SBJ/July 17 - 23, 2006/This Weeks News

Hornets split up duties of departed president

The New Orleans Hornets will divide up the duties of recently departed president Paul Mott, signaling more turmoil for the team’s beleaguered front office.

Paul Mott, hired in April 2005, is the latest
to leave the Hornets’ front office.
Chief Financial Officer Brice Collier and marketing chief Hugh Weber will now report directly to Hornets owner George Shinn. General manager Jeff Bower will run the basketball operations until Mott’s replacement is named.

Neither Shinn nor Mott would comment on last week’s change.

Mott was hired in April 2005 to bring stability to the team, which already was struggling in New Orleans. The team’s front offi ce has been a revolving door since the franchise moved to New Orleans from Charlotte in 2002, the instability made worse by the team’s temporary relocation last September to Oklahoma City in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

In the past 18 months, the team has run through two marketing directors, Tim McDougall and Tim Hinchey. Former general manager Allen Bristow resigned, as did longtime public relations manager Harold Kaufman. Other resignations include Jack Capella, executive vice president, and Todd Santino, vice president of sponsorship sales.

The problems facing the front offi ce also come while Shinn searches for minority investors. Shinn was on the verge of selling a minority stake in the team last summer, but the deal fell apart after the team was forced to move to Oklahoma City.

The team isn’t saying whether Mott resigned or was fi red, but his departure was unexpected. According to insiders, the fi rst hint came in a recent meeting during which Mott outlined the past year’s results but did not speak to business goals.

Before coming to the Hornets, Mott was a vice president for the league’s team business operations department.

Despite the front offi ce turmoil, the Hornets fl ourished last season in Oklahoma City, averaging 18,169 at the 19,000- seat Ford Center, up 28 percent from the 2005-06 season, spent in New Orleans. The team sold 10,400 season tickets last season, and team offi cials said they expect to surpass that number this season.

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