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Volume 24 No. 117

People and Pop Culture

TED FORSTMANN, a pioneer of the leveraged-buyout industry who turned around companies like Gulfstream Aerospace and Dr Pepper before acquiring and transforming the business of one of sports’ premier agencies, IMG, died yesterday at the age of 71. The cause was brain cancer, an IMG spokesperson said. Forstmann became a figure in the sports world in '04 when he bought IMG for $750M and began reshaping its business by shedding its famous professional sports agent operation and replacing it with a robust college sports business. His focus on earnings spurred an abrupt cultural change at the company, led to the departure of an array of longtime executives and triggered public criticism that IMG had become less innovative. But he combated any turmoil and criticism by insisting that he’d turned IMG into a moneymaking enterprise with more than $110M in profits in '10. His biggest bet, a $300M investment in college sports between '07-10, was an immediate benefit to the company’s bottom line. According to people who have seen the company’s books, the college business will be half of the company’s earnings this year, when EBITDA is set to hit $160M. Those numbers could not be independently verified. IMG Sports & Entertainment President GEORGE PYNE said, “Ted’s a builder. He wanted to build and grow and change paradigms, and the investment in college sports speaks to all of that” (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal). IMG President & COO MICHAEL DOLAN in a letter to employees wrote, “Tenacious, ambitious and an inspiring visionary, Ted was a self-made businessman and a brilliant dealmaker.” The letter continued, “Ted’s passion and commitment to every task he undertook helped turn IMG into a global powerhouse in the sports, fashion and media businesses. Under Ted’s leadership, the company experienced unprecedented growth, both domestically and internationally. We solidified our position as the leader in collegiate marketing, licensing and media rights; we forged meaningful long-term growth prospects through our joint ventures in the emerging markets of India, Brazil and China. ... In no short order, Ted transformed IMG from a sports talent agency into a rapidly growing business at the epicenter of sports, fashion and media. He was a man of unmatched drive and a visionary in every sense of the word.” Dolan concluded, “In the spirit of Ted’s legacy, let us remain steadfastly focused on continuing to make him proud” (IMG).

PRIVATE EQUITY PIONEER: In N.Y., Andrew Ross Sorkin writes Forstmann was among the “very first executives to use debt to acquire companies, fix them and then sell them for millions -- and sometimes billions -- of dollars in profits.” Beginning in the late '70s, he “pooled money from wealthy investors and large pension funds to back his acquisitions, while taking 20 percent of the profits, creating a business model that today is known as the private equity industry.” Forstmann over the next three decades “bought, sold and turned around dozens of companies.” Over the past seven years, he had "worked steadily on his last big investment: IMG.” The company “encompassed everything he loved: deal-making and sports” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/21). Dolan said that Forstmann was a “complex, brilliant person who was the quintessential entrepreneur.” He added that Forstmann “would remember numbers for years and had the ability to spot a company's potential, no matter whether it marketed athletes or made aircraft or soft drinks.” Dolan: "He had no problem jumping into an opportunity. That's what makes an entrepreneur, someone who sees something that other people don't see and says 'I'm going to go after this'" (AP, 11/20). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Zuckerman & Futterman note Forstmann was “a longtime bachelor and built a fortune amid the buyout wave of the 1980s and 1990s, even as he railed against the so-called junk bonds used in many deals of that period.” With his “love of the spotlight, his outspoken opinions and shock of thick, white hair, he graced magazine covers and issued broadsides at his competitors.” After being diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and receiving medical treatments, Forstmann “continued to come into the office regularly, expressing interest in expanding IMG so he would have more to give away” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/21). Forbes magazine in March estimated Forstmann’s net worth “to be $1.6 billion.” He had “promised to give the majority of his wealth to charitable causes, including the Children’s Scholarship Fund” (L.A. TIMES, 11/21). A Memorial Mass will be held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in N.Y. on Nov. 29 at 10am ET (THE DAILY).

Former NASCAR Managing Dir of Communications RAMSEY POSTON is opening his own crisis communications firm. Tuckahoe Strategies, which will be based in Maryland, will offer strategic counseling, crisis management and legal communications services. Poston has formed strategic alliances with Levick Strategic Communications and Dominion Strategies, two DC-based communication agencies. He will continue to work with NASCAR and plans to work with four other clients, which will leave room to take on crisis management and emergency consulting opportunities as they emerge. Poston said, “The overall vision is to be the go-to agency for clients, especially those in sports, that have one of three needs. One is to work with companies to improve overall communications. Two, on the crisis management side, is to help companies be prepared for crises before they happen. Three is I can come in and work with clients and assist clients with crises on the ground.” Poston, a graduate of Roger Williams University, was a Senior VP at the communications firm Powell Tate before joining NASCAR in '04. He left the sanctioning body earlier this year after eight years of work.

Timbers COO MIKE GOLUB “received the 2011 MLS Executive of the Year award, one of many MLS year-end individual and team awards” won by the team, according to Geoffrey Arnold of the Portland OREGONIAN. In his first season as COO, Golub “led the Timbers’ highly successful first-year transition into MLS.” The team “sold out all 17 home games in 2011 and are sold out for the 2012 season.” Timbers Senior VP/Business Development & Broadcasting RYAN BRACH was named MLS Corporate Partnerships Executive of the Year, VP/Ticket Sales & Services JOE COTE was named MLS Ticketing Executive of the Year, and VP/Business Operations & Marketing CORY DOLICH was named MLS Marketing Executive of the Year. Timbers Dir of Digital Media Brian Costello "received the local digital editor of the year award” (Portland OREGONIAN, 11/21).

Competitor Group Senior VP/Marketing BOUKER POOL will be leaving the company at the end of November to lead marketing efforts at the newly formed USA Today Sports Group (THE DAILY)....Learfield Sports named MARY-BEC GWYN GM for its Univ. of Toledo sports property. Gwyn previously held the same position with Nelligan Sports Marketing for its Missouri State Univ. sports property (Learfield Sports).

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In N.Y., Viera, Becker & Thamel reported the Second Mile charity founded by former Penn State assistant football coach JERRY SANDUSKY is "preparing to fold as it tries to reconstruct what it knew, and did, about any suspicions or allegations against Sandusky over the years." The Second Mile Interim CEO DAVID WOODLE said Friday that the foundation "was seeking to transfer its programs to other nonprofit organizations." The charity's leaders "are looking at organizations that could, and would, carry forward the foundation's work with disadvantaged youths." Woodle said, "We're working hard to figure out how the programs can survive this event. We aren't protective of this organization that it survives at all costs" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/19).

Obama and Biden served as honorary
grand marshals at yesterday's race

SPECIAL EVENTS: In Miami, Long, Beasley & Cote note First Lady MICHELLE OBAMA and Second Lady Dr. JILL BIDEN served as the honorary grand marshals at yesterday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Heightened security "caused long lines entering the racetrack, with many fans waiting roughly an hour" to pass through checkpoints. Warm "applause, though with a smattering of booing, greeted the pre-race introduction of the First Lady" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/21)....YAHOO SPORTS' Steve Henson reported Baskeball HOFer JULIUS ERVING's "biggest payday by far came in the wee hours Sunday morning when an online auction closed and 144 of his possessions had sold for $3,552,627." Erving's '74 ABA Nets championship ring "fetched $460,741, the highest total ever for a sports ring." Five more of Erving's rings "each exceeded $195,000." Three MVP trophies "each exceeded $165,000." Nearly "everything went higher than expected" (, 11/20).

HOF CALIBER: White Sox Vice Chair EDDIE EINHORN yesterday was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball HOF. Einhorn earned the induction "largely because of his vision in founding the TVS Television Network in 1965, which helped catapult college basketball into national prominence." Einhorn "invited friends from all areas of his life in sports to join him" for the induction ceremony in K.C. (, 11/20). Also inducted to the NCB HOF yesterday were RALPH SAMPSON, CHRIS MULLIN, EDDIE SUTTON, JOE VANCISIN, CAZZIE RUSSELL, JAMES WORTHY and BOB KNIGHT (K.C. STAR, 11/21).

NAMES: D'Backs President & CEO DERRICK HALL returned home Thursday, nine days "after having surgery to remove his prostate." Hall's doctors are "optimistic that he will make a complete recovery" (, 11/18)....Actor SYLVESTER STALLONE has "teamed up with heavyweight boxing legends WLADIMIR and VITALI KLITSCHKO" to create a musical version of "ROCKY." Producers Stage Entertainment said that the musical will "incorporate many of the tub-thumping hits from the film," including "Eye of the Tiger" and "Gonna Fly Now." The musical "will be in German and so far casting has not been finalised." Stage Entertainment spokesperson HOLGER KERSTING said that the Klitschko brothers "will co-produce the musical along with Stallone and train the main actors" in boxing (London TELEGRAPH, 11/21)....76ers Owner JOSHUA HARRIS ran in the 18th annual Philadelphia Marathon, finishing with a "personal-best time" of 3:48. It was his "third career marathon and first" in Philadelphia (, 11/21)....Maple Leafs President & GM BRIAN BURKE recently opened a Twitter account under the handle @LeafsBB20, and he had about 29,000 followers at presstime (, 11/19)....Mavericks G JASON KIDD recently put his $1.6M Dallas condo on the market. The condo is located "just a few blocks from the American Airlines Center" (, 11/19)....Heat F CHRIS BOSH and wife, ADRIENNE, are “expecting their first child, a boy” (N.Y. POST, 11/21).

IN MEMORY: LARRY MUNSON, who retired in '08 after doing play-by-play for the Univ. of Georgia for 43 seasons, died last night at his Athens home from complications from pneumonia. Munson was 89. Funeral arrangements have not been determined. Munson became a household name in Georgia for his calls in his “distinctive gravely voice -- with his unabashed favoritism for the Bulldogs” (ATHENS BANNER-HERALD, 11/21). In Atlanta, Mark Bradley wrote, “He wasn’t the classic radio voice. On purely technical terms, he wasn’t the paragon of play-by-play, either. But such was the power of the mighty Munson personality that none of that mattered” (, 11/20).