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Colgate University recently named Vicky Chun athletic director, making her the only female athletic director in the Patriot League. A former Colgate student athlete and women’s volleyball coach, Chun had been the school’s interim athletic director since August. Chun spoke with staff writer Anna Hrushka.
■ New title: Athletic Director, Colgate University.
■ Previous title: Senior associate athletic director/senior woman administrator.
■ First job: Ball girl for the UCLA women’s volleyball team.
■ Education: Bachelor of arts, political science and education (double major), Colgate University, 1991; master of arts, history, Colgate, 1994.
■ Resides: Hamilton, N.Y.
■ Grew up: Santa Monica, Calif.
■ Executive most admired: Mark Murphy, president and chief executive officer, Green Bay Packers. “He’s always been a great mentor and friend. He had hired me as the volleyball coach at Colgate.”
■ Brand most admired: Apple.
■ Favorite vacation spot: Anywhere where there’s an ocean, beach and some sun.
■ Last book read: “The First 90 Days,” by Michael Watkins.
■ Last movieseen: “Lincoln.”
■ Favorite movie: “Miracle.”
■ Favorite musician/band: The Beatles.
■ What will be the biggest challenge in your new position?
Our board of trustees just unanimously approved a $38.7 million new athletic facility, which will include a rink, coaches suites and locker rooms for men’s and women’s ice hockey, soccer and lacrosse. [The new project] will then create space for renovation of possibly an indoor practice facility where the rink used to be located. [The challenge] will be actively fundraising and getting this project on the go.
■ What is the biggest career risk you've taken in your career?
A big decision was taking the interim role [at Colgate] and actively pursuing it for the permanent position. Most search firms would advise not to do that because it puts you in an awkward predicament. Your interview, instead of two days, is for six months. And depending on whether the president gives you enough power or not and whether you can run your own show, that’s the obstacle.
■ What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
Up to this date, it would be the last seven months now. I feel the transition went smoothly.
■ What is your biggest professional disappointment?
There have been certainly lots of disappointments, but I’ve learned from them. So I guess I don’t see a downside to them. I learn mostly from my failures.
■ What career advice do you have for people wanting into the sports industry?
Whatever job you’re doing now, do very well and take on extra responsibilities. I think mentorship is key. I think being a mentor is key as well. Be patient. You can’t plan everything out, especially not in intercollegiate athletics.
■ What is one story you are continuing to watch in the sports world today?
In the big picture, where Division I athletics is heading and what’s happening at the BCS level. I think the latest thing was Barry Alvarez announcing about the Big Ten not scheduling FCS schools; things that directly affect our institution and our athletics department.
■ What is the one element you would like to see changed about the sports industry?
I’d love for the focus to really be on the student-athlete experience and making that better.
Madison Sports Partnerships hired Sam Brashler as manager of corporate partnerships.
Home Team Sports hired Jack Burns, Victoria Toth and Alyssa Zeleznik as account executives. Burns was an account manager with NBC Universal Cable, Toth was an account executive at Current TV, and Zeleznik was an account executive at CBS Radio.
NESN named Mike Baker remote coordinating producer for Boston Red Sox broadcasts.
US Youth Soccer promoted Todd Roby to director of marketing and communications and hired Ryan Loy, Steve Prince and Jennifer Rodriguez as communications coordinators.
Sporting Goods and Apparel
AstroTurf hired Anthony DiCicco as director of business development for soccer. DiCicco was chief executive officer for the SoccerPlus Cos.
WWE promoted Michael Luisi to president of WWE Studios and named Monty Sarhan general counsel and senior vice president. Sarhan was senior vice president of business and legal affairs for Viacom Media Networks.
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As part of the All-Star FIT Youth Celebration presented by Exxon Mobil, (from left) NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, Houston Rockets CEO Tad Brown, NBA Commissioner David Stern, Houston Mayor Annise Parker and NBA Cares Ambassador Bob Lanier pose with local children at the NBA All-Star Jam Session at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
Rings for U.S. gold medalists
Tiffany & Co. presented members of the U.S. men’s and women’s teams with championship rings for their gold-medal performances at the 2012 Summer Olympics during State Farm All-Star Saturday Night on Feb. 16 at Toyota Center in Houston.
Photo by:ANDREW BERNSTEIN / NBAE / GETTY IMAGES
NBA Commissioner David Stern volunteered Feb. 15 at the Houston Food Bank as part of the NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service with support from SAP and State Farm.
BBVA salutes Rising Stars
All-Star Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder joined Angel Cano (left), BBVA Group COO and president, and Manolo Sanchez, BBVA Compass president and CEO, before the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge on Feb. 15.
Cisco executive and Stern
Cisco SVP and CMO Blair Christie with NBA Commissioner David Stern attend an NBA All-Star 2013 reception.
Photo by:RANDY BELICE / NBAE / GETTY IMAGES
Sprite at work
LeBron James joined Kimberly Paige (left), VP of Sprite trademark, Coca-Cola North America, and Ellen Lucey, director of sports marketing, Coca-Cola North America, during an appearance to unveil a refurbished gymnasium at the Boys & Girls Club of Houston on Feb. 16.
Photo by:LEON BENNETT / GETTY IMAGES
Sprint execs visit with league brass
At an NBA All-Star 2013 reception (from left): Mark Tatum, NBA EVP of global marketing partnerships; Sprint CMO Bill Malloy; Steve Gaffney, Sprint vice president of corporate marketing; WNBA President Laurel Richie; and NBA Commissioner David Stern.
Photo by:RAY AMATI / NBAE / GETTY IMAGES
SAP is in the house
After the launch of the new NBA.com/Stats site, powered by SAP’s HANA platform, SAP SVP Steve Peck joined NBA Commissioner David Stern at an NBA All-Star 2013 reception.
Photo by:RANDY BELICE / NBAE / GETTY IMAGES
Coming soon: ‘Nine for IX’ docs
ESPN Films and espnW on Feb. 19 announced the film slate for “Nine for IX,” a documentary series focused on stories of women in sports told through the lens of female filmmakers. From left: Heidi Ewing, Annie Sundberg, Ricki Stern, John Skipper, Rachel Grady, Hannah Storm and Shola Lynch.
Photo by:JOE FARAONI / ESPN IMAGES
Spurs take home ad award
The San Antonio Spurs won the National Sports Forum ADchievement Award for the Best Sports TV Spot recently at the National Sports Forum in Orlando. The winning spot was developed and produced by PM Group and sister company Quarter Moon Productions. From left: Brian Papson, director of marketing, Spurs Sports & Entertainment; Fran Yanity, PM Group president and COO; and Sheri Barros, Spurs Sports & Entertainment marketing manager.
Photo by:JASON YTUARTE / SPURS SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT
NESN’s Red Sox crew visits Amica
NESN’s Red Sox announcers and executives paid a visit to Amica Insurance at its Lincoln, R.I., headquarters Feb. 15 as part of NESN’s Spring Training Kickoff Tour. From left: John O’Leary, NESN general sales manager; Don Orsillo, NESN Red Sox play-by-play announcer; Jerry Remy, NESN Red Sox color analyst; Paul Pyne, Amica EVP and COO; Robert DiMuccio, Amica chairman, president and CEO; Jenny Dell, NESN Red Sox reporter; Lisa Magnes, NESN account executive; and Peter Morton, NESN local sales manager.
IMG College at hall ceremony
IMG College was a silver sponsor at the Black College Football Hall of Fame’s Enshrinement Ceremony on Feb. 16 in Atlanta. Cory Moss, managing director of The Collegiate Licensing Co., an affiliate of IMG College, poses with CLC employees (from left) Yvette Simmons, Brittel Lloyd and Ashtyn Montgomery.
Photo by:IMG COLLEGE
Tiffany & Co. held a private VIP cocktail party Feb. 15 in the Tiffany Lounge at the Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles, where the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust Open was being played. From left, with the Northern Trust Open trophy: Dennis Blake, Blake Sports Group founder and CEO; Rick Smith, pro golf instructor and host for the evening’s Q&A session; and Darren Blake, Blake Sports Group partner and COO.
Photo by:SARA BENTSON / TIFFANY
Latimer at Women in Sport celebration
TD Garden President Amy Latimer gives the keynote speech at the Massachusetts celebration of National Women and Girls in Sport Day. Latimer was introduced by NESN’s Naoko Funayama and addressed a crowd of more than 200 young female athletes from across the state at Faneuil Hall in Boston on Feb. 1.
Photo by:TD GARDEN
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Legendary Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss won 10 NBA championships, appeared in 16 NBA Finals and brought to the league the glittery mix of basketball and Hollywood that came to define his 34-year ownership of the gilded franchise. But Buss, who died last Monday at the age of 80, contributed to sports far more than a string of championships, the Laker Girls and Showtime basketball. He played a revolutionary role in how arenas are priced and how franchises operate.
Leading industry executives who worked with and for Buss, and who negotiated deals against him, described Buss last week as a visionary, someone with a natural instinct for the business, an owner who was willing to spend, and an executive with a razor-sharp style who was able to process numbers in his head faster than those across the table could with calculators.
Buss celebrates the Lakers’ sweep of the Nets in the 2002 NBA Finals.
Buss was considered a pricing pioneer. He created basketball’s version of “beachfront property” inside Los Angeles’ arena, simultaneously driving revenue while attracting the Hollywood star power that clamored to be seen courtside at Lakers games. But Buss’ financial drive wasn’t limited to measures inside the arena. He broke new ground in sports when he convinced Great Western Savings and Loan to put its name atop the Forum in 1988. He also created the Prime Ticket network in the mid-1980s, at the time one of the first sports cable networks and a precursor to the Lakers’ landmark present-day 25-year, $5 billion deal with Time Warner Cable.
“There wasn’t a business aspect that Jerry wasn’t involved in,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern. “Jerry repriced our entire league. Our courtside pricing was miniscule before Jerry. His view was that almost every courtside pricing was too low and he would increase pricing. That enhanced the pressure to keep a winning team and an entertaining atmosphere, but once he got people to the Forum and then the Staples Center, it was self-perpetuating.”
“When he got into basketball in 1979, most of the other owners looked at themselves as owners of teams in somewhat of an inferior sport,” said Chicago Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who bought the Bulls in 1985, adding that when he made the purchase, the first thing he did was look west, to Los Angeles, with an eye on mimicking Buss’ business practices. “He sensed that the public thought a lot more about the league than the owners did, and that’s why he was able to create value and people would be willing to pay for it. When I bought the Bulls, we didn’t have a floor seat, and I quickly learned from Jerry that we were giving away assets. He just has a great sense of how to provide a great product and he knew how to charge for it.”
“Before Buss, there was a very small premium put on front-row seats, like $2 to $10 per seat,” said Jon Spoelstra, who was president of the former New Jersey Nets in the early 1990s. “Within a few years, every team was putting a large premium on those seats. We had a lousy team, but we were able to raise the front-row tickets from $50 per seat per game to $300.”
But Buss’ development of the Lakers didn’t come without consideration for the league. Throughout his ownership, Buss supported key leaguewide initiatives, including subjects such as revenue sharing and the increasingly punitive salary cap, even though they might directly hurt his club’s finances. Buss was about helping the NBA as much as he was about building the Lakers.
Buss with daughter and team exec Jeanie Buss in 2006
Photo:NBAE / GETTY IMAGES
“He was a league man,” said Jerry Colangelo, former Phoenix Suns owner and former NBA Board of Governors chairman. “He was front and center in collective bargaining but he saw the big picture and made the right decisions. He was not locked into a big-market, small-market attitude. I remember the day he was admitted into the league: He was dressed in jeans and a white shirt, with the sleeves rolled up, and he lived his own lifestyle. But he recognized that you could package the whole area of premium seating in ways that no one had dreamed possible. He created tremendous value for his franchise and he passed on great tools for other owners.”
Buss knew that winning championships required the best players. That meant big contracts, but Buss rarely flinched at bringing in the best. Considered one of the most artful negotiators in the industry, he took a nonconfrontational approach to deals. And while he left most of the player negotiating to his general managers, Buss consistently took the lead on franchise-defining deals, including Magic Johnson’s 25-year, $25 million deal in 1981, along with Johnson’s deal years later to buy about 5 percent of the franchise after his retirement.
“When Jerry Buss negotiated a contract with you, he would give you options,” said Lon Rosen, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who worked for Buss starting in 1981 and later negotiated against him as Magic Johnson’s agent. “He was very analytical when he did contracts. He would give you, in some cases, three options. One option is you take more risk; another option is he takes more risk; and a third option is no risk. He didn’t handle a lot of the negotiations, but in Magic’s case he did. He had such a love for Magic Johnson.”
“He was thoughtful, diplomatic, fair-minded, and always able to appreciate and understand both sides of a heavily nuanced issue,” said Rob Pelinka, agent for present-day Lakers star Kobe Bryant. “Dr. Buss’ ultra-patient and transparent methods paved a road of almost always getting the result he deemed best for the Lakers.”
“You could make a deal with him on the phone, and it was like iron,” said Donald Dell, co-founder of ProServ, who said he respected Buss more than any team owner with whom he dealt in his decades of player representation. “His word was always good. When I represented James Worthy, we sat for 90 minutes in our first negotiating session. Then there was a bathroom break, and when I came back, he pulled down a blackboard on which the whole offer was completely written out. It completely caught me off guard. He loved to do stuff like that.”
Top: Kobe Bryant congratulates Buss as the owner receives his 2009-10 championship ring. Above: A Lakers fan honored Buss with a sign; the Lakers will honor him with a patch.
Photos:NBAE / GETTY IMAGES (3)
“He was the ultimate quick study,” said Leonard Armato, who represented both Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal with the Lakers. “It was always about getting to the point and reaching a solution that worked for both sides. There was never a negotiation with Jerry. It was this sort of easy journey to get to something that was right and fair for both sides. There was never any acrimony.”
Away from the NBA, Buss loved a poker table as much as a Lakers game, and his cunning style played well in both pursuits. He was always thinking ahead, contemplating how any action could be considered across (or around) the table. Through it all, he was known as a loyal boss who took a casual, hands-off approach in running his franchise. He set a relaxed tone within the organization and was viewed within the league as one of the best promoters in the game. Perhaps most important was that he always kept the fans in mind in running the Lakers.
“I couldn’t have a business conversation with him when within the first 30 seconds he would use the word ‘fan,’” said Lakers senior vice president Tim Harris. Harris began working for Buss when he was drafted in the mid-1980s by the then Buss-owned Major Indoor Soccer League Los Angeles Lazers. He went on to work for the Forum in the early 1990s and has worked for the Lakers since. “I would sit with him, and I’d go over suggested prices for the next year. I’d give him gross revenue potentials, and he’d tweak three or four price points, and he’d instantaneously spit out the figures. He had this intuitive feel for what the fan could afford, and he was analytic before there were any analytics. He was looking so far down the road while I was looking down the street.”
Buss talks shop with fellow owner Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks after the Lakers played a regular-season game in Dallas in 2002.
Photo:NBAE / GETTY IMAGES
“Everyone worked very hard, but it was a laid-back environment,” said Scott Carmichael, head of executive search firm Prodigy Sports, who was a Lakers ball boy before going on to hold a number of jobs at the Forum and the Lakers under Buss. “It was very business-casual dress, and that was a big deal then, because we are talking about the early 1980s. Buss just fostered a family type organization, and that produced the kind of loyalty you still see there. He was very accessible, and the press lounge was the place to be postgame. Jerry would always be there hanging out with his entourage. There were times we would leave at midnight, come back the next day, and Jerry would still be up from the night before playing poker with someone like [actor] Gabe Kaplan.”
“What you see on screen and what we’ve done with the Lakers is a total reflection of Dr. Buss’ vision,” said Melinda Witmer, executive vice president and chief video and content officer for Time Warner Cable. “‘What can we do to really serve the fan?’ That was the dominant theme throughout all of our discussions.”
“Who would have thought that a guy with a doctorate in chemistry would end up as a marvelous promoter,” said Pat Williams, Orlando Magic senior vice president. “And one of his greatest strengths was his ability to delegate. He made it clear that you didn’t come running to him if you can handle things.”
“He was a great owner for coaches,” said Hall of Fame coach Jack Ramsay. “He would get you players and spend the money, but you had to win. He never interfered, and you could use any style you wanted, and he gave you the tools to win. He was a formidable force in the NBA.”
Staff writers Terry Lefton, Liz Mullen, Don Muret and John Ourand contributed to this report.
Paul Alexander has a reputation for big-picture marketing ideas. The former Campbell Soup advertising executive landed at Liberty Mutual in 2008, and last year he spearheaded that company’s effort to land its biggest sports sponsorship: a four-year deal with the U.S. Olympic Committee. Since then, Alexander (senior vice president, communications) has spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how to use the Olympic rights effectively. The company recently devoted an entire day to the Olympics, bringing past Olympians in to meet staff.
The difference between actual behavior and expressed behavior is the marketing Holy Grail.”
The Olympic impact: They told me about [the impact it has on employees], but you really see it up close and personal. The enthusiasm, the joy, the kid-like excitement people have in meeting Olympians. You know it intellectually, but we had six athletes with us last week — people just loved meeting them.
Olympics vs. NFL sponsorship: Working with the USOC is a lot more transparent. The mutual dependency is that much more authentic. The majority of our dollars we provide goes to athletes, and their training is different from contributing to the NFL, which helped build our brand [at Campbell’s], but the majority of dollars goes to the National Football League.
Most interesting trend in marketing: Demystifying social. What’s really working in terms of building the business? Everyone believes it’s critical to brand-building and business-building, but I still don’t see many examples of sustainability and brands using it to build business and make money over time. It still feels a lot like hype over promise.
From soup to insurance: At Campbell’s, marketing was about category management; your biggest competitor was often inside the building. You’re trying to build red-and-white relative to Chunky soup, or Pepperidge Farm’s cookies versus Goldfish. With Liberty, it’s one master brand with different variations. Working at a mutual company, we’ve been able to make decisions faster. It would have taken twice as long to do this Olympic deal at Campbell’s because it’s a public company.
On neuroscience and marketing: That’s a very interesting part of marketing right now. The fascinating piece for me now is: Do marketers understand the role of emotion versus logic? What really drives people to change behavior? Does neuroscience or anthropology or sociology give us any tools that help us? You tell me you buy insurance because of the price, but if I look at the logic, you buy insurance because Uncle Joe’s salesman always gives great advice.
Three Olympic memories: I remember Brian Boitano winning in Calgary. I remember the 4x100-meter USA relay team dropping the baton in Beijing. I think back to Sugar Ray Leonard winning gold in boxing. There are just so many.
President and CEO,
ALL PHOTOS BY CHASE AGNELLO-DEAN / CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
Five years ago, John McDonough had a plan in mind for his United Center office.
“I wanted it to be a warm and inviting place,” said McDonough, who has been president and CEO of the Blackhawks since 2007. “Here, the hockey and business departments work collectively. We’re in my office together all the time. We make tough decisions here. I want this to be a place for fertile ideas, innovation, creativity and advancement.”
After more than two decades with the Cubs, McDonough’s space has become more Blackhawks-centric over his five years with the hockey club. “But there’s still some Cubs love,” McDonough said.
McDonough also likes to keep his door open as often as possible, for a reason. “I like the sound of laughter outside my office,” he said.