennis career -- on and off the court.” Primarily based in Sydney, Drewett “almost single-handedly unleashed the beast that is Chinese tennis.” Although his efforts “were channelled into men's tennis, Drewett's deft negotiation with Chinese government officials effectively helped trigger an explosion of interest in tennis among Chinese women.” Apart from “blazing a trail into China, which now has several world-class men's and women's events, Drewett expertly popularised the Barclays World Tour Finals.” He also “boasted astonishing political instinct” (Melbourne DAILY HERALD, 5/4).
A FOND FAREWELL: Several tennis players and industry execs took to Twitter to pay tribute to Drewett. Player ROGER FEDERER wrote, “In his short time running the ATP, he achieved a lot and his dynamic personality and steadfast loyalty to the entire global tennis family was so evident.” Player SERGIY STAKHOVSKY wrote, “The man who changed our sport,who became the 1st. president to unite players.” Player TOMMY ROBREDO wrote, “He fought for our sport til last moment.” Player JUSTIN GIMELSTOB wrote, “Drewett was a great leader and the ultimate @ATPWorldTour contributor.” USTA Chair, President & CEO DAVID HAGGERTY wrote, “Brad left an indelible mark on the game and everyone who knew him.” Player CARLOS MOYA wrote, “Probably the best ATP president, the closest to the players and the one who has achieved the most for the players in the past 30 years.” The WTA in a statement wrote, “The recent prize money increases with the Grand Slams are perfect examples of Brad's brilliant strategic management, and another example of how much he cared about our athletes and the sport's long-term growth" (ATPWORLDTOUR.com, 5/3).
A LEADER UNTIL THE END: In London, Simon Briggs wrote ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, often “manifests itself first in difficulties with speaking, and Drewett had been suffering in this way since early last year.” In recent months, he had "only been able to communicate by typing.” The issue of “finding a successor has been an awkward one, with Drewett insistent that he would continue working for as long as possible.” But it is “understood that his success in the role has encouraged the ATP to seek another internal candidate.” The two men “most likely are the respective heads of the ATP's European and American divisions: MARK YOUNG (who only missed out narrowly to Drewett in 2011) and LAURENT DELANNEY” (London TELEGRAPH, 5/4).
Lightning Owner JEFF VINIK on Friday said that he will return all capital in his Vinik Asset Management hedge fund to outside investors by the end of June so he can “focus his energy on the Lightning hockey team and his charitable foundation," according to Jeff Harrington of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Lightning officials said that the decision is “not expected to impact management of the Lightning" or the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Lightning execs added that the decision “frees up Vinik to give more attention not just to the hockey team and charity but also to his real estate ventures.” Vinik’s net worth is “estimated at about" $500M (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 5/4). Vinik in a letter to investors wrote, "The last 10 months have been more difficult ... following our restructuring." The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Juliet Chung noted as part of the restructuring, Vinik “took on a more managerial role, including deciding how much money his employees should manage, and added a new investment team.” Vinik also “moved the firm from Boston to Tampa.” Investors in April had asked for about $1.5B in withdrawals as the firm's "performance and restructuring created unease in some quarters that Mr. Vinik had lost focus" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/4). In Boston, Beth Healy noted Vinik “closed his hedge fund once before, in 2000, when he returned" $4.2B to clients. Vinik “mainly managed his own money for a few years, but later reopened quietly and slowly expanded.” He “continues to hold a small stake in the Red Sox as well” (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/5).
IMG Sports & Entertainment President GEORGE PYNE will be the first inductee into the National Football Foundation’s new Leadership HOF. The new Leadership Hall will recognize the country’s most influential individuals who have ascended to the highest levels of success and exhibited the critical leadership qualities that transcend ordinary enterprises. Pyne, a former football player at Brown, will be honored at a formal black-tie event at the Waldorf-Astoria in N.Y. on Sept. 10. At the event, Pyne’s outstanding record of leadership and many contributions to the sports business world and the community will be highlighted along with the role football played in his life. “The NFF Leadership Hall of Fame will provide us a powerful new vehicle for simultaneously highlighting the stories of some our nation’s greatest leaders while also raising funds for our scholarship programs that support the next generation,” said NFF Chair ARCHIE MANNING. Proceeds from the event will go to support the NFF national scholar-athlete programs.
IMG Senior VP and head of global Olympic consulting GARY PLUCHINO was named the company's VP of IMG Performance. The new role will see Pluchino relocate from N.Y. to Florida, where he will sell sponsorships, develop partnerships, recruit events and develop events at IMG Academy. The academy's current roster of sponsors includes Gatorade, Under Armour and tennis manufacturer Prince. Pluchino has been with IMG since '03. Prior to that, he worked for Momentum, Carlson Marketing Group and ISL Marketing. In his new role at IMG Performance, he will report to the IMG division’s Managing Dir SAM ZUSSMAN (Tripp Mickle, Staff Writer).
TEE IT UP: Six new members to the USA Golf BOD have been appointed, including co-chairs JOHN BODENHAMER from the USGA and KERRY HAIGH of the PGA. The other members are ROSS BERLIN from the PGA Tour, the LPGA’s HEATHER DALY-DONOFRIO and ALLISON DUNCAN, and PAUL GOYDOS from the PGA Tour. The IOC recognizes USA Golf as the official governing federation for golf. The body will be responsible for selecting the men’s and women’s U.S. Olympic teams. USA Golf also has launched the organization’s website, which will be hosted by the USOC (Michael Smith, Staff Writer).
EXECS: Relativity Sports named Diamond Ridge Ventures Managing Partner JOSH SWARTZ President. He will report to Relativity Sports CEO and Relativity Media co-COO HAPPY WALTERS. Swartz also previously served as Wasserman Media Group COO. Swartz, who "started in his position on April 30, will run the day-to-day operations of the sports group and oversee its growth strategy" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/6 issue)....Breeders Cup Ltd. named former Coca-Cola marketing exec DREW SHEINMAN Senior VP & CMO (DRF.com, 5/6)....ESPNU Programming Coordinator MEGHAN O'LEARY is leaving the company to pursue a spot on the U.S. National Women's Rowing Team (ESPN)....The Bears promoted KEVIN TURKS to Dir of Pro Scouting, replacing CHRIS BALLARD who accepted a position with the Chiefs. In addition, the Bears named DWAYNE JOSEPH Associate Dir of Pro Scouting (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/4)....Bobcats VP/Communications B.J. EVANS is no longer with the team (THE DAILY).
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Eagles Owner JEFFREY LURIE “married Philadelphia resident TINA LAI in a private ceremony.” Lurie announced last July that he and CHRISTINA WEISS LURIE were "getting divorced after 20 years of marriage.” Lai will have “no official role in the Eagles organization” (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 5/6).
BANKING ON IT: In N.Y., Andrew Ross Sorkin profiled former Barclays President ROBERT DIAMOND JR., whose “pilgrimage to Brooklyn has become a regular affair” since he returned to N.Y. Though Diamond resigned before the Barclays Center opened, it "might not have existed without his decision" for the bank to pay $400M to "slap its name on the building.” His skybox, which he "personally pays for, is a homage to his time at Barclays, its walls lined with pictures of some of his proudest moments.” There is a photo of Diamond and Nets investor JAY-Z “breaking ground on the arena, him playing golf with PHIL MICKELSON, him handing over the championship trophy of the English Premier League, which Barclays sponsors.” Arena investors also added Diamond to the board of the Barclays Center "after he left the bank" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/5).
FOLLOWING A LEGEND: In N.Y., Clyde Haberman profiles Yankees PA announcer PAUL OLDEN, who took over for the late BOB SHEPPARD in ’09. Olden said, “They trust me enough with the scripts that I have free rein pretty much to change stuff the way I would say it, more so than the way they wrote it.” He added, “They trust me not to go too far out of the Sheppard mold.” Haberman writes Sheppard was “nothing less than the Voice of God,” and that is “not the easiest act to follow” (N.Y. TIMES, 5/6).
NAMES: Allegations of wrongdoing by a U.S. mining company controlled by former Oilers Owner PETER POCKLINGTON “have been laid to rest following a year-long investigation.” The Arizona Corporate Commission board has “voted unanimously to approve a consent order that effectively ends its enforcement action against Pocklington’s company” (EDMONTONSUN.com, 5/5)….MLB Commissioner BUD SELIG will be the keynote speaker for the Barbara Sinatra Center for Abuse Children’s Annual Champion Honors Luncheon on Jan. 17 in Indian Wells, Calif. (THE DAILY)….Former NFLer BRANDON SHORT “left Goldman Sachs Group’s INC.’s Dubai unit last month to start a closely held Islamic lender that will specialize in loans to small and medium-sized companies" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 5/3)….Patriots DT MARCUS FORSTON attended Reebok’s second annual Active Kids Day at the company’s HQs (BOSTON HERALD, 5/5)….U.S. skier LINDSEY VONN attended the Delete Blood Cancer Gala in N.Y. and was “eager to walk her first red carpet without a knee brace” (NYPOST.com, 5/3).