SBJ/Oct. 7-13, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

EA Sports’ athlete relations director exits company amid executive changes

Sandy Sandoval, longtime senior director of athlete relations for EA Sports, has left that position to pursue other opportunities.

“I left,” Sandoval said in a brief telephone interview last week. “We just parted ways. I am 57. I just decided to do my own thing. I don’t know what that is yet. But I am going to figure it out.”

Sandoval maintained EA Sports’ relationships with athletes, agents and players unions and was involved in decisions and negotiations on player deals, including which players would be featured on the covers of EA Sports games. Sandoval first joined EA Sports in 1995.

David Tinson, EA Sports vice president of communications, said, “Sandy is no longer with the company. He left to pursue other opportunities.” Tinson declined further comment. EA Sports had not replaced Sandoval as of last week, and it was not clear whether the company would do so.

Sandoval said he had left the company in the last month. He said that he did not know whether he would join another firm or start his own, but that whatever he did next would involve athletes and marketing.

“Those are two of my strengths, obviously,” Sandoval said. “My expertise is securing athletes and relationship-building and I learned it at EA. They gave me a great platform, and I am going to take it into a new venture.”

Sandoval said last week he planned to spend some time exploring potential opportunities. “Right now I plan on enjoying some [free] time,” he said.

Sandoval’s exit comes during a period of change for the video game publisher. Andrew Wilson, formerly head of EA Sports, last month was elevated to chief executive of EA Sports parent Electronic Arts Inc., and Patrick Söderlund was appointed to take Wilson’s old spot while also running EA Games.

EA Sports also recently announced plans to shut down production of its “NCAA Football” game franchise, in large part because of turbulence in college sports licensing and the pay-for-play debate. The company intends to retain most of its personnel involved in the game, but the move will inevitably result in some job losses due to consolidation.

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