SBD/December 23, 2013/People and Pop Culture

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  • T'Wolves Co-Founder Marv Wolfenson Dies, Brought NBA Back To Minnesota In '87

    Wolfenson (r) and his business partner came close to buying the Jazz in the '80s

    T'Wolves co-Founder MARV WOLFENSON, who with his "lifelong business partner brought the NBA back to Minnesota," died Saturday in California at the age of 87, according to Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Wolfenson and team co-Founder HARVEY RATNER "purchased an NBA expansion franchise in 1987 and then privately financed the construction of Target Center, which opened as the home for their fledgling Timberwolves three years later." They partnered for 54 years and early in their business careers "helped try to keep the Minneapolis Lakers from moving away to California" in '60. Wolfenson and Ratner in the early '80s "pursued the Twins before CARL POHLAD bought them and a few years later they came within hours of striking a deal" to buy the Jazz. The two eventually paid $32.5M for an "expansion franchise, saying they wanted to return the NBA to Minnesota." The costs of building Target Center "overextended them financially and forced the pair to sell the team." The duo in '94 "struck a deal with a New Orleans group that planned to move the Wolves after only five seasons of existence." But NBA Commissioner DAVID STERN stepped in and "brokered a deal that sold the team" for $88M to current Owner GLEN TAYLOR. The city of Minneapolis "bought Target Center the next year" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/22). In St. Paul, Andy Greder noted despite Wolfenson not having a T'Wolves stake for nearly 20 years, "as recently as last month, the first thing he did each morning was put on his Wolves hat and his credential." T'Wolves President CHRIS WRIGHT said, "That's pretty meaningful. Shows how close he felt to our team." Wright, who has a picture of Wolfenson on his desk, said, "It was his life. It was his passion, even when Glen owned the team" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 12/22). 

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  • Former USOC Exec Dir Harvey Schiller Tabbed As New Head Of USA Team Handball

    Schiller also will continue to serve as America's Cup Vice Chair

    USA Team Handball named DR. HARVEY SCHILLER as its new President & Chair. The former USOC Exec Dir and Turner Sports President will begin in January. It is not a full-time role, so he will continue to serve as America’s Cup Vice Chair. Schiller wants to bring former, high-profile college and pro sports athletes into the Team Handball organization in hopes that they can raise the profile of the sport before and during future Olympics. He hopes to build a team loaded with former NBA and NFL players who can compete against the world’s best. Europe has a pro team handball league. USA Team Handball has struggled financially in recent years. It has not fielded a men’s or women’s team in an Olympics since '96. In a statement, Schiller said his job is to "assist the new leadership of USA Team Handball in the re-organization of what is a fun, exciting, cost-effective global team and training sport."

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  • Vikings Owners Hit With $103M Penalty For Defrauding N.J. Business Partners

    Zygi (l) and Mark Wilf have been ordered to post a $110M bond in the case

    New Jersey Superior Court Judge DEANNE WILSON on Friday "punished" Vikings Owners ZYGI and MARK WILF and their cousin, LEONARD WILF, with $103M in "damages, fees, interest and expenses for defrauding and deceiving business partners in the operation of an apartment complex," according to Mitchell & Spencer of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Wilson ordered the Wilfs to post a $110M bond by Jan. 8 that will be "held for three years or until they exhaust their appeals in the long-running case." Wilson also allowed the Wilfs to "file a second appeal of her order that their personal wealth be made public as part of the suit." The Wilfs’ attorney, former New Jersey Attorney General PETER HARVEY, "promised a comprehensive appeal of what he called 'a number of serious errors' by the judge." Harvey said that the Wilfs will "seek to block the release of their personal net worth." State officials said that the ruling is "unlikely to affect the Wilfs’ participation in a public-private partnership" to build the Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis or their "opinion of the Wilfs as business partners in light of the New Jersey ruling." Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Chair MICHELE KELM-HELGEN said, "It won't have any impact on the stadium financing. They're clearly able to continue with their investment" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/22).

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  • Executive Transactions

    Kansas State Univ. AD JOHN CURRIE agreed to a contract extension that will "increase his salary and secure his services" until '19. The deal "adds one year to his current contract" and raises his salary by $100,000 to $575,000. His salary starting in '16 "will increase $25,000 per year until his contract expires." If he remains at KSU on June 30, 2019, he will receive a $500,000 bonus (KANSAS.com, 12/20)....Rutgers Univ. named Univ. of Missouri Associate AD/Development SARAH BAUMGARTNER Senior Associate AD (AP, 12/20)....The Raiders promoted AIRIKUH ANDERSON and WILLIE MCHARGUE to Dir of Corporate Sponsorship Sales, JASON ANDREA to Manager of Corporate Sponsorship Sales, FARNOUSH ANSARI to Dir of Client Services & Corporate Partnerships, and ZOE PANAYIDES, RONAN BAYNES and DAVID MANLEY to Manager of Client Services for Corporate Partnerships (Raiders).

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

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  • Names In The News

    Pro Football HOFer JERRY RICE has invested in social-networking startup Vobok, "an audio version of Twitter that Rice is now promoting, one 30-second clip at a time." Rice "believes people will connect more with 30 seconds of audio than they do to Twitter's 140-character text format." Users can "download the Vobok app from iTunes or Google Play, record messages and then share a link with their social networking followers." That link "brings users back to the Vobok website, where they can listen to the message" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/21).

    SNOW FORECAST: Skier LINDSEY VONN on Sunday was profiled in the Wall Street Journal's "Weekend Confidential" feature. When Vonn "retires as a professional," she will "likely focus more on Ski Girls Rock, her Vail-based ski school for girls, which she considers a 'girl-empowerment program.'" However, Vonn said that she "doesn't plan to retire soon." She said, "Skiing takes so much out of me, and when I start a family I want to do it 100%. But that's a long way off" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/21).

    DOING GOOD DEEDS: NFL Jets WR DAVID NELSON was "blown away" by the story of 15-year-old orphan DAVION ONLY. The boy this past weekend was "a guest of Nelson and his organization" in N.Y., where he and a friend were able to "tour Manhattan, including trips to Rockefeller Center, FAO Schwartz and Central Park." Only also met "with Nelson and other players" yesterday before the Browns-Jets game (AP, 12/20)....The Nike Equality PAC, which aims to fund an effort to legalize gay marriage in Oregon, "reported Friday it reached its $280,000 funding goal." The company said that the PAC would "be funded by $100,000 from the company itself and another $180,000 from Nike executives." Nike co-Founder & Chair PHIL KNIGHT "kicked in $10,000" (Portland OREGONIAN, 12/21).

    NAMES: Steinberg Sports & Entertainment CEO LEIGH STEINBERG "is trying to make a name for himself all over again" and is "cleared to represent football clients again." He said, "No one is ever going to represent eight players picked first in the NFL draft. It’s like against nature. That’s not what I am angling for. If I can help one player or a group of players, it will be enough" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/22)....ESPN Coordinating Producer NANCY COONEY and golf writer SUSAN FORNOFF were given the Association for Women in Sports Media's '14 Mary Garber Pioneer Award, the organization's highest honor. Cooney has been at ESPN since '07, after working for 17 years at the Philadelphia Inquirer. Fornoff was a member of USA Today's original staff and later worked 15 years at a variety of jobs with the S.F. Examiner and S.F. Chronicle (AWSM)....Former NBAers JOHN STARKS and ANTHONY MASON reportedly are opening a N.Y. location of DC-based restaurant chain Custom Fuel Pizza (N.Y. POST, 12/23)….U.S. Sen. JOHN MCCAIN (R-Ariz.) is "a big fan of the Coyotes," and "talks incessantly about his new Coyotes app" (N.Y. TIMES MAGAZINE, 12/22 issue)….Golfer CRISTIE KERR and her husband/agent, ERIK STEVENS, announced the birth of their first child, a son, on Saturday. MASON KERR STEVENS "was born via a surrogate" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 12/22)….Heat G DWYANE WADE asked actress GABRIELLE UNION, whom he began dating in ’07, "to marry him at the team’s holiday party" on Saturday. Wade posted a picture on Instagram of "the couple’s hands with a large diamond engagement ring on Union’s finger" (MIAMI HERALD, 12/23).

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