SBD/July 8, 2013/People and Pop Culture

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  • After Weeks Of Speculation, 76ers Announce O'Neil Replacing Aron As CEO

    The 76ers have hired former MSG President SCOTT O'NEIL as CEO, replacing ADAM ARON, who was hired by the Sixers in '11. Aron will remain a minority owner of the team and a board member. O’Neil will oversee the team’s business operations with recently hired 76ers President of Basketball Operations SAM HINKIE running the basketball side of the franchise. O’Neil begins his new job on July 16. “With Scott and Sam Hinkie, I believe we have put in place a dynamic, industry-leading management team that should help position the Sixers for success both on and off the court in the future," 76ers Majority Owner JOSH HARRIS said in a statement. O’Neil was MSG President from July '08-September '12. His new job marks a return to Philadelphia, where he worked for the Eagles early in his career after attending Villanova Univ. He takes over running the 76ers after a 34-48 season that saw the team miss the playoffs with a 4.5% drop at the gate compared to the '11-12 lockout-shortened season. “You have an extremely passionate fan base in a hard-core sports city and the Sixers have some history that means something,” said O’Neil, who prior to taking the 76ers job was linked to opportunities with the Raiders and MLSE. “My first hundred days will be spent listening and learning to truly understand where we are. I love the market, the brand is terrific, but the one overriding factor is Josh Harris, [76ers co-Owner] DAVE BLITZER and the ownership group."

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  • Wasserman Profiled As Power Player In Sports, But Some Question "Nice-Guy Persona"

    Wasserman believes his agency can double in size over the next five years

    Wasserman Media Group Chair & CEO CASEY WASSERMAN has "become a big deal behind the scenes in his hometown" of L.A., according to Brooks Barnes of the N.Y. TIMES, who profiled him in a business section front-page piece under the header, "A Sports Agent With Hollywood In His Blood." WMG is now a $150M business and "one of the largest sports agencies in the world." NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver said, "There’s a sense of permanence about Casey. You know you are going to be dealing with him for a very long time." Wasserman also "sits at the center of continued efforts to build a stadium" that would bring the NFL back to L.A. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, "His influence extends far beyond what you see on the surface." Wasserman said of being the grandson of former MCA/Universal Chair & CEO LEW WASSERMAN, "Growing up with means gives a person one important thing, which is the ability to make choices. ... Good choices or bad, those are all on me." Wasserman was "early to spot the potential of action sports, and that division of his firm has grown from an $800,000 annual business a decade ago to a $16 million one today." His company has "made at least 10 significant acquisitions over the last decade." Wasserman thinks that his agency has "enough internal momentum to double in size over the next five years." He has "privately told confidants" that he may be interested in pieces of IMG. Wasserman said that "becoming bigger brings problems along with rewards." He added, "The chances that one person could make a big mistake increase, and that keeps me up at night."

    TOUGH AT THE TOP
    : While "almost no one will say anything negative about him on the record -- perhaps a sign of how influential he has become -- some of his fellow Hollywood scions in particular grouse that Mr. Wasserman’s nice-guy persona is a well-practiced shtick." A few current and former employees say that he "can be controlling, aloof and impatient." Others "fault his decision at 18 to change his surname to Wasserman from Myers, calling it a cynical effort to capitalize on his grandfather’s legacy." Wasserman said of that notion, "If I had any interest in trading on my grandfather’s success, I didn’t need to change my name to do it" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/7).

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  • Going To The Chapel: RGIII Gets Married, Durant Proposes Over Holiday Weekend

    Redskins QB ROBERT GRIFFIN III’s “much-anticipated marriage to longtime girlfriend REBECCA LIDDICOAT” happened in Denver on Saturday night, according to Dan Steinberg of the WASHINGTON POST. Both the ceremony and the reception “were held in the Denver Four Seasons.” Guests included Redskins Owner DANIEL SNYDER, his wife TANYA, GM BRUCE ALLEN, coach MIKE SHANAHAN and Senior VP/Communications TONY WYLLIE, as well as several players (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 7/7)....Maple Leafs D DION PHANEUF married actress ELISHA CUTHBERT on Saturday in Summerfield, Prince Edward Island. The reception "was held at the couple’s summer residence in New London" (CP, 7/7)....Bruins D TOREY KRUG married his “college sweetheart" MELANIE FLOOD on Friday (BOSTON HERALD, 7/7)....49ers CB NNAMDI ASOMUGHA married actress KERRY WASHINGTON last week in Hailey, Idaho (AP, 7/3).

    WE'RE ENGAGED! In Oklahoma City, Darnell Mayberry reports Thunder F KEVIN DURANT has proposed to WNBA Lynx G MONICA WRIGHT. The pair has been "rumored to be dating since May," and Durant has "attended at least two Lynx games this summer." Durant "hasn't said anything publicly" about the relationship, but Wright has "posted several photos of herself wearing Thunder gear onto her social media accounts" (OKLAHOMAN, 7/8)....Golfer NATALIE GULBIS and former Yale QB and Power Balance co-Owner JOSH RODARMEL “will get married later this year.” Gulbis and Rodarmel met “through a business relationship Power Balance had" with the NBA Kings. Gulbis during her career has had “high-profile links” to golfer DUSTIN JOHNSON and Steelers QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER. However, she said the fact that her relationship with Rodarmel “has not attracted attention has been a joy” (GOLF WORLD, 7/8 issue).

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  • Executive Transactions

    Learfield Sports named MLS Fire Senior Business Development Manager TATIA BENKONVICH Illini Sports Properties Senior Account Exec (Learfield)....College of the Holy Cross AD RICHARD REGAN JR. is "stepping down from his post," which he has held since '98. A national search for his successor "will begin this summer," and Regan will "stay on in his position" to assist during the transition (Holy Cross)....S.F. State Univ. AD MICHAEL SIMPSON retired "after 28 years as a coach and administrator at the school" (S.F. EXAMINER, 7/3)....Univ. of North Carolina-Greensboro Senior Associate AD/Administration BRIAN BATTLE "is no longer employed" at the school. UNCG AD KIM RECORD said that she "does not anticipate filling his position" (NEWS-RECORD.com, 7/5)....Longwood Univ. promoted Assistant AD/Development SCOTT BACON to Associate AD/External Relations, Academic Services Advisor MAYA OZERY to Athletics Academic Services Dir, Athletics Business Operations Manager BRYAN CORNN to Athletics Business Operations Dir and Marketing Assistant WHITNEY CURTIS to Marketing Assistant Dir (Longwood).

    EXECS: English League Championship club Reading FC named BEN WELLS Commercial Dir. Wells previously worked for EPL club Chelsea, Samsung, Philips, adidas, FIFA, the WTA and Premiership Rugby (Reading)....The Stars named JOE MCDONNELL Amateur Scouting Dir and MARK LEACH Head Scout (DALLASNEWS.com, 7/6).

    Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to: editorial@sportsbusinessdaily.com.

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  • Names In The News

    Officials from Wirtz' bank said it is on steady footing

    Chicago-based First Security Trust & Savings Bank, for which Blackhawks Chair ROCKY WIRTZ serves as President, "lost money in the first quarter, at a time when about 8 of 10 Illinois savings banks were profitable." In addition, nearly 16% of First Security's loans "were seriously delinquent, compared with an Illinois average" of 3%. But bank officials said that the institution is "on steadier footing now than it has been in years" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/5). Meanwhile, Wirtz during an Independence Day parade through his hometown of Winnetka, Ill., "drew some of the loudest cheers" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 7/5).

    MUSIC MANIA: Nielsen SoundScan data shows that sales of "Chelsea Dagger," the soundtrack to the Blackhawks' championship run, have "hit 9,000 units -- purchases or downloads -- a sharp increase of the usual sales of a few hundred to 1,000 per week in the U.S." Nielsen Senior VP/Analytics & Client Relations DAVID BAKULA said that more than "half the sales nationwide were made to Chicagoans." Still, "Chelsea Dagger" sales have "fallen well shy of their peak of 23,000 units during the final week of the Blackhawks' 2010 championship season" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/7).

    STEELY DAN: Steelers Chair Emeritus and former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland DAN ROONEY's hope to have the NFL play a regular-season game in Dublin "got another airing" Thursday. Steelers QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER, who accompanied Rooney for a July 4 celebration "at his former residence," said, "I would like it for him. That's how much he means to me and I think everyone on our team would say that. Even if guys said they would never want to play in London, 100 percent of the guys on our team would say they would play in Dublin for Mr. Rooney" (IRISH EXAMINER, 7/5).

    CELEBRATION FIT FOR A KING: The 40th anniversary of the WTA was celebrated last week at Wimbledon. MARGARET COURT, EVONNE GOOLAGONG CAWLEY, CHRIS EVERT, MARTINA NAVRATILOVA, MONICA SELES, MARTINA HINGIS, MARIA SHARAPOVA and SERENA WILLIAMS were among those in attendance. But they "honored only one with a standing ovation: BILLIE JEAN KING" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/5). SI.com's Jon Wertheim noted "every former No. 1 player from 1973 to the present" was at the ceremony, excluding STEFFI GRAF, KIM CLIJSTERS (who is pregnant) and VICTORIA AZARENKA and VENUS WILLIAMS (who are recovering from injuries) (SI.com, 7/7).

    PICK & ROLL
    : The "intensely private" Basketball HOFer JOHN STOCKTON in his autobiography "ASSISTED" "successfully makes the transition to entertaining author." The anecdotes Stockton shares are "often witty, poignant and self-deprecating." He gives readers a "truly unique look at his career and his relationships with those who helped him along the way." The book is scheduled for release on Oct. 28 by Deseret Book. It is co-authored by his junior high coach KERRY PICKETT (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 7/8).

    NAMES: Lakers G KOBE BRYANT has the greatest net worth in the NBA at $220M, followed by Nets F KEVIN GARNETT at $190M and Heat F LEBRON JAMES at $130M (Wealth-X)....ESPN NFL analyst RAY LEWIS was “unable to take part in a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro due to a foot injury and fever.” Lewis is in Tanzania “to raise money and awareness about the need for clean water in East Africa” (BALTIMORESUN.com, 7/6)….In N.Y., Mike Lupica wrote JAY-Z and his Roc Nation Sports agency in “three years or four or five … will be right at the top” of lists of the “most powerful people in sports." But that “doesn’t mean that all of the other agents in pro sports, starting with the top guys, are going to hide under their desks” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/7)….CBS President & CEO LES MOONVES “sold 450,000 shares of CBS stock” last week for about $22M (LATIMES.com, 7/5)….The ECHL named Evansville IceMen Senior Account Exec MATT KIEL Ticket Exec of the Year (ECHL).

    IN MEMORY: Alberta Sports HOFer and former broadcaster BILLY POWERS and his wife DONNA were found “stabbed to death in their bed” on Thursday. Powers retired in October ’09 “after almost 50 years in the sports broadcasting and communications business” in Canada (CP, 7/5).

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