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Volume 24 No. 114

People and Pop Culture

NBC Sports President KEN SCHANZER announced his retirement to his staff this morning, writing in a memo to his department, "For those of you who've heard this before -- this time it's for real." The longtime NBC exec said he had come close to retiring twice before, in November '08 and July '10. Both times DICK EBERSOL convinced him to stay. "I stayed because Dick asked me to stay," he said. "When Dick left and Mark took over, I felt that it was an appropriate time." Schanzer has agreed to remain at the network through the summer to ease the transition to MARK LAZARUS, who took over as NBC Sports Group Chair last week after Ebersol resigned. NBC is in the midst of negotiating rights to Wimbledon and just starting negotiations for the PGA Tour -- two relationships that Schanzer has handled for years. "I'd like to be involved in getting those resolved favorably," he said. "I've dealt with both entities for a long time." Schanzer, who had been president of NBC Sports since '98, was a close confidant of Ebersol's and said he decided to leave soon after he learned of Ebersol's resignation. "I began having conversations with [NBC Universal CEO] STEVE BURKE almost immediately," he said. "Steve has been great and sensitive to what I wanted to do. I couldn't be more grateful."

CULTURE CLASH DOWNPLAYED: Schanzer dismissed reports of a culture clash between NBC Sports and Comcast that surfaced soon after Ebersol left. "I don't think that's what was in play here," he said. "The way they do things might differ by degree over the way we did things. ... But this is not a clash of cultures." It is not clear how Lazarus will fill Schanzer's post. "This seems like an appropriate time," Schanzer said. "This gives Mark an opportunity to put people in place who will be here for a long time." The departure of NBC Sports' top two execs comes just over four months after Comcast's acquisition of NBC gained regulatory approval. The resignations also come just a couple of weeks before the IOC plans to accept bids for the '14 Sochi and '16 Rio de Janeiro Games. Schanzer said he has a lot of affection for NBC, which has been his home for 30 years. "I love this place. I've been here for a long, long time," he said. "I'm going out with a great feeling for the place."

IRISH EYES ARE SMILING: Asked to reflect on his career at NBC, Schanzer brought up the Notre Dame deal that he crafted, which was a ground-breaking deal when it was signed in '91. "Notre Dame has become an extraordinary part of my family's life," he said. Schanzer said he started his career at NBC during the Reagan administration. He remembered one of his first meetings with late NFL Commissioner PETE ROZELLE. "There was a little voice inside my head saying, 'Why is he listening to you?'" Schanzer said. "I've gotten to live one of the most extraordinary lives. ... I don't have one scintilla of regret." He joked the only person who may not be excited about his retirement is his wife. "My wife married me for better or for worse, but not for lunch," he joked.

The PBR named Genesis Advantage Partner & CEO TERRY BASSETT Exec VP/Sales & Partnerships (PBR)....The Suns named ZAHEER BENJAMIN Dir of Financial Planning (Suns)....SportsMark Management Group promoted Senior Dir of Corporate Communications & Brand Management JOANNA STOTT to VP/Marketing Communications & Brand Development and Senior Account Dir LYNN BLUMBERG to Dir of Olympic Operations. Blumberg will relocate to the company's London office (SportsMark)....SportsOne promoted Senior Project Manager SUSAN ETZEL GONZALEZ to Dir of Projects & Client Services (SportsOne)....Paragon Marketing Group has promoted T.J. COHEN, AMY ROUSE and BRAD SMITH to VP and Account Dir positions (THE DAILY)....The U.S. Bowling Congress named HERMAN GLENN Dir of Equipment Specifications (USBC)....The Univ. of Tennessee named Univ. of Massachusetts Associate AD/Media Relations JASON YELLIN Assistant AD/Media Relations (UT)....Charlotte Lacrosse LLC named DAMON ROSCHKE Ticket Sales Manager for the city's new MLL team (THE DAILY).  

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In the wake of destructive tornadoes across the U.S., several athletes and teams have announced contributions to relief efforts. Yankees P DAVID ROBERTSON, who grew up in Tuscaloosa and went to the Univ. of Alabama, has “set up a foundation to raise money for the victims” of the tornados in Alabama last month. He “will donated $100 for every strikeout to the David and Erin Robertson Fund” (N.Y. POST, 5/26)….The Chiefs are “collecting bottled water and contributing $35,000 to assist the victims” of the tornadoes in Reading, Kan., and Joplin, Mo. The Rams “plan to get involved with the relief effort” after GM BILL DEVANEY and coach STEVE SPAGNUOLO return from the NFL meetings in Indianapolis. The Colts “asked fans to donate bottled water, disposable diapers or money” (AP, 5/24)….Royals Charities will “donate $35,000 to Heart to Heart International, a Kansas-based emergency response organization.” Heart to Heart International will be collecting “donations of cash and hygiene kits for the victims of the tornadoes” today and Friday at Kauffman Stadium (, 5/25)….The Twins on Saturday will host an autograph session featuring Ps MATT CAPPS, BRIAN DUENSING and C DREW BUTERA with all proceeds benefitting American Red Cross relief efforts in Minnesota (AP, 5/25)….Florida Citrus Sports yesterday announced an initiative to “help raise money for tornado relief, specifically in Tuscaloosa, with a $100,000 donation” (, 5/25).

FOOTBALL FIASCO: FIFA Exec Committee members MOHAMED BIN HAMMAM, who is running for FIFA President in the upcoming election, and JACK WARNER “will be accused of offering $40,000 cash brides to national football associations when they appear before a FIFA ethics committee hearing on Sunday.” The allegations “are contained in a report compiled by” FIFA Exec Committee member CHUCK BLAZER that “has thrown the presidential election into chaos just a week before the vote, and deepened the corruption crisis engulfing” the organization. FIFA “opened disciplinary proceedings against Bin Hammam and Warner on Wednesday” (London TELEGRAPH, 5/26).

SHOW BIZ: Mavericks F SHAWN MARION this offseason “will shoot a reality TV pilot he said has been in the works for more than a year.” The show, called “The Ladies of My Life,” will feature Marion’s mother ELAINE, his twin sister SHAWNETT and his two younger sisters. Marion’s personal assistant CRAIG CARTER said that “a couple of cable networks are interested in the show, but there is no deal in place” (, 5/25)….In N.Y., Gina Bellafante reviews “4th and Forever,” a new series about Long Beach Polytechnic High School's football team that “bills itself as an unfolding documentary even as it bears all the stagey hallmarks of conventional reality programming.” The series, which debuts tonight Current TV, “examines Poly’s football team at a turning point, the 2010 season,” and talks about the “problem of absent stewards.” But “for the most part it shows us parents and caregivers who push their children to succeed and remain present, a fact that seems to undermine the football mystique the show tries to uphold” (N.Y. TIMES, 5/26).

NAMES: A source said that outgoing NBC Sports Chair DICK EBERSOL “might be a fit” for the next MLB commissioner. In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley noted Ebersol “may have been the best public relations person in the history of sports television and that’s not a bad asset to have for the job of commissioner of any sport” (, 5/25)….ESPN’s JALEN ROSE yesterday pleaded guilty to “drunken driving, telling a judge he was embarrassed to admit that he drank six martinis the night he veered off a snowy road and rolled his Cadillac Escalade” (AP, 5/25)…’s SAM SMITH is “being honored as the inaugural winner of the Phil Jasner Lifetime Achievement Award by the Professional Basketball Writers Association” (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 5/26)….Vikings Owner ZYGI WILF and his stadium development team and AEG President & CEO TIM LEIWEKE and other AEG officials were “spotted at the W Hotel in downtown Minneapolis on Tuesday night” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/26)….Former Wild GM TOM LYNN “has been certified as an agent” by the NHLPA, has joined the Minnesota Bar and “soon is expected to announce a run for St. Paul City Council” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/26)….The road running past the Palace of Auburn Hills has been renamed “William Davidson Memorial Highway,” in memory of the late Pistons owner (, 5/25)….Cowboys Owner JERRY JONES yesterday said the NFL has given him “special permission” to attend QB TONY ROMO’s wedding in Dallas on Saturday, even though the lockout prohibits teams from speaking with players (, 5/25).

IN MEMORY: Royals broadcaster and former P PAUL SPLITTORFF died yesterday at the age of 64 “after a battle with oral cancer and melanoma.” Splittorff’s transition from a player, where he earned more wins than any other Royals pitcher in history, to the broadcast booth in the '80s “was immediate and smooth.” He also called Big 12 sports (K.C. STAR, 5/26). The Royals will wear commemorative black patches for the rest of the season, with “SPLITT” in “capital white letters.” Splittorff is “fondly remembered as a professional who transcended the usual boundaries for an ex-player entering the broadcast world” (K.C. STAR, 5/26)....Late NBPA General Counsel GARY HALL's funeral was held yesterday in East Syracuse, N.Y., and NBPA Exec Dir BILLY HUNTER gave one of four eulogies at the service. He "broke down in tears discussing how he and Hall had discussed dying and how he found him deceased in his New York apartment." The entire NBPA staff based in N.Y. attended the funeral (Syracuse POST-STANDARD, 5/26). NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO ADAM SILVER and NBA Senior VP & Deputy General Counsel DAN RUBE also attended the funeral (THE DAILY).