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Only five days remain to submit an entry for the '14 Sports Business Awards. This Friday is the deadline -- Jan. 10. We are looking for the best of the best in the world of sports business. We are honoring the best in 15 categories, including:
* Sports Team
* Sports League
* Sports Event
* Sports Executive
* Athletic Director
* Sports Media
* Sports Television
* Digital Sports Media
* Talent Representation and Management
* Corporate Consulting, Marketing and Client Services
* Property Consulting, Sales and Client Services
* Sports Event and Experiential Marketing
* Sports Sponsor
* Sports Facility
* Sports Technology
Submit your entry at www.sports-business-awards.com.
Executive Editor Abraham Madkour & Champions project editor Tom Stinson discuss the 2014 class of The Champions.
This year's recipients are:
* JOAN CRONAN, the exec in charge of arguably the most successful women's athletic department in history.
* WAYNE EMBRY, the player-personnel man who paired OSCAR ROBERTSON together with LEW ALCINDOR in '70 and later broke down front-office barriers by becoming the NBA's first African-American GM -- and an extremely successful one at that.
* RICK HENDRICK, the architect of the modern-day multicar racing operation.
* MICHAEL ILITCH, who became a pizza guy after his dreams of playing big league baseball flamed out, only to end up owning the team he dreamed of playing for, and winning championships in his hometown.
* VERNE LUNDQUIST, a trusted voice on national sports broadcasts for 40 years, and the first from the TV talent side of the business to be honored as a Champion -- "Oh my goodness!"
* BILL SCHMIDT, the first Olympic athlete to be named a Champion, who is more widely known in sports business circles as the sponsorship guru who helped invent sideline inventory as we know it today.
Joan Cronan was head of the most successful women's athletic department for nearly 30 years. As women's AD at the Univ. of Tennessee, where she still serves as Senior Adviser to the Chancellor and Women's AD Emeritus, Cronan oversaw Tennessee's growth from seven women's sports to 11; more than quadrupled the department's budget; amassed 10 national championships and 29 SEC titles, including all eight of PAT SUMMITT's NCAA crowns; and with Summitt helped turn women's basketball into a revenue-producing sport. She also stepped in as Vice Chancellor and interim AD in '11, the first person in Tennessee history to hold that position, and outside of Knoxville has served on the NCAA D-I Leadership Council, the NCAA Exec Committee, NCAA Management Council and been elected president of NACDA, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.
Wayne Embry is a true NBA pioneer. After a stellar 11-year playing career, the five-time All-Star went on to become the NBA's first African-American GM with the Bucks in '72. He then worked as GM of the Cavaliers, where he was named NBA Exec of the Year in '92 and '98 while paving the way for other minority sports execs -- once again making history in '94 by becoming the first African-American NBA team President and COO. In all, in 20 years as an NBA GM, Embry's teams made the playoffs 13 times. Embry's contributions landed him in the Naismith Memorial Basketball HOF in '99. Since '04, he has worked as a Senior Adviser for the Raptors, where he also served as interim GM in '06.
Rick Hendrick started a NASCAR Winston Cup team in '84 without a sponsor and only enough money to fund a handful of races. He was close to shutting the team down when driver GEOFF BODINE won a race at Martinsville, Va., a victory that helped the team land a sponsor and continue to operate. The rest, as they say, is history. Over the next three decades, Hendrick turned that underfunded, one-car outfit into the most dominant team in NASCAR history. He has won 11 Cup championships and fielded cars for two of the sport's top drivers, JEFF GORDON and JIMMIE JOHNSON. He pioneered today's multicar teams and cut revolutionary sponsorship deals that emphasized bonuses tied to sponsorship. And as he did all of that, he expanded his business from 12 local car dealerships in Charlotte to 87 dealerships nationwide that do more than $6B in annual revenue.
A Tigers' farmhand for three years, Michael Ilitch utilized the wealth he accumulated as founder of the Little Caesars pizza chain to become one of the most successful sports team owners of the last half-century. Ilitch purchased the Red Wings in '82 and the team went on to win the Stanley Cup four times -- in '97, '98, '02 and '08. He then realized a childhood dream in '92 by purchasing the Tigers, seeing the opening of Comerica Park in '00 and winning two AL pennants in the last seven years. A revered contributor to the Detroit community, Ilitch received the Ellis Island Medal of Freedom in '97 and was inducted into the Hockey HOF in '03.
Having just completed his 50th year of sports broadcasting, Verne Lundquist has provided the soundtrack for some of the biggest moments in sports. Who can watch a clip of JACK NICKLAUS draining a long putt at the '86 Masters without hearing Lundquist exclaim "Maybe ... Yes, sir!"? Now the voice of the SEC on CBS, as well as appearing as part of the network's March Madness coverage, Lundquist is still going strong as one of the icons of sports broadcasting, covering the biggest games and the biggest moments, with his signature calls of "Yes, sir!" and "Oh my goodness!" still entertaining fans everywhere.
Having compiled one of the most unique and interesting careers in sports, if not any industry, Bill Schmidt is best known as the head of Gatorade sports marketing in the '80s and '90s, a time of tremendous growth for one of sports' iconic brands. In different circles, he is known as one of America's greatest javelin throwers, a bronze medalist in the '72 Munich Games and the only American to medal in the event in more than 60 years. Along the way he has been VP/Sports at the '84 L.A. Games and Dir of Sports at the '82 World's Fair, CEO of Oakley and owner of his own consultancy, as well as a teacher, coach, professor and serviceman in the U.S. Army. Yet it was during his 15 years at Gatorade that Schmidt made his biggest contributions to sports. He helped make sports drinks the endemic product they are today, from the "Gatorade bath" and the "Be Like Mike" campaign that helped create MICHAEL JORDAN as a marketing icon, to much of the sideline inventory that's now taken for granted.
SportsBusiness Journal/Daily will profile each of these honorees and tell their stories in separate issues, beginning with the Jan. 27 issue and running through the March 3 issue. In addition, the six Champions will be honored March 19 at the IMG World Congress of Sports in Dana Point, Calif.
Broadcasting HOFer JERRY COLEMAN, a "two-time war hero who became one of the most endearing figures in Padres history," died yesterday afternoon at the age of 89, according to a front-page piece by Chris Jenkins of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. Coleman died at Scripps Memorial Hospital from "complications of head injuries he'd suffered in a fall last month." Several close friends said that he had been "in and out of the hospital since the early-December fall ... and also contracted pneumonia." He "wore the Padres uniform for only a year," but in 42 years as broadcaster of Padres games, Coleman "became the link between the major league team and San Diego." Coleman's "mistakes and misspeaks ... made him even more of an icon in the community" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/6). MLB.com's Corey Brock noted Coleman "called games on radio" for the Padres from '72 through last season. The "only exception came when he managed the team" in '80. He was elected to the Padres' HOF in '01. Coleman started out "calling the national game of the week for CBS, and he began calling Yankees games in 1963." But craving a "change of scenery, Coleman bolted for the West Coast -- without a job -- before getting a job as part of the Angels' broadcast team." Not long thereafter, late Padres GM BUZZIE BAVASI "convinced him to come to San Diego, where he became the lead broadcaster" in '72 (MLB.com, 1/5). The AP's Bernie Wilson noted Coleman was "known for calls of 'Oh, Doctor!' and 'You can hang a star on that!' after big plays." He also received the Ford C. Frick Award from the National Baseball HOF in '05. The Padres had "planned to keep Coleman's statue at Petco Park open" until 11:30pm PT last night so fans "could pay tribute" (AP, 1/5).
The Astros promoted KEVIN GOLDSTEIN to Dir of Pro Scouting, STEPHANIE WILKA to Specialist of Int’l Operations & Associate Counsel and PETE PUTILA to Coordinator of Baseball Operations (Astros)….The MLB Cardinals promoted GARY LAROCQUE to Dir of Player Development, CHRIS CORREA to Dir of Baseball Development, TONY FERREIRA to Baseball Operations Assistant for Player Development & Pro Scouting, JOHN VUCH to Dir of Baseball Administration and LINDA BRAUER to Senior Administrative Assistant to the GM. Dir of Player Personnel MATT SLATER will oversee what GM JOHN MOZELIAK “described as the Cardinals’ ‘new initiative of emerging markets’” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/6)….Virginia Tech Senior Associate AD and Senior Woman Administrator SHARON MCCLOSKEY became interim AD on Jan. 1. The 58-year-old McCloskey “does not aspire to be” the new AD. VT “aims to hire” the successor to JIM WEAVER next month, but McCloskey is "prepared to serve as along as needed” (Hampton Roads DAILY PRESS, 1/5).
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In Jacksonville, Garry Smits reported Florida State football coach JIMBO FISHER's base pay "will be $225,000 per year" under his new contract. Fisher with compensation for speaking engagements, TV and radio shows "will receive an additional $3,275,000" in '14, rising to $4,275,000 in '18 (JACKSONVILLE.com, 1/5). In Miami, Van Sickler & Bousquet reported Florida Gov. RICK SCOTT and former Florida Gov. CHARLIE CRIST at the Vizio BCS National Championship Game tonight between FSU and Auburn will be "collecting campaign money for their own future competition." Scott will be in a luxury suite at the Rose Bowl with "well-heeled Republicans," while Crist will be the guest of honor at an event tomorrow night "hosted by entertainment industry executives" including Tennis Channel Chair & CEO KEN SOLOMON (MIAMI HERALD, 1/5).
COURT REPORT: Rockies co-Owner CHARLIE MONFORT on Friday "pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol, and he was immediately sentenced to 24 months of supervised probation" (GREELEY TRIBUNE, 1/4). Monfort's alcohol use "will be monitored" during his probation. Weld County (Colo.) district attorney's office spokesperson PAMELA JOHNSON said that Monfort will have to "wear an ankle bracelet that can detect alcohol use and then submit up to two breath tests a day." Monfort has "been in alcohol treatment for the past two months" (AP, 1/4).
GOING ONCE, GOING TWICE: Northwestern Univ. professors SANDEEP BALIGA and JEFFREY ELY created Purple Pricing, an auction method of ticket sales that helped the school "increase its revenue" from its football games against Ohio State and Michigan in '13 "by hundreds of thousands of dollars." Baliga and Ely have "created a company called Cheap Talk" to offer consulting serves. NU so far is "their only client" and "a pro bono one" at that. But NU Deputy AD MIKE POLISKY said that he has "fielded calls from interested pro baseball and basketball teams and other universities" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/5).
NAMES: The ORLANDO SENTINEL's list of "The 10 Most Powerful People in Central Florida" includes Magic CEO ALEX MARTINS at No. 5. He is "involved in many projects off the hardwood -- including the team's plans to redevelop a chunk of downtown as an entertainment district and efforts to address homelessness" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 1/1)....Chargers GM TOM TELESCO is one of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE's "People To Watch In 2014." Telesco's "anonymity endures" as he is "barely noticeable" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/5)....Olympic gold medalists and former NHLers STEVE YZERMAN and NICKLAS LIDSTROM will enter the Int'l Ice Hockey Federation HOF as part of its '14 class in May (AP, 1/3)....Former MLBer AUBREY HUFF said that he has “officially retired from baseball and will pursue a career in broadcasting with Pac-12 Networks” (MLB.com, 1/4)....Heat assistant coach JUWAN HOWARD “picked up” a 5,409-square-foot Coral Gables, Fla., home for $3.4M (BIZJOURNALS.com, 1/3)....The Michigan State football team the night before winning the Rose Bowl “got a sneak preview” of “300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE” -- the sequel to the ’07 film “300” (N.Y. POST, 1/6).