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The San Diego Padres hired A.J. Preller as general manager. Preller was assistant general manager for the Texas Rangers.
The National Basketball Retired Players Association named ESPN/ABC analyst Jalen Rose the organization’s official ambassador.
The Big East Conference hired Debbie Williamson as supervisor of officials for women’s basketball. Williamson was national coordinator of women’s basketball officiating and secretary-rules editor for the NCAA.
University of Iowa named Mark Hankins assistant to the athletic director. Hankins was the university’s men’s golf coach.
The University of Akron hired Cathy Bongiovi as assistant athletic director for communications. Bongiovi was associate director for athletic communications at Temple University.
The University of Tennessee promoted Greg Hulen to chief development officer.
Florida Institute of Technology named John Thomas associate vice president for athletic fundraising. Thomas was the university’s assistant vice president for economic development and community affairs.
The University of Nebraska-Kearney promoted Rich Brodersen to senior associate athletic director and Bill Murphy to assistant athletic director for sports medicine.
Middle Tennessee State University hired Keith McCluney as associate athletic director for development. McCluney was director of regional development for the Deacon Club at Wake Forest University.
The Division I Football Championship Subdivision Athletics Directors Association named Ken Beazer, Southern Utah University, president; Jeff Tingey, Idaho State University, 1st vice president; Mark Wilson, Tennessee Tech University, 2nd vice president; and Thorr Bjorn, University of Rhode Island, 3rd vice president. Brian Reese, Presbyterian College; Mark Sandy, Eastern Kentucky; and Bill Smith, Bryant University, were named to the executive committee.
The National Football League hired Brian Banks as a manager in the football operations department. Banks will also assist the officiating department on game days.
Andretti Sports Marketing hired Tim Ramsberger as a vice president. Ramsberger was president of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Front Row Marketing Services named Tony Goldenstein director of corporate partnerships for the University of North Dakota athletics, Dustin Morris director of corporate partnerships for the University of Alaska Anchorage athletics, Jim White director of corporate sponsorships and Sarah Wedel premium seating and group sales manager at Independence Events Center in Independence (Mo.).
Marketing agency George P. Johnson launched a new unit that will specialize in sports marketing, and named Kevin Bartram senior vice president and Jon Hickey executive director of the new sports unit.
IMG College hired Kenny Washington as general manager for its partnership at North Carolina A&T State University.
Octagon hired Shea Warnes as a digital strategist. Warnes was a social strategist for BBH London.
Sports-EntCo hired Adam Bakow as vice president of baseball.
Back9Network promoted Charles Cox to chief executive officer. Also, the company added the role of chief operating officer to President Carlos Silva, and to co-founder Reid Gorman, the titles of chief administrative officer and executive vice president of golf industry relations.
ESPN hired Julie Souza as vice president of business development and strategy. Souza was vice president of business development for Sports Illustrated.
ESPN Digital and Print Media hired Amy DuBois Barnett as executive editor for Jason Whitlock’s new ESPN site serving African-American audiences. Barnett was editor-in-chief of Ebony magazine.
The Madison Square Garden Co. hired Sean Creamer as executive vice president and chief financial officer, effective Sept. 1. Creamer was formerly president and chief executive officer for Arbitron.
The Australian Olympic Committee named Fiona de Jong secretary general. De Jong replaces Craig Phillips, who was with the AOC for 23 years.
Sporting Goods and Apparel
Respect Your Universe promoted Marcello Leone to chief executive officer.
Awards and Boards
Philly Sports Holdings named former Philadelphia Flyers President Peter Luukko chairman.
The Women’s Sports Foundation named Deborah Slaner Larkin chief executive officer, and Madeline Weinstein to the board of trustees.
Under Armour named George Bodenheimer, former ESPN executive chair, to its board of directors.
Apple hired Musa Tariq as digital marketing director. Tariq was global senior director of social media and community for Nike.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship hired Carlos Juarez as vice president of Spanish language production. Juarez was director of production for Fox Networks.
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The business-to-business side of sponsorship spending doesn’t typically get as much attention as what the likes of beverage, auto and fast-food brands do, but the dollars can be just as large. Case in point: Alvimedica, a Turkish-based manufacturer of stents and catheters. Dr. Cem Bozkurt, CEO of Alvimedica, talks here about the company spending $20 million to sponsor a boat and a team in the Volvo Ocean Race, where 65-foot sailboats will traverse four oceans and 40,000 nautical miles during a nine-month competition that starts in October.
Look at the amount of [media] impressions this event gets around the world. Last time, it was 1.5 billion. If we get that many people to learn the word Alvimedica and realize our boat is the one with a big heart on it, they will remember us and what we do in health care.”
Return on investment: We already see ways where that [$20 million investment] is paying us back. We’re out there with brand-recognition studies, and I can tell you that over the past few months that has taken a tremendous jump.
Photo by:MARTIN-RAGET / TEAM ALVIMEDICA
Charting a course: We’re targeting cardiologists, hospital CFOs and senior hospital management. If you look at the 10 stopovers for the race, we’re already doing business in nine of them, and we’re launching in North America. So you’ve got an event that covers our most important markets. On stopovers, we will be doing some scientific activity, conferences and presentations, showing results from clinical trials and talking about our product portfolio. We looked hard for something global where we could really make a mark, and the branding opportunities in sailing combined with the fact that you aren’t competing with dozens of companies sponsoring the same thing really made the Volvo Ocean Race a pretty easy decision for us.
— Terry Lefton
Photo:COURTESY OF WINCRAFT
WinCraft started in 1961 as a business that sold “cheer products” to high schools. It still counts high schools among its customers, and its product line still includes pompoms and megaphones. However, the privately held company now has 10 plants, more than 550 employees, and sells tens of thousands of items festooned with images from hundreds of licenses, including every American big league sport, many colleges, and the FIFA World Cup.
At this year’s MLB All-Star Game in Minneapolis, Pope spoke with SportsBusiness Journal’s Terry Lefton about his years in the business and how his wife thinks he still works too much.
“Everyone else was importing when I started; my model from the beginning was that you can’t build a business unless you make something yourself. Now, when someone shows us a new product, the first thing we look at is whether we can make it ourselves.”
■ I was born and raised on a farm in Cleveland, Minn., (current population: 712) so I thought I’d be a farmer. My whole family had been farmers and I was the first to go to college. My high school graduating class had 12 students. I had an academic [college] scholarship, so my mother insisted.
WinCraft Chairman/CEO Richard Pope and President John Killen
Photo:COURTESY OF WINCRAFT
■ No one had ever done a championship ring for professional football before, so I got the job no one wanted: pitching Coach [Vince] Lombardi on a championship ring.
■ I ended up selling rings to four of the first five [Super Bowl] winning coaches. It was such a different time. When I went to pitch Hank Stram at Kansas City, he picked me up at the airport and drove me back.
■ I was the third person Jostens sent through the University of Minnesota executive program. There was an eight-hour battery of tests after which the psychologist asked me, “What are you doing working for somebody else? You fit the profile of an entrepreneur.” Two years later, I was.
■ I can’t say I had any great vision. The business then barely existed, so I certainly saw some opportunity. Licensing wasn’t even a business then, really.
■ If you wanted something with a team name on it, you went to a game and bought it from a concessionaire, who didn’t even have to buy it from a licensee.
Pope says the NFL was among the first to follow strict quality control, “which helped everyone’s licensing business.”
Photos by:AP IMAGES
■ The bar on logistics, quality control, compliance, and technology with the biggest retailers is so high now, it’s a different game.
■ I can recall when we first started with championship events, we didn’t start selling until the game was over, and I couldn’t figure out why we weren’t selling any. Now, we start shipping as soon as the event is over.
■ At an NFL licensing meeting in the early ’80s,
■ I follow a lot of basic rules:
1. Winners sell, almost regardless of the product.
2. We aren’t going to grow any faster than our retailers, so customer service is No. 1.
3. Money doesn’t make you smarter. Some licensing companies had some success and right away got too many properties … and a lot of advertising and marketing commitments. I don’t care much if a consumer knows WinCraft, because the brands we are selling are the teams.
■ We’ve never advertised in all of our years, because we’re a B-to-B company, so the reputation that’s important is the one with our retailers and our licensors.
■ When you look at the investment all the leagues are making overseas, certainly we’ll follow. We’ve had every soccer program in the U.S. since Pelé, but the only big success was when the U.S. had the World Cup [in 1994].
“My wife [Sandy, above] says I work too much, but I still feel like I’m seeing friends when I go to work.”
Photo:COURTESY OF WINCRAFT
■ There is some maturity in all of our licenses, but at the same time, I see more opportunity today than ever.
■ My wife says I work too much, but I still feel like I’m seeing friends when I go to work.
■ When I started in this business, I didn’t set a financial goal and I didn’t set a retirement date. If I had set a goal, I would have quit too soon.
■ At WinCraft, we don’t have any [mandatory] retirement age, and I guess that includes me.