SBJ/January 21-27, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Drewett’s bad news shocks ATP players, execs

Few professional athletes transform themselves into top administrators of their sport, but Brad Drewett is one of the few to turn the trick.

ATP President Brad Drewett announced last week that he has ALS and will step down.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
That is in part why the tennis world is in grief and shock given Drewett, the president of the ATP, announced last week that he suffers from ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and would be stepping down soon.

“Brad is definitely one of the most successful examples of a high-level professional athlete who took a big role in the running of their sport,” said Mark Miles, who ran the ATP from 1990 to 2005 when Drewett ran the tour’s international expansion into Asia. “He is first and foremost a player and a guy who appreciates what players are going through.”

Drewett, 54, played from 1976 to 1992, reaching a career high of 34th in the world in 1984.

What will happen with Drewett’s signature effort, negotiating with the Grand Slams for a dramatic change in prize money allocation, is now uncertain. Already he had won huge increases from the Australian Open that will see the percentage of revenue the event pays to players rise into the mid-20 percent range in a few years.

But the other three Slams are not near that, with the U.S. Open currently less than half that percentage, and that was to be a defining mission this year for Drewett.

Justin Gimelstob, an ATP board director, said there would be no rush in replacing Drewett, and the players were intent on seeing the prize money issue through.

If the tour looks internally to replace Drewett, the runner-up in 2011 to Drewett was Mark Young, a longtime ATP administrator based in Florida. Stacked against Young, an American, is the sport’s tilt away from America, and his limited ties with players. Roger Federer, who has been integral in the negotiations with the Slams, had pushed former player Richard Krajicek before Drewett for the job, and perhaps his name will resurface again.

For now, though, no one within the ATP seems capable of thinking that far ahead.

One other ATP board member, reached in Australia on what would now happen with the issue of Grand Slam prize money, simply responded, “I have no idea. Simply in shock.”

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