SBJ/November 26-December 2, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Pay raise helps WTA's Allaster top $1M

The WTA Tour chief executive is again earning more than $1 million annually, making Stacey Allaster one of the highest-paid female executives in sports, if not the top one.

Allaster
According to the WTA’s recently filed 2011 tax return, Allaster earned $1.32 million last year, up 40.5 percent over her compensation for the previous year, which was her first full year running the tour (see salary chart below story). Her predecessor, Larry Scott, now commissioner of the Pac-12 Conference, several times surpassed the $1 million mark while running the WTA, a major breakthrough for a women’s sports group at that time. Scott was WTA chairman and CEO from 2003 through mid-2009.

Women who earn more than $1 million in sports on the business side are a small sorority. Stephanie Streeter in 2009 earned $1 million as interim CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and Michelle Wilson in 2008 earned a similar amount as the U.S. Tennis Association’s chief marketing officer.

“Most women don’t earn that much money in sports,” said Cathy Griffin, a sports executive recruiter, who said she was surprised by Allaster’s compensation amount.

Carolyn Bivens in 2010 earned $765,338 for what was her last year running the LPGA, according to a tax filing for that group.

Tax returns are publicly available for the men’s and women’s tennis tours, the USOC, the LPGA and the USTA, but information is not fully available for all leagues, including the WNBA, nor for senior-level executives at teams or major sports agencies.

Ilana Kloss, president of World TeamTennis, said Allaster’s pay is in part a function of the sport of tennis, which is global in nature and has long been the dominant sport for women.

“Women’s tennis has always led the way when you think about women’s sports,” said Kloss, who played on the tour in the 1970s.

Whether Allaster continues to receive a million-dollar compensation in coming years will likely depend on her ability to find a replacement for Sony Mobile as top sponsor of the tour. The telecommunications company is exiting the sponsorship next month.

Allaster’s 2011 compensation included base pay of $550,000, a $668,194 bonus and other benefits. The bonus is structured to reward her for the commercial success of the WTA, which posted 2011 revenue of $61 million, up 15 percent, according to the tax return. That revenue figure is for money flowing though the governing body and is not inclusive of tournaments other than the season-ending events controlled by the WTA.

Though Allaster had more than $1 million in compensation for 2011, she was far behind then-head of the ATP Adam Helfant, who earned $3.5 million, according to the ATP’s most recent tax return. Helfant left the ATP in part over a dispute regarding his pay, an amount that many on the tour saw as inflated. He received a $1.8 million bonus as part of his pay in 2011. Sources said he wanted that reflected in his new base pay, but the board of directors rejected that suggestion.

ATP revenue jumped 25 percent in Helfant’s final year to $81.6 million. His 2012 successor, Brad Drewett, earned $541,110 in 2011 as head of the tour’s international unit and chairman of the season-ending championship.

The USTA, which normally files its return at the same time as the WTA and ATP, said the Internal Revenue Service had granted it an extension through February.

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