SBJ/January 23-29, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NCAA interviewing candidates for Shaheen’s EVP post

The future of Greg Shaheen, the architect of the NCAA’s 14-year, $11 billion media deal with Turner Sports and CBS, has come under question in recent weeks as the NCAA began advertising his job position.

Shaheen, who oversees the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and the other 88 NCAA championships, still carries the interim tag before his title — executive vice president of championships and alliances. Parker Executive Search, an Atlanta-based search firm that helped the NCAA hire President Mark Emmert in 2010, has been retained again to lead the search for an executive vice president of championships and alliances.

Like other NCAA execs, Greg Shaheen’s title has carried an interim tag since Mark Emmert arrived.
Photo by: SHANA WITTENWYLER
Industry sources indicate that Shaheen is one of those interviewing to keep his own job. But seeing the job advertised publicly has led some industry insiders to wonder what’s next for Shaheen, who has been described by NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver as “the least-known, most powerful person in basketball.”

The NCAA, however, is calling this business as usual as Emmert, who took over as president in October 2010, completes his senior staff and remakes the NCAA’s front office.

Other members of Emmert’s senior management team carried the interim tag when they were first assigned a title under Emmert’s direction. Bob Williams, the NCAA’s vice president of communications, was first named an interim vice president before the interim tag was eventually removed in December 2010, two months after Emmert formally moved into the job.

Scott Bearby initially was named interim general counsel and vice president of legal affairs, but Donald Remy was eventually hired for that job in January 2011, and Bearby became deputy general counsel. Another senior staffer, Keith Martin, was named by Emmert to be interim chief financial officer and vice president of administration before Kathleen McNeely was hired for those titles in March 2011. Martin remained to work in finance and reports to McNeely.

“It’s a national search, similar to what we’ve done with various NCAA positions over the past year,” the NCAA said of the search for an executive vice president of championships and alliances.

What’s different, though, is that those previous senior staff hires were made within a few months of Emmert’s arrival. Shaheen, who did not respond to messages for this story, has been in the interim role for 16 months now.

The executive vice president position will report to Jim Isch, the NCAA’s chief operating officer, who was the interim president while the search was on for Emmert. Before Emmert’s arrival, Shaheen’s title was senior vice president, basketball and business strategies.

According to Parker’s job description, the NCAA’s executive vice president will “oversee the strategic direction, operation and management of all NCAA championships … and the association’s multiple broadcast and marketing rights.” The application process closed Friday.

Shaheen, who joined the association in 2000, has established himself as the NCAA’s point person in the relationships with Turner and CBS, and has overseen the Final Four’s growth over the last decade.

He sent the college basketball world into a near panic early in 2010 when he shopped the idea of a 96-team bracket to potential media bidders on the tournament. The NCAA settled on a 68-team format when it locked down a joint rights agreement with Turner and CBS.

Shaheen also has been instrumental in molding the “basketball in the round” concept that put the court at midfield inside giant domes for the Final Four and some regionals, which have attracted record crowds in the 70,000 to 80,000 range.
His name has most commonly been linked to conference commissioner’s jobs in the past, most notably at the Pac-12 before Larry Scott was hired, and most recently the Big 12. Shaheen grew up in Indianapolis, where the NCAA is based, and still has family there.

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