Sunoco Debuts "Essence Of Racing" Campaign Executive Transactions Isiah Thomas Expected Backlash Over Hiring FanDuel Brings On Most Of Zynga Sports Team Georgia Approves Increased Athletic Budget Kentucky Adding Ribbon Boards At Rupp IndyCar Ponders How To Attract Fans Long Term Jeff Gordon Hired As Full-Time Analyst For Fox Danica's Sponsorship Status To Be Telling For NASCAR Classified Advertisements
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In the search for MLB Commissioner BUD SELIG's successor, no one is "being touted behind the scenes among baseball owners" more than Allen & Co. Managing Dir STEVE GREENBERG, but the "trouble is convincing" him to do it, according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Greenberg not only is "respected among owners and MLB executives, but he's also a personal favorite" of Selig and White Sox Chair JERRY REINSDORF. Greenberg negotiated local TV rights "for nine clubs and is working on a TV deal" with Cardinals Chair & CEO BILL DEWITT JR. It also was "Greenberg's original business plan that was used for the launch of MLB Network." Selig said, "He's been a great adviser for us, and he's been really involved." Reinsdorf added, "If he wanted to, he'd be a great candidate." But Greenberg said, "Early on, I told Bud I was not going to be a candidate. I'm sticking to that." He added, "I know what's involved. It's a 24/7, 365-day schedule that the commissioner has to keep to do it right. The three years I spent in the commissioner's office was exhausting." Former MLB Commissioner FAY VINCENT, who hired Greenberg, thinks that the job "will eventually go" to MLB COO ROB MANFRED. Vincent: "Manfred is clearly Selig's choice, and since Selig is undefeated in politics in baseball, Manfred will get it. Manfred would be a wonderful choice. But if you want the best choice, it's Steve" (USA TODAY, 7/18). Meanwhile, MLB Exec VP/Baseball Operations JOE TORRE said of himself as a potential candidate, "If the owners feel I can help baseball, I'm willing to do whatever they want me to do." But he added, "I don't envision it; I don't anticipate it. I'm certainly not lobbying for it. ... I'm going to be 74 years old." Torre: "Whatever the owners want me to do, I'll do it" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/18).
The Meadowlands Area YMCA is "on its way to opening a permanent home after 94 years without one, thanks in part to a $250,000 donation" by NFL Giants President & CEO JOHN MARA, according to John Brennan of the Bergen RECORD. A check was "presented by Mara on Thursday," and the funds will be "used to help build the Mara Family Day Care Center at the site, which will serve 120 children per day." Mara said agreeing to have his family’s name on the center, which will cost $1.1M, was “something we don’t normally do.” But he said that it was "suggested that the title would help with subsequent fundraising" (Bergen RECORD, 7/18). Mara said, "We wanted to do something impactful in our backyard. This is about as close to our backyard as you could possibly get” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 7/18).
NOT HEDGING HIS BETS: In N.Y., Ebenezer Samuel notes Mara on Thursday "reiterated his opposition to New Jersey’s most recent attempts to legalize state-sanctioned sports betting." Mara said, “Certainly we’re opposed to it, but let’s wait and see what happens. They’re trying all these different ways to circumvent the law.” He added, "If it’s helpful for the state -- and I have questions about whether it is -- but if it’s helpful for the state, I don’t really have a problem with it" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/18).
IMG Senior VP/Global Head of Consulting DAVID ABRUTYN is leaving the agency after nearly 15 years. In an e-mail across IMG Consulting and to senior agency execs, Abrutyn said he will leave in early August "to pursue the next opportunity in my career." Abrutyn started at IMG in '99 and helped grow its corporate consulting business to encompass 150 employees across 20 countries. He worked in corporate marketing at the NHL from '97-99 and was Associate Publisher at THE DAILY from '94-97. There is no word on a successor. However, the position reports to IMG Sports & Entertainment President GEORGE PYNE, who would likely assume those duties on at least a temporary basis. One likely candidate would be ED HORNE, who joined IMG Consulting a year ago as Senior VP/Americas. "It is with the confidence in all of you and the management team at WME/IMG that I feel the time is right for me to find my next professional challenge," Abrutyn wrote in his e-mail. He could not be reached for comment.
The WNBA Mercury on Thursday night won their 12th straight game, securing the league’s best record heading into the All-Star break. Mercury VP ANN MEYERS DRYSDALE expects the excitement surrounding the success of this year’s team to spill over into Saturday’s All-Star Game at U.S. Airways Center. It is the first time Phoenix has hosted the game since ’00, and only the second time that the event has been held on the West Coast. During the regular season, Meyers Drysdale, who also does work for the Suns, serves as a TV analyst for Mercury games. She normally will spend all day attending shootarounds, interviewing coaches and preparing game notes, but for the ASG, Meyers Drysdale gets to spend the weekend enjoying the game from a fan perspective.
THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY: The WNBA and U.S. Airways Center staff, they’re kind of taking care of everything as far as getting the arena ready. I’m hosting an event at 7:30pm PT and I’m on a panel at 5:00pm. The panel is kind of a WNBA panel -- I know (WNBA President) LAUREL RICHIE is on it and (former WNBAer) LISA LESLIE is on it. We’ll be talking to season-ticket holders and business women in the community. It’s an event for us to speak about being in the workforce and where our positions are and what we’re doing and how to get there. The 7:30pm event is over at the Hotel Palomar and I believe that the panel is at the Verve Lounge, which is inside the U.S. Airways Center. ESPNW is having a reception afterwards, also in the arena, and I am on the ESPNW board so I will be attending that event. And Majerle’s Sports Grille always hosts things -- DAN MAJERLE has been very supportive of the WNBA and he’s got his restaurant and hosts a lot of players over there.
NUMBER ONE FAN: I have another event that I have to host at 11:00am on Saturday, and that’s up at The Greene House in Scottsdale with (Mercury coach) SANDY BRONDELLO. We’ll be talking about the Mercury and what the season has been like so far. Then I’ll head to the arena where there will be TV hits going on all morning long before our 12:30pm PT tipoff. Nobody has asked me to do anything (TV wise), so I’ll sit and enjoy the game. I know a lot of people in the truck and so forth, and I like to go around and personally thank people for coming. I’ll go around the crowd and go to different areas that people are sitting. I’m just very appreciative that they’re at the game and that’s not just for the All-Star Game, but for the Mercury too. It’s just important that they feel welcome since they’re so supportive of all of us.
STARRY NIGHT: Every year the All-Star game gets better and better. I don’t know how the coaches are able to break down the players because the players are all so good. Certainly we’re really excited because the Phoenix Mercury have three players with DIANA TAURASI, BRITTNEY GRINER and CANDICE DUPREE on the All-Star team representing the West. We’re expecting a very good crowd. I’m not privy to what’s going on with the ticket sales and so forth, but I know that there’s been a good response and I know ESPN is pretty excited for it to be here. I know that the X factor -- the Phoenix Mercury fans -- have been very supportive of the team and I think the fact that we’ve got three players in it is pretty exciting.
EASY LIKE A SUNDAY MORNING: Sundays are my church day. I like to get up and go to mass in the morning and then workout a little bit if I can. I try to work out every morning. I can’t run -- the knees are gone, shoulders are gone, the elbows are gone, ankles and whatever else -- so I just walk. I try to get a couple miles in and then I do a lot of swimming or I might go hit some golf balls. I still do (basketball) camps through the Mercury and Suns, so I’m still around the game and I love to go out and just toss the ball up a little bit but not as much as I would like to. That will always be my high: being able to go out and shoot the basketball.
ALL IN THE FAMILY: I’ve got family in town so this weekend is kind of special because I get to spend time with them. I’m one of 11 children -- I have five brothers and five sisters -- so two of my sisters and one sister-in-law will be coming to the game on Saturday. Then my oldest child, D.J., his birthday is next week so I’m going to take him and some family members out to dinner on Sunday to celebrate. I have three kids -- D.J. will be 27, DARREN is 24 and my daughter DREW is 21. The younger two are in Southern California and D.J. in the Phoenix area. Most (of our family) is in Southern California, but everybody is still pretty close. My mom is still alive and still in the same house that we all grew up in. She’s been there 50 years.
NCAA National Coordinator of Men's Basketball Officiating JOHN ADAMS will retire following the '15 Final Four. Adams, who has held the position since '08, "worked in conjunction with the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee to choose officials for the tourney, but perhaps his biggest role was bringing more cohesive officiating to the college game." The NCAA "intends to begin a search for Adams' replacement this fall" (ESPN.com, 7/17).
EXECS: The Big East named Villanova Dir of Women's Basketball Operations BRIANA WEISS Dir of Conference Operations, which will see her assist in digital network operations and provide support for both basketball teams and select Olympic sports (Big East)....The Browns named former NFL Giants VP/Communications PETER JOHN-BAPTISTE to head their PR department (“Fox Sports Live,” FS1, 7/17)....The Hurricanes promoted DARREN YORKE to Assistant to the GM & Video Scout, MIKE SUNDHEIM to VP/Communications & Team Services and KYLE HANLIN to Senior Dir of Communications & Team Services (NEWSOBSERVER.com, 7/16)....Metro State Univ. named former Nuggets trainer JIM GILLEN Associate AD/Facilities & Community Engagement (DENVERPOST.com, 7/17)....UFC named former S.F. Chronicle NFL columnist NANCY GAY VP & UFC.com Editor-in-Chief (REVIEWJOURNAL.com, 7/17)....The Univ. of Southern Connecticut named Univ. of Bridgeport AD JAY MORAN to the same position (COURANT.com, 7/17).
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Fox' JAY GLAZER will introduce MICHAEL STRAHAN at his Pro Football HOF induction on Aug. 2, while JOHN MADDEN will introduce RAY GUY and MARV LEVY will introduce ANDRE REED. DERRICK BROOKS, CLAUDE HUMPHREY and WALTER JONES each will be presented by one of their children. AENEAS WILLIAMS will be presented by his father (NEWSDAY.com, 7/17). SNY's Chris Carlin said of Glazer, "It was his relationship with Strahan that launched him as an insider in the league. This to me, though, is a little sketchy because it blurs that line between reporter and player" ("Loud Mouths," SNY, 7/17).
GOOD OLE ROCKY TOPICS: The Univ. of Tennessee on Thursday announced that JEFF JARNIGAN will be the new Neyland Stadium PA announcer. Jarnigan follows the late BOBBY DENTON, who held the role for 48 years. Jarnigan has served as the PA announcer for UT men's basketball at Thompson-Boling Arena "for the past nine years as well as for the Orange & White Game at Neyland Stadium for the last eight years" (TENNESSEAN.com, 7/17)....Attorney DAVID BURKHALTER said that UT women's basketball coach emeritus PAT SUMMITT "won't be called to testify in her former spokeswoman's federal job discrimination lawsuit and probably isn't competent to testify anyway." Former UT Media Dir DEBBY JENNINGS said that she "lost her job when she took up for Summitt when Summitt believed she was being forced to retire due to a diagnosis of early onset dementia" (KNOXVILLE NEWS SENTINEL, 7/18).
AWARDS & HONORS: Phillies Senior Advisor to the GM CHARLIE MANUEL "will be inducted onto the team's Wall of Fame during Alumni Weekend." Manuel will be honored on Aug. 9 before the Mets-Phillies game (PHILLY.com, 7/18)....Atlantic 10 Commissioner BERNADETTE MCGLADE was named '14 Administrator of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Women's Athletic Administrators (A-10).
NAMES: Steelers WR ANTONIO BROWN has rejoined Rosenhaus Sports as a client after leaving for Roc Nation Sports/CAA Sports in April. He will be repped by DREW ROSENHAUS (Liz Mullen, Staff Writer)....CLAYTON HALUNEN, the attorney for former NFLer CHRIS KLUWE, said that he and the Vikings will “continue to talk and engage in settlement discussions after the two sides met Thursday.” Kluwe filed a discrimination suit against the team two days ago (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/18)….The Crown Publishing Group on Thursday announced that it will turn MLB Cardinals manager MIKE MATHENY’s "'manifesto,' a letter he wrote to detail how parents and coaches should approach youth baseball, into a book, ‘THE MATHENY MANIFESTO’” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 7/18)….Actor STEPHAN JAMES will play the late JESSE OWENS in the Focus Features film “RACE.” Principal photography is “scheduled to begin July 24 in Montreal and on location at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin” (NBCSPORTS.com, 7/17)….Red Sox P JON LESTER and his wife, FARRAH, on Thursday hosted a fundraiser “for the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation at the House of Blues” in Boston (BOSTON HERALD, 7/18)....CFL B.C. Lions WR ARLAND BRUCE on Wednesday in British Columbia Supreme Court "launched a lawsuit alleging the league failed to protect him from the adverse effects of a concussion." He "is seeking unspecified general, special and punitive damages" (THESTAR.com, 7/17).