SBJ/November 17 - 23, 2003/Other News
This week in sports business history: Nov. 17-23
Published November 17, 2003
1979: The Houston Astros sign pitcher Nolan Ryan to a four-year, $4.5 million contract, the richest MLB contract at the time.
1994: Greg Norman and John Montgomery hold a news conference to announce an ambitious new golf tour, the World Golf Tour. The eight-event, $25 million tour for the top 30 players in the world is planned to begin in 1995, with each event awarding $3 million in prize money. Fox Television CEO David Evans signs a contract for Fox to own the TV rights.
FOLLOW-THROUGH: The organizers of the World Golf Tour and the PGA Tour began a heated debate over the future of the World Golf Tour. Norman's venture never got off the ground. Eventually, in 1997, the International Federation of PGA Tours, which consists of the PGA Tour and various other worldwide golf tours, introduced the World Golf Championships, which began in 1999. PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem: "It's different than the 1994 initiative that Greg Norman endorsed, in a couple of ways. Primarily, timing and structure." Said Norman: "I was really hung out to dry."
1995: Doug Logan is named the first MLS commissioner, taking over for Alan Rothenberg, who spearheaded formation of the league but passed on the opportunity to become full-time commissioner.
FOLLOW-THROUGH: The league failed to increase attendance and TV ratings under Logan, who lost the support of major MLS investors such as Lamar Hunt and Robert Kraft. In August 1999, Don Garber was named the new commissioner.
1995: Time Warner Inc.'s Norman Pearlstine announces that Bill Colson has been named managing editor of Sports Illustrated. Colson had been assistant managing editor at SI since the summer of 1991. He succeeds Mark Mulvoy, who becomes editor of SI and is given top editorial responsibility for all Olympic projects outside the weekly SI Presents and SI For Kids. The announcement of Colson completes the "bake-off" competition with Life managing editor Daniel Okrent, in which each served a three-month trial period that culminated with "oral exams" with Pearlstine and Time Inc. editorial director Henry Muller.
1997: After 33 years
FOLLOW-THROUGH: Goodyear remains the exclusive tire supplier to NASCAR.
1998: Steve Bornstein is named
FOLLOW-THROUGH: In May 2002, Bornstein stepped down from his ABC-TV president post. At ESPN, Bornstein helped transform a single cable sports channel into an empire that now includes several networks, a magazine and branded restaurants. At the end of his reign at ABC Sports, however, the network had the smallest audience of the four biggest networks among the 18- to 49-year-old audience that advertisers covet.
In January 2003, the NFL named Bornstein CEO of the new NFL Network, which debuted on DirecTV on Nov. 4.
1999: The NCAA signs a record-breaking 11-year pact worth $6 billion, which gives CBS a bundled rights package that includes television rights to the Division I men's basketball tournament and other championships, as well as marketing and Internet rights. The deal begins on Sept. 1, 2002. Beginning with that school year, CBS is scheduled to pay the NCAA $360 million. That amount increases each year, so that in 2012-13 (the last year of the deal) the NCAA is scheduled to receive $764 million from CBS. CBS Sports President Sean McManus says, "We made what we considered a fair and reasonable bid that enables us to make a profit."
1999: The NHL names ABC's Jon Litner executive vice president and chief operating officer. He replaces Steve Solomon, who left to run Univision's sports division.