‘Daytona Day’ back with new activation MLS sponsor loyalty: Coke bubbles up Baker to chair sports group at O’Melveny Suns’ strategy? Take a look (in VR) IndyCar steers marketing toward digital NBPA bets on power of its stars Coast to Coast How Clemson nails it on social media Fewer seats mean greater value in Miami CFP notebook: More Culpepper
SBJ/July 25-31, 2011/People and Pop CulturePrint All
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers promoted Dennis Hickey to director of player personnel, Mike Greenberg to coordinator of football administration and Tony Kinkela to college scout. The team also hired Bill Rees as college scout, Tony Hardie as combine scout and Rob McCartney as pro personnel assistant.
The Los Angeles Kings hired Vince Ircandia as manager of business operations and analytics and Cassy Niehaus as human resources generalist.
Time Warner Cable hired Dan Finnerty as senior vice president of TWC Sports. Finnerty was executive vice president of network distribution and development for Comcast Networks.
Wasserman Media Group hired Peter Helfer as vice president of global sales. Helfer was director of corporate sales and marketing for the New York Mets.
International Speedway Corp. hired Dennis Bickmeier as president of Richmond International Raceway. Bickmeier replaces Doug Fritz, who resigned earlier this month.
The Racers Group named Bob Dickinson chief operating officer for TRG and Adobe Road Winery. Dickinson was vice president of media and communications for the American Le Mans Series.
The U.S. Olympic Committee hired Kirsten Volpi as chief administrative officer.
The AS Roma soccer club hired Roberto Cappelli as president.
Sports Commissions and Tourism Boards
The Pat Tillman Foundation named retired Army Lt. Col. Michael Kwinn Jr. president and chief executive officer.
Ticket Booster hired Adam Ruchim as Los Angeles fundraising program coordinator.
Awards and Boards
Live Nation named James Dolan of Cablevision Systems Corp. to the board of directors.
The U.S. Bowling Congress board of directors elected Jim Sturm as president and Tom Bluth as vice president.
Jill Conway and Ralph DeNunzio will retire from the Nike board of directors at the annual meeting in September.
Guidepost Solutions, a security and risk management firm, hired Dan Donovan as director of the new sports and entertainment practice.
To have your personnel announcements included in the People section, please send information and photos to Brandon McClung at 120 W. Morehead St., Suite 310, Charlotte, NC 28202, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Electronic photos must be a jpg or tiff file for Macintosh, 2.25 inches wide at 300 dpi. Color only, please. News items may also be sent via fax to (704) 973-1401. If you have questions, call (704) 973-1425.
The leadership at Collegiate Licensing Co. might have rolled over recently, but the company’s constant through the years — Bill Battle — isn’t changing.
“I know there’s some concern among our clients that we’ve lost some key staff people with a lot of experience, but maybe it gives them some comfort to know that there’s still some gray hair around,” Battle said with a laugh. “CLC means a lot to me, before we sold it and after we sold it, and I’m glad that we’ve got some great talent still here. I don’t want to see any backward steps.”
The leadership changes began last year, when IMG acquired ISP Sports and installed ISP owner Ben Sutton as the president of IMG College, the parent company of CLC. Through the leadership shift, two major changes affected CLC: the departure of former IMG College chief Pat Battle, Bill Battle’s son; and the reassignment of Derek Eiler, the former chief operating officer at CLC.
It was during CLC’s transformation at the top earlier this year that Sutton knew he had to lean on Bill Battle to bridge the changes. The two had been friends for close to 20 years, and Sutton, a marketing and media expert, needed Battle’s licensing expertise. Sutton also brought in Battle as a consultant on other IMG College business.
Battle provided a steadying influence during the changes, which eventually led to the promotion of Cory Moss to senior vice president and managing director last month. Moss is running the day-to-day business of CLC, but Sutton has asked Battle to stay on as chairman, where he will advise the senior staff and consult with CLC’s clients.
“I’m sure with all of the changes that some people assumed Coach Battle would move on down the road,” Sutton said. “But it’s important for me and the folks at CLC that he stays involved.”
CLC, which sold to IMG in 2007 for a little more than $100 million, is the sports licensing agent for nearly 200 universities, bowl games and conferences, and is the major player in the $4.3 billion collegiate licensing industry.
Battle, a former University of Tennessee football coach, said he intends to be in the office three to four days a week as chairman. He won’t go to every weekly staff meeting, but he will maintain regular contact with Moss and his senior staff, as well as the many college contacts he has made in 30 years of doing this work.
Surrounded by gold at Partner Summit 2011
USSA / SARAH ELY
A trio of Olympic gold medalists poses with Suzanne Taddei, director of strategic partnerships, business sales, for new U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association partner Tiffany & Co., during Partner Summit 2011 at Zoom restaurant in Park City, Utah. From left: Ted Ligety, Seth Wescott, Taddei, USSA Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer Andrew Judelson and Bode Miller.
Done deal at NHL Exchange
NHL IMAGES / CATHERINE YOUNG
Brian Jennings (left), NHL EVP of marketing, and John Purciello, Franklin Sports senior product manager, on July 20 announced a multiyear license renewal for Franklin NHL Street Hockey Gear during the NHL Exchange licensed products and retail trade show at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
Wharton students tour USTA Center
Wharton Sports Business Academy’s inaugural class gathers on court at Arthur Ashe Stadium with Derrick Heggans of Wharton and Lou Sherr and Dan Malasky of the U.S. Tennis Association. The USTA hosted the students at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on July 15.
Best sticks forward for Whale ticket campaign
LIZ BONTEMPO / CONNECTICUT WHALE
Business and civic leaders gathered in front of Hartford’s XL Center ticket office July 13 to mark the start of the Connecticut Whale Grass Roots season-ticket campaign. From left: Cindy Semrau, Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce VP; Guy LaBella, East Hartford Chamber of Commerce board of directors member; Oz Griebel, Metro Hartford Alliance CEO; Howard Baldwin, Whalers Sports & Entertainment chairman and CEO; Pucky the Whale; Michael O’Connell, Business for Downtown Hartford board of directors member; Eric Person, Home Builders Association of Hartford County CEO; Mary Ellen Dombrowski, Glastonbury Chamber of Commerce president; and Erin Pollard, Business for Downtown Hartford executive director.
Corn Congress in session in Washington
MARK LAMBERT / NCGA
Jim O’Connell, NASCAR chief sales officer, spoke July 14 at the 2011 Corn Congress at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. The National Corn Growers Association is an official NASCAR partner. From left: Garry Niemeyer, NCGA 1st VP; Bart Schott, NCGA president; O’Connell; and NCGA Chairman Darrin Ihnen.
Two days of cooking at Viking Classic
VIKING RANGE CORP.
Chef Emeril Lagasse was featured at the PGA Tour’s Viking Classic in Madison, Miss., where he played in the primary pro-am July 13 and participated in two days of cooking demonstrations. From left: Randy Watkins, Viking Classic tournament director; Fred Carl Jr., president and CEO of Viking Range Corp.; and Lagasse.
Please submit photos for review of industry conferences, parties, product launches and openings showcasing the people and personalities at the event. Include the event date, location, names/titles of those featured along with credit information. The photo specifications are as follows: 300dpi, tiff, jpeg or eps color images. Submit digital photos for review at: email@example.com or send color prints to: Faces & Places, c/o Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal, 120 W. Morehead St., Suite 310, Charlotte, NC 28202.
Early last week, Travis Pastrana popped into a Subway near his Maryland home for lunch.While waiting to order, he noticed a man nudge a boy wearing an oversized, flat-billed hat standing in line behind him.
“Hey, man,” the 9-year-old boy said to Pastrana. “I watch ‘Nitro Circus’ and I can’t wait to see you start NASCAR.”
Pastrana’s eyes widened. He’d never heard anyone mention ‘Nitro Circus,’ his daredevil reality show on MTV, and NASCAR in the same sentence.
Waltrip’s company gave Pastrana equity in the Nationwide team and spent last year working on a business plan for his arrival in NASCAR.
That’s what everyone across Michael Waltrip Racing, NASCAR and Wasserman Media Group, which represents Pastrana, hopes will happen when Pastrana brings his nice-guy image and thrill-seeking personality to the Nationwide Series this Saturday at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis. It will be the first of seven races he plans to run in NASCAR this year.
Other action sports athletes, such as Ricky Carmichael, and accomplished drivers like Juan Pablo Montoya have made similar jumps into NASCAR. But few could mean as much to the sport as Pastrana does today, with NASCAR desperate to grow its fan base and eager to appeal to youth.
Pastrana, 26, connects with young people as well as any athlete in sports. He has 2.8 million fans on Facebook, 170,668 followers on Twitter and a show on MTV2. He’s so popular that a YouTube video he recently filmed with three scantily clad dancing grannies netted more than 250,000 views in its first week.
It’s that type of appeal that inspired Michael Waltrip Racing to gamble and give the action sports star equity in its Nationwide Series team, which was renamed Pastrana Waltrip Racing last fall.
“It’s not just a NASCAR initiative, or a Michael Waltrip Racing initiative,” said Waltrip general manager Ty Norris. “This is a youth initiative. The youth market is something so important to us going forward, and what we see in Travis is not only a guy with incredible passion and desire to be a champion … but one who also has a massive following.”
Executives with Waltrip Racing and Wasserman spent the better part of the last year working on a business plan that would put Pastrana in position to bring that following to NASCAR. In the span of six months, they forged an unprecedented partnership, secured sponsorship support, haggled with NASCAR over issues including car numbers, and worked with the X Games staff to schedule freestyle motocross and rally car events around the Nationwide race so that Pastrana could do both.
“The vision of where this Pastrana Waltrip team could go has been pursued with a lot of passion from a tremendous amount of people,” Norris said. “I’ve probably said Travis Pastrana’s name more than my wife and kids’ names combined in the last six months. It’s what I’ve been talking about because I know personally, and we know as a group, what Travis can mean to the sport. We hope that we can do it right. The sport needs it.”
‘Come drive our car’
On New Year’s Eve in 2010, Blake Bechtel, the 28-year-old who co-owns the Michael Waltrip Racing Nationwide Series team with his father Gary Bechtel, climbed in a car with a then unknown stock-car driver named Trevor Bayne and headed to Long Beach, Calif., to see Travis Pastrana jump a rally car 200 feet onto a floating barge.
Bechtel, who moved to California in his teens and became a fan of supercross, motocross and action sports, had always dreamed of bringing some of action sports’ cool factor to his NASCAR team.
During the after party celebrating Pastrana’s successful jump, Bechtel approached the X Games star and introduced him to Bayne.
“You need to come drive our car, man,” Bechtel told Pastrana.
“Really?” Pastrana said. “That’d be great.”
Pastrana had spent the previous three years pestering his agent, Steve Astephen, to find him a ride in NASCAR. Astephen thought it was a joke, but Pastrana was really interested, and Bechtel picked up on that. He left that night and called Waltrip Racing’s Norris to tell him about meeting Pastrana.
“I had no idea what the structure would be, but we knew if there was any way we could get him in a race car, that would be the best decision we ever made,” Bechtel said.
Bechtel stayed in touch with Pastrana’s representatives at Wasserman, and late that spring, he and Norris went to the agency’s Carlsbad, Calif., office to discuss Pastrana. The Wasserman team, led by Astephen and Pastrana’s business manager, Travis Clarke, said it was looking for investors for a Pastrana-owned supercross team. Norris had a different idea. What if, instead of a supercross team, Pastrana became an owner of a NASCAR Nationwide Series team?
“We’ll put Travis’ name on it,” Norris said. “Travis has to stay Travis. He can do everything … he wants to do. Ultimately, if we do this right, we can build a race team that’s an umbrella for all the race things Travis does — rally, supercross, motocross.”
The offer was better than Astephen and Clarke could have imagined.
“When we met with other teams, they said, ‘Oh, yeah, Travis would be great for our team. We’ll pay him a bunch of money,’” Clarke said. “That’s not what we were looking for. Ty was selling us on what we were selling everyone else. It was a no-brainer.”
The two sides cut a deal to create Pastrana Waltrip Racing. Gary Bechtel, who is the team’s primary investor, gave Pastrana a stake in the team. (Astephen wouldn’t discuss business terms, but said Pastrana did put in some equity.) The sales teams at Wasserman and Waltrip Racing then began to search for sponsorship.
Astephen and Clarke wanted a lifestyle company that matched Pastrana’s personality. The duo reached out to companies already sponsoring Pastrana, as well as some that had sponsored him in the past. Damion Roberson, a team manager at Boost Mobile, liked the idea and began working with Wasserman on the framework of an agreement before Waltrip Racing had even announced its partnership with Pastrana.
“We thought, regardless of his reception and traction with race fans, there were so many Pastrana fans squarely in the target for us,” said Tim Considine, director of sports marketing at Sprint, which owns Boost. “If he gained any traction in the sport and race fans got behind him, that would just be gravy.”
New look for NASCAR
On a fall day at around 6 a.m., as the deal was still being worked out, Pastrana and a handful of executives from Wasserman and Waltrip Racing met the NASCAR Media Group at Charlotte Motor Speedway to film a video announcing Pastrana’s move to NASCAR.
The video began with a black screen that read, “Is NASCAR ready for Travis Pastrana?” Then Pastrana appeared inside a stock car banging on the roof saying, “Come on, man, I know how to turn left. Let me out.” His friend Hubert Rowland pulled a tarp off the car, unveiling a yellow Toyota with skid marks and don’t-turn-right decals. The 90-second video debuted online and netted more than 200,000 views. ESPN showed it in its entirety.
Pastrana, shown driving in practice for a K&N Pro Series West race in February, will make his Nationwide Series debut this Saturday.
Norris liked the idea and took it to Astephen, who worked with X Games staff to schedule the freestyle motocross best-trick competition on Thursday and the rally cross event on Sunday. The schedule meant Pastrana could commute between Los Angeles and Indianapolis to compete in X Games on Thursday, NASCAR on Saturday and X Games on Sunday. The trifecta of Pastrana on ESPN was exactly what Norris had envisioned.
“Right out of the box, it’s exposing the sport to new people,” Norris said.
After the deal with Boost closed, Astephen and Norris began to talk about what Pastrana’s paint scheme would look like. Astephen wanted Pastrana to race in the No. 199 car. The number had been synonymous with Pastrana since his amateur motocross days, but NASCAR had never had a three-digit number before, and denied the request.
Astephen looked for an alternative. Eventually, he and Norris came up with the idea of ghosting the number into the side of the car. The resulting paint scheme features the faint outline of a black 1 filled in with grey Boost logos alongside two orange 9s.
The car made its debut in January in downtown Los Angeles. Afterward, Pastrana drove the car up Hollywood Boulevard and took it to Dodger Stadium, which was hosting a supercross race.
“When I saw Travis walking around there, I kept looking over to everyone with me and saying, ‘We have Dale [Earnhardt] Jr.,’” Norris said. “We were in awe of him. It confirmed for us he had the star power and the charisma.”
Pastrana’s transition to NASCAR will be filled with adjustments for both sides. After his debut in a regional stock car series race at Irwindale Speedway, Pastrana went into the stands to sign autographs and take pictures with fans. A NASCAR public relations official rushed over to take him to the post-race press conference, but Pastrana’s team at Wasserman intervened and asked them to let the other drivers speak first.
“This is what Travis does after a race,” Clarke said. “He goes and sees the fans. They weren’t used to that.”
Pastrana is expected to push the envelope in other ways. A BASE jumping enthusiast, he’s asked about the possibility of parachuting into a speedway for his driver introduction. And there’s always the possibility of him doing a motocross demo before an event.
Pastrana’s “Nitro Circus” finds a young audience on MTV2.
Pastrana doesn’t have high expectations for his performance this season, but he is committed to getting better. If he improves, then he will move from seven races in 2011 to 20-plus races in 2012, to full time in 2013. The ultimate goal is the Daytona 500 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2014.
The teams at Wasserman and Waltrip will be watching his performance closely. Their deal with Boost was a one-year agreement, and they have to sell those 20-plus Nationwide races and rally cross inventory in 2012.
Norris’ long-term vision is to turn Pastrana Waltrip Racing into a feeder system for young drivers and sponsors at Michael Waltrip Racing that allows both groups to benefit from Pastrana’s youth appeal and coolness factor. Astephen wants to turn the team into the umbrella motorsports program with supercross and motocross teams like Norris first pitched a year ago.
But everyone knows those plans will have to wait until after this Thursday’s X Games. Pastrana is planning to try again to land a freestyle motocross trick called the Toilet Roll. He failed to land it at the Staples Center in 2009 and wound up hobbling out of the arena. He said he is landing it 80 percent of the time in practice, and that margin of error is still a big concern for everyone behind the Nationwide Series team.
“His trick is not dialed for Thursday yet, and this whole f---ing thing could blow up in our face,” Astephen said.
Speaking last week during a press conference at Michael Waltrip Racing’s shop in North Carolina, Pastrana said he wasn’t thinking about that. He was concentrating on tackling one event at a time.
After he explained that to the press, he introduced himself to a 10-year-old named Jack Robinson, who was waiting for an autograph. Pastrana signed the boy’s Pastrana Waltrip hat and listened as his mom, Ann, explained that the crescent-shaped scar Jack’s cheek was from a dirt bike accident.
“They have their own ‘Nitro Circus’ in the backyard,” Ann said.
“Uh oh,” Pastrana said, grinning widely.
It was the second time in the same week he’d had a conversation about “Nitro Circus” and NASCAR. Maybe the demographics aren’t that different after all.
AEG has hired technology executive Bryan Perez to take charge of its new ticketing company, according to industry sources with knowledge of the move.
AEG officials refused to confirm that Perez had been hired. Perez, contacted by a third party, did not return an email for comment.
Perez also was involved in starting MLB Advanced Media in 2000, and he brokered the original deal for Tickets.com, which MLBAM acquired in 2005, to distribute tickets for individual clubs. He also worked in ticket sales for Madison Square Garden and the old Southwest Sports Group in Dallas.
Perez now grabs hold of another opportunity to develop a new ticketing company in a space where Ticketmaster, the sports industry’s dominant ticketer, faces increased competition from Tickets.com, Paciolan, New Era Tickets, Veritix and several smaller firms.
For AEG, the difference is its strength in sports and entertainment and ties to 115 venues through facility ownership, building operations, and booking and marketing deals. Together, those venues produce total ticketing revenue of roughly $400 million, company officials said.
Ticketmaster, now part of Live Nation Entertainment, holds the bulk of those ticketing deals.
In February, AEG announced the formation of a joint ticketing venture with Outbox Enterprises. Outbox, an established ticketing company in Montreal, operates ticketing for Bell Centre, home of the NHL Canadiens, as well as Cirque de Soleil’s worldwide tours.
Hiring Perez fills a critical need for AEG as he works with partner Outbox to grow the company.
“They need someone hands-on who knows the digital space and can guide those facilities through the transition,” said one source familiar with the organization.
After working in motorsports for nearly a decade, Dan Griffis has taken the position of director of strategic partnerships, events and lifestyle marketing with retail giant Target. Griffis, who was vice president of business development at Chip Ganassi Racing, will now be working with one of the team’s top sponsors. Griffis spoke with staff writer Molly Hogan.
■ New title: Director of strategic partnerships, events and lifestyle marketing at Target Corp.
■ Previous title: Vice president of business development at Chip Ganassi Racing Teams
■ First job: Caddie at Oakland Hills Country Club
■ College education: B.A., history and economics, College of Wooster, 1994; MBA, University of Michigan, 2001
■ Resides: Minneapolis with wife Janna and children Riley (9), Holden (7), Eliza (5)
■ Grew up: Birmingham, Mich.
■ Executive most admired: John Wooden
■ Brand most admired: Dunkin’ Donuts. They have created the nectar of the gods.
■ Last book read: “The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality,” by Brian Greene
■ Favorite movie: “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou”
■ What will be the biggest challenge in your new position?
Working in a large corporate environment. For the last nine years at CGR, I have worked alongside 350 great people. At Target I am now working alongside 350,000 great people. I have a few more names to memorize.
■ What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
Being able to keep the race team financially healthy by bringing new sponsors to the sport during the most difficult economic environment.
■ What is your biggest professional disappointment?
Not being able to win a NASCAR championship in my time with the team.
■ What career advice do you have for people wanting into the sports industry?
I have two pieces of advice: 1) Leave your “foam finger” at the door. This business does not need any more fans. We need passionate people who can look at the business objectively and find new ways to add value. 2) My favorite quote is “Wealth is the product of man’s capacity to think.” Ideas are the most powerful currency, so get creative.
■ What is one story you are continuing to watch in the sports world today?
How long the NCAA can continue to be the perfect monopoly. I think over the next five years, we are going to see some major changes to how they do business.
■ What is the one element you would like to see changed about the sports industry?
I would like to see more businesspeople on the team side seek mutually beneficial outcomes and for sports fans to demand more meaningful interaction from teams than a T-shirt being launched from a cannon. It is just a T-shirt, people. Don’t set your bar that low.
What’s the most memorable summertime job you had during your high school and college years, and why?
Responses edited for clarity and brevity
SVP, corporate partnerships
New York Islanders
At 13, I became the first dishwasher for Junior’s pizzeria in Huntington, N.Y. At the age of 13, all I cared about was arcade games, playing sports and eating food. Junior’s was my nirvana. The owners explained that I could play all the Mr. Do! I wanted on the house [and] all food was free while I was working, and we talked sports every day while I cleaned the dishes to a glistening shine. Even more, they paid me $5 per hour. At 13, there wasn’t a better job around. I worked harder than I ever expected with a sense of pride growing each time I departed for home with the kitchen cleaner than it was the day before. Translating that experience into every job I’ve held since, I’ve employed that same work ethic while being fortunate to enjoy every day’s work load. I’ll always be thankful for that summer and learning how to approach a job.”
• • • • • • • •
President, commercial division
“The jobs ranged from lifeguarding to construction work, but probably the most memorable was during college I was the recreation director at the inn of the Fourwinds, a small little resort on Lake Monroe outside of Bloomington, Ind. I stayed in my fraternity house during the summer and worked full time at the resort. The job was taking guests on horseback rides, sailboat rides and giving tennis lessons. [It] definitely helped me land my first job selling tennis equipment at Wilson Sporting Goods. A fun and memorable summer job while attending Indiana University.”
• • • • • • • •
“One of my favorite summer jobs during high school and college was working for Kean’s Marina in Detroit, located right on the Detroit River. The marina, which has been operating since 1931, is situated near the U.S./Canadian border at the base of Lake St. Clair. It was the perfect job for someone that loved being on the water and also offered the opportunity to meet all types of people from around the world. Furthermore, the location offered a truly unique vantage point to all of the incredible events held throughout the summer on the Detroit River.”
— Compiled by Molly Hogan
Chairman, CBS Sports
Is there a more impressive group of men in the world?
“The Murder of the Century,” by Paul Collins
Tabloid wars between Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst around a grisly murder in the Gilded Age. How bad can that be?
“Life,” by Keith Richards and James Fox
How can you not love Keith and what he’s been through?
“In the Garden of Beasts,” by Erik Larson
Story of an American family in Hitler’s Berlin. Fascinating period and terrifying events.
“The Grapes of Wrath,” by John Steinbeck
I committed to re-read one classic for every three books I read. English major’s guilt.
VP of sales and marketing, US Road Sports
“Life,” by Keith Richards and James Fox
“Goodnight Moon,” by Margaret Wise Brown
My 3-year-old daughter’s favorite, this is a staple every night before she goes to sleep!
CEO, The Crons Brand
“Outliers: The Story of Success,” by Malcolm Gladwell
Reading a long collection of John Wooden books. I always enjoy reading and re-reading Coach Wooden in the summer. His approach to people, success and daily living, while always inspiring, seems best read in the summer.
CMO, Branded Retail Energy Co.
Have to keep up with social media trends. I figure if someone is willing to lay it all out, I should take advantage of it.
“Windmill Networking: Understanding, Leveraging, and Maximizing LinkedIn,” by Neal Schaffer.
My current position is a direct result of opportunities developed using LinkedIn. Mastering this resource is a huge advantage.
“American Assassin,” by Vince Flynn
This is my first iPhone download of a book. It is a guilty pleasure about secret agents wreaking revenge on terrorists. Instead of dragging a hardcover around, it’s in my iPhone, so I have it with me on the plane.
CEO, Sports & Properties Inc.
I actually go pretty far back with ESPN — over 26 years. I headed up the 1987 U.S. Olympic Festival in North Carolina, and ESPN was the U.S. Olympic Committee’s broadcaster for the Olympic Festivals. They gave us an amazing amount of coverage, 41 hours live, and they did a complete rebroadcast twice — 123 hours total! Mike Soltys was even the network’s communications director way back then (just like he is now)! Looking forward to getting the inside scoop.
“No Apology: Believe in America,” by Mitt Romney
I have been a big Mitt fan since working with him on the Salt Lake Games. I believe Mitt has what it takes to lead the country like he did the Games, and I look forward to reading more about his vision.
I was just having a conversation with Mike Lee at SportAccord in April, and I plan to spend time at the Summer Games in London next year, so this book seems like a natural.
“Swimming,” by Nicola Keegan
I am serving as co-meet director of the U.S. Masters Swimming National Championships in April next year, and I also plan to compete in the event, so this is the perfect summer beach book that will also get me inspired for my upcoming aquatic endeavors.
“Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story,” by Jerry Weissman
My staff recommended this book to me. They said the author has raised and made millions off great PowerPoint presentations. Since I have to make multiple PowerPoint presentations every single week (and my staff hints they could be even better), it sounds like a must read!
Managing director, John McEnroe Tennis Academy
and Sportime Randall’s Island
Love all his novels.
“Last Dance,” by John Feinstein
Feinstein’s book on Final Fours
“World Without End,” by Ken Follett
Dean and Gerald L. Bepko Professor of Law,
Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis
VP of brand management, Sun Life Financial, U.S.
“The Help” caught my attention — it’s such a compelling story and really puts a lot of things into perspective.
“The Family Fang,” by Kevin Wilson
This book is unique and you might even say somewhat bizarre, but that’s what makes it a great summer read. It really transports me away from my daily routine, which is nice every once in a while.