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Volume 24 No. 157

People and Pop Culture

The Fiesta Bowl board yesterday placed longtime President & CEO JOHN JUNKER "on paid administrative leave while an independent internal investigation examines allegations he was involved in improper political-campaign contributions and questionable expense reimbursements," according to Craig Harris of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. It is "unclear whether he would be asked to permanently resign or could be fully reinstated in the future." Until Junker's future with the bowl is determined, former Fiesta Bowl Chair ALAN YOUNG "will be interim chief of staff of the organization." The decision to place Junker on paid leave marks the "first time the Fiesta Bowl has acknowledged that Junker, who makes nearly $600,000 a year, has been questioned regarding potential financial irregularities." A report in December '09 cited past and present Fiesta Bowl employees as saying that they "were urged by Junker to make political contributions and were later reimbursed by the bowl, which is illegal." Bowl officials "stood behind Junker for months," saying that "neither Junker nor the bowl had done anything wrong." But shortly after the report appeared, the Fiesta Bowl "hired former Arizona Attorney General GRANT WOODS to conduct an investigation" into the findings. Bowl officials later "formed a special committee to conduct an independent investigation." That investigation is "ongoing, but some of its findings led to Junker being placed on administrative leave." Harris notes Fiesta Bowl Chair DUANE WOODS in recent months has "worked to tighten spending practices at the bowl," and he "had the bowl cut ties with all lobbyists" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 2/15). The Fiesta Bowl yesterday in a statement said that there is "no timetable for completion" of the investigation. Duane Woods last month said that he "expected findings by February" (, 2/14).

Big Lead Sports has hired Fox Sports Media Interactive Dir of Sales JORDAN BICK to the newly created position of Exec VP/Sales. Big Lead Sports also promoted YUSSUF KHAN to VP/Sales (Big Lead)....WWE has hired THOMAS VEIT as Senior VP/Live Events. Veit previously served as President for the MLS Philadelphia Union and PPL Park (WWE)....The Tim Tebow Foundation has appointed ERIK DELLENBACK as Exec Dir. Dellenback spent the past 11 years at the Gator Bowl Association, most recently as VP & CMO (Tebow Foundation)....USA Football has hired DAN LAWRENCE as Digital Media Production Coordinator, LAINEY RODGERS as Business Development Coordinator, ANDY RYLAND as Football Development Manager and VERONICA SANDER as Marketing Coordinator (USA Football)....The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America has elected ROBERT RANDQUIST as President (GCSAA).

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In Detroit, Bill Shea profiles HUNTER LOCHMANN, who left the Knicks in December to become the Univ. of Michigan athletic department's first CMO. Lochmann said, "It's a pretty unique position in college sports. There are going to be a lot of eyes on what I do and how I do it." Lochmann plans to "add at least a couple of more staffers to the current three full-time marketing positions," and also will "ask for more money for promotions." He plans to "explore how the department can better use its popular website,, while also looking at mobile device applications and other technologies to sell tickets and raise revenue" (CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS, 2/14 issue).

MAN WITH A PLAN: In Seattle, Charles Bermant profiled Korrio CEO STEVE GOLDMAN, whose company's mission is to "automate some of the youth-team-sports experience, helping manage the tasks needed to organize athletic programs." Goldman said, "If a game gets rained out or the other team doesn't show up, there has never been an elegant way to get the message out, short of calling everyone on a long phone list. With our program, the coach can log on and hit a few keystrokes and the message is delivered to everyone concerned in an e-mail, text message or phone call" (SEATTLE TIMES, 2/14).

Andrew Luck will buy a $5M insurance policy
through the NCAA for final season at Stanford
BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY: In N.Y., Pete Thamel noted Stanford QB ANDREW LUCK, who passed up this year's NFL Draft and "guaranteed millions to earn a degree in architectural design," will buy a $5M "insurance policy through the NCAA, and his family is exploring two additional policies." The value of those "will depend on the salary slot of the top NFL draft pick" under the league's new CBA. Luck's father, West Virginia AD OLIVER LUCK, said that the family "would buy insurance to supplement the NCAA's permanent and total disability policy." The Lucks also will "explore a third option, a loss-of-value policy in case Andrew's stock slips" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/13).

MAKING HIS MARK: Basketball HOFer KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR has produced "ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS," a documentary about the Harlem Rens, a "prolific, all-black professional basketball team that overcame racism to captivate the hearts and imaginations of its fans in Harlem" from 1922 to 1949. Last week, Abdul-Jabbar screened the film for about 1,000 students at Science Park High School in Newark (, 2/12).

NAMES: A federal judge in L.A. "has dismissed DAVID BECKHAM's claim for libel and slander" against In Touch magazine for a report that the Galaxy MF "slept with a prostitute." Beckham, who was seeking $25M in damages, plans to appeal the decision (, 2/15)....MLB and Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced the launch of the ’11 Honorary Bat Girl Contest, a campaign to recognize baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and have demonstrated a commitment to eradicating the disease. One Honorary Bat Girl for each MLB club on Mother’s Day will take part in pregame activities, be honored during an on-field ceremony and receive pink MLB merchandise and two tickets to the game (MLB)....The American Diabetes Association named Bears coach LOVIE SMITH and his wife, MARYANNE, honorary chairs for its annual “Care to Cure: A Sunday Brunch event” on March 6. Proceeds from the event at Soldier Field United Club will benefit diabetes research, programs and advocacy (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/14)….EPL club Arsenal investor ALISHER USMANOV has pushed Chelsea Owner ROMAN ABRAMOVICH “out of third position on the list of Russia’s richest people.” Abramovich’s wealth grew last year to $17.1B, but the “fortunes of his rivals grew faster.” Usmanov’s total wealth is $19.9B, “propelling him up the list from seventh place last year.” It is the first time Abramovich “has been outside the top three” (London TELEGRAPH, 2/15)….The federal court trial date for former adidas America Senior Marketing Manager BRITNEY ERIN OBSTAR, “charged with mail fraud," has been moved from today to July 12 (, 2/14).