SBJ/September 30 - October 6, 2002/Other News

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  • ADs ask NCAA to simplify rule-making

    Division I-A athletic directors, frustrated with the current NCAA governance structure, are calling for the organization to simplify its rule-making processes.

    At its annual meeting last week, the Division I-A Athletic Directors Association, which comprises ADs from all 117 I-A schools, decided to forward a recommendation to the NCAA asking it to simplify its legislative cycle from two cycles a year to one. The change would make proposed legislation easier to track and give ADs more time to study the issues.

    The recommendation is one of what is expected to be several that will come from the I-A athletic directors group in the coming months, said the association's executive director, Dutch Baughman.

    Earlier this year, the association publicly stated its unhappiness with the current NCAA governance structure and established its own committee of athletic directors and faculty athletic representatives to study NCAA governance. As part of their research, the committee, which is chaired by Iowa Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby, sent out a governance survey this spring to all I-A athletic departments. The results of the study were discussed last Monday and Tuesday and used to help develop recommendations to forward to the NCAA.

    In addition to its NCAA governance discussions, the I-A association decided last week that it needs to develop its own system to inform and help its members wade through pending Division I rules and regulations.

    Since a representative form of governance was put in place for Division I in 1997, Division I-A athletic directors said they have felt that they are being left out of the NCAA's governing process and that there's a feeling of disenfranchisement from the national governing body. To address that problem the association, through its board of trustees and executive director, will develop a process that will provide pending legislative information throughout the year to its members.

    In addition, time will be carved out during future I-A annual meetings for a legislative caucus. The caucus will encourage discussion of key legislation at a national level, recapturing what was lost as result of the 1997 NCAA restructuring, Baughman said.

    Print | Tags: Colleges, NCAA
  • AFL goes 1-1 in off-season

    The Arena Football League has long talked of international expansion, but its first foray into a foreign market didn't go so well: The Toronto Phantoms have folded after two seasons of play.

    Team officials notified the AFL last week that they would drop out of the league for financial reasons.

    "The main thing is a lack of financial commitment from all our investors for the 2003 season," said Phantoms President Rob Godfrey. "We budgeted to lose money for three years, but in the first two years, we lost more than we budgeted."

    Godfrey refused to reveal how much money the team lost but said the exchange rate alone cost the team upwards of $500,000 a year.

    "We didn't blow the doors off in attendance, and we were battling the dollar," he said. "We were taking in Canadian [dollars] and paying out American [dollars], and it hurt us."

    Last year, the Phantoms had an average paid attendance of 6,975, compared to 6,922 during the previous season. The Phantoms ranked 14th out of the AFL's 16 teams in average attendance.

    The AFL's new television deal, which begins this season with NBC, was also a factor in the team's demise. The AFL moved up its schedule to February through June rather than April through August to accommodate NBC. That switch posed major scheduling problems for the Phantoms, who shared Air Canada Centre with the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs and the NBA's Toronto Raptors.

    "It was hard to get good dates," Godfrey said.

    While AFL officials are banking on the television deal to boost visibility and attract corporate partners, Phantoms officials said a lack of sponsors was another factor in the decision to shut down.

    "This year there was a decline in the number of our sponsors, and we are in a crowded market," Godfrey said, refusing to disclose how many sponsors the team lost. "There was just too much competition."

    The Phantoms franchise is owned by 16 partners, including Rogers Communications, which owns 50 percent of the team. The investment group paid about $7 million for the franchise, which was known as the New England Sea Wolves until it was relocated to Toronto for the 2001 season. Phantoms investors will try to reach a financial settlement with the AFL over the terms of the contraction.

    The AFL will begin its 2003 season in February with 16 teams, including the expansion Denver Crush, owned by former Denver Broncos star John Elway and Broncos owner Pat Bowlen.

    The league also is hoping to add teams in Philadelphia and New Orleans. Both cities may join in 2004, said league spokesman Chris McCloskey.

    Print | Tags: Football
  • For Expos, look to another locale outside the States

    Now that baseball's labor agreement is in place, the question Major League Baseball must answer is: Will the Montreal Expos stay in place? Or be moved by baseball, which owns and operates the money-losing franchise? With more rumored movements than Beethoven ever wrote being considered, several forwarding addresses have been mentioned, with the likeliest place for the Expos to be delivered F.O.B. being the Washington, D.C., area. Baseball, however, doesn't want to face a lawsuit by Orioles owner Peter Angelos over territorial rights, Angelos seeming to win more in court than on the field. So, other forwarding addresses are being considered, including Portland, Buffalo, Charlotte and San Juan, Puerto Rico. San Juan? Yes, says Lawrence Rocco of the Newark Star-Ledger, who believes "the Puerto Rico possibility is the most intriguing. When the Rangers and Blue Jays played there last season, it was a wild success. Baseball is destined to expand more internationally, and this would be a great free look at that possibility." In the meantime, baseball's version of the homeless will continue to play in Montreal ... at least for another year.

    IRON MIKE'S NOT SEEN A ROUND: Mike Tyson has been MIA since losing to Lennox Lewis in June. His only sightings have been on "The Best Damn Sports Show Period" and in a commercial promoting the show showing the "I Want to Eat Your Children" boxer baby-sitting an infant for the show's co-host, John Kruk, in an attempt to get on the program. As the New York Post notes, the commercial has been pulled by Fox Sports Net, with a spokesperson for the network stating the obvious: "The ad potentially could have crossed the line." And the New York Observer reports that the "deeply-in-debt Mr. Tyson was unable to muster a winning bid [of $12 million] on a lavishly-detailed Upper East Side townhouse he had bid on at the beginning of the summer." In fact, the owner of the townhouse told the Observer, "Ever since he lost the fight to Lewis, I never heard back from him."

    VOL-UPTOUS? For some women, lipstick is a device to make every kiss tell — although, for others it may be like putting spotlights on a landfill to lure prospective home buyers. Now there's another reason for women to cosmetically oversaturate their lips: a new lipstick called "Sports Paint" marketed for University of Tennessee women by a local cosmetic-shop owner so that Volunteer fans can show their true colors. Writes Dwight Perry in The Seattle Times: "The concept isn't entirely original. ... Oregon State fans have been wearing black-and-orange lipstick for years, but the big drawback has been that stores in Corvallis don't stock it until Halloween."

    NO PRESENTS FOR THE ABSENTS: "How bad?" are things going for the Florida Marlins? So bad that they can't even give away "free gifts" — which is a redundancy. Seems the Marlins had ordered some 60,000 bobblehead dolls bearing the likeness of team members Julian Tavarez, Brad Penny, Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett, and Marlins fans, showing no gift of grab, failed to show up in record numbers (or came posing as empty seats) and left the Marlins with more than 22,000 of their original stock.

    LINE OF THE WEEK: Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Tribune, on the National Council of Women's Organizations' campaign to admit a female member to Augusta National: "They can burn their bras and brassies all they want, but the Augusta National's chairman isn't going to let the fairer sex in as members. No sir. The only woman who gets to play there is Big Bertha."

    Print | Tags: Baltimore Orioles, Baseball, Boxing, Miami Marlins, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays
  • New view for the Brew Crew

    Milwaukee lawyer Ulice Payne was hired to bring quick changes to troubled team.

    The Milwaukee Brewers last week became the first team in Major League Baseball to have an African-American president when it hired local lawyer Ulice Payne Jr.

    Payne replaces Wendy Selig-Prieb, who expressed a desire to step down from her position several weeks ago, according to a story on the team's Web site.

    Selig-Prieb took over the day-to-day operations of the Brewers in 1998 after her father, Bud Selig, was named baseball's commissioner. Selig-Prieb will stay with the Brewers as chairwoman of the team's board of directors and will work on community relations projects.

    Before joining the Brewers, Payne, 47, was a managing partner at Foley & Lardner. While he has no prior experience in baseball management, Payne, a former basketball star on Marquette's 1977 NCAA championship team, has been a prominent figure in Milwaukee sports. He's chairman of the Bradley Center & Entertainment Corp. and was a member of the board of the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District, the group that oversaw construction of Miller Park.

    In his new position, Payne will be responsible for overseeing a turnaround for the team, which hasn't had a winning season in 10 years. Among his first moves as team president was the introduction last week of Doug Melvin as the Brewers' new general manager. Melvin replaces Dean Taylor, who was hired by the Brewers in 1999.

    "We need to be more competitive on the field next year," Payne said. "We can't expect fans to wait three years for a turnaround."

    Selig-Prieb could not be reached at press time.

    Print | Tags: Baseball, Milwaukee Brewers
  • Puma's sales expectations high

    The U.S. operation of sports apparel and footwear company Puma AG Rudolf Dassler Sport is on a hot streak, and executives are projecting a nearly 40 percent increase in sales this year.

    As a result, Germany-based Puma is expanding operations at its North American headquarters in Westford, Mass., to gear up for major growth in U.S. apparel and footwear sales.

    Puma North America, whose roughly 90 employees share the 40,000-square-foot Westford space with staff from the parent company, is in the process of taking over the entire building.

    Fifty staffers from Puma's parent company are moving to downtown Boston next month to set up shop in 20,000 square feet of space at the Boston Design Center in South Boston.

    Puma AG CEO Jochen Zeitz, who spends roughly half of his time in the United States, will also make the move to Boston.

    The company's recent success has been built on products designed to appeal to a young, urban demographic. Finding ways to hang on to that appeal is something company executives "talk about every day," said Jay Piccola, president of Puma North America. "How do we grow, expand distribution and stay cool?"

    While the parent company doesn't break out figures for its subsidiaries, Piccola said the U.S. operation has seen no less than 19 percent growth each year since 1997, when it did about $28 million in sales, and projects a roughly 38 percent increase this year, largely on the popularity of its lifestyle line. Based on projected orders for the first half of 2003, the company expects annualized growth of 34 percent next year.

    "It's a very, very enjoyable time to be here," Piccola said.

    The same couldn't be said just five years ago.

    In 1997, the U.S. operation was unprofitable, Piccola said. The following year, Puma, under Zeitz's direction, began readjusting the brand from a purely sports company into a lifestyle and fashion brand with an urban sensibility.

    The company also improved its financial operations, Piccola said, adding that the work began paying off last year in the sports, lifestyle and fashion realms.

    Attesting to Puma's varied appeal is the fact that the company's second-largest retail account, behind Foot Locker, is high-end department store Nordstrom.

    "There's nothing like Puma in the marketplace today," said John Shanley, an analyst who covers athletic apparel and footwear for Wells Fargo Securities in New York. He added that with U.S. sales accounting for 40 percent to 45 percent of the overall business, there's room to grow.

    Jill Lerner writes for the Boston Business Journal.

  • SI For Kids turns to mag vet Krieger

    Sports Illustrated For Kids named magazine veteran Peter Krieger publisher of the monthly title.

    The 46-year-old boasts a lengthy sales and marketing history at Time Inc., having served as associate publisher of People En Español and advertising director of Life magazine. Before his promotion, Krieger was director of special projects for Sports Illustrated Women.

    As a bonus, Krieger's three children are all within SI For Kids' target 8- to 17-year-old readers range, giving him daily insight into the minds of children and teenagers.

    Tim Jarrell, vice president/publishing director of SI For Kids, said Krieger will focus on working with Sports Illustrated to create joint ad programs. He'll also try to recruit more advertisers for the "Teen Select" section.

    Krieger replaces Sheila Buckley, who joined Sports Illustrated as associate publisher. Buckley earned high marks, launching the successful "Teen Select" pages this year and pulling in record ad revenue (nearly $21 million) in 2001.

    "Sheila built a fabulous foundation for us," Jarrell said.

    Through August, SI For Kids had posted ad revenue of $12.4 million, nearly a 4 percent increase through the same period in 2001. Ad pages, though, were down slightly, to 202. The standard ad page costs $58,000.

    SI For Kids has 950,000 subscribers. The magazine costs $3.50 on newsstands.

    Print | Tags: Sports Illustrated
  • Spanish-language Deportes ready to fill 24-hour schedule

    ESPN will launch a 24-hour Spanish-language channel under the name ESPN Deportes next year.

    ESPN Deportes, currently just a weekly block of Spanish-language programming on Sunday nights available in 13 million homes, will expand to a full-fledged channel, with coverage of Major League Baseball and NBA games, along with European soccer and sporting events from around Latin America.

    ESPN signature programming, such as the winter and summer X Games and "SportsCenter," also will be shown on the network.

    The Spanish "SportsCenter" will be produced separately from the English version and include coverage of events from around the world.

    ESPN Latin America, which reaches 14.5 million households throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, will provide some programming to ESPN Deportes.

    The new channel will compete with several U.S.-based Spanish television networks with a heavy sports presence, including Fox Sports World Español, Univision and Telemundo.

    Russell Wolff, senior vice president and managing director of ESPN International, will oversee ESPN Deportes.

    Print | Tags: ESPN
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