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Volume 24 No. 155

People and Pop Culture

Daytona Int'l Speedway promoted JERRY MUGERDITCHIAN to Senior Manager of Tram Operations & Logistics, effective April 1 (DIS)….The CFL Winnipeg Blue Bombers named Canadian Union of Public Employees Manitoba Communications Rep LIAM MARTIN and Investors Group Field Project Manager OSSAMA ABOUZEID to its BOD (Blue Bombers)….The Univ. of Tennessee will “eliminate 17 full-time positions as part of its consolidation of the men's and women's athletics departments.” The 17 employees “have been notified that their positions will be eliminated June 1.” Associate SID JOHN PAINTER “confirmed he is one of the employees who will be laid off” (, 4/16).

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In Ft. Lauderdale, Jon Burstein reports attorneys seeking to "recoup money for Ponzi schemer SCOTT ROTHSTEIN's investors filed lawsuits" yesterday against local charities the Dan Marino Foundation and HomeSafe, "demanding the return of hefty contributions made by the flashy fraudster." HERBERT STETTIN, trustee for the Rothstein victims, wants the Dan Marino Foundation "to return $259,000." Attorney KEN SCHERER, who is representing both charities, said his clients are "just as much victims as the other parties involved in the Rothstein scandal." He added, "There's not a suggestion that either charity knew about the wrongs of Rothstein and his firm" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/17).

LIFE AWAY FROM THE LINKS: Retired golfer ANNIKA SORENSTAM appeared on Golf Channel’s “FEHERTY” last night, and host DAVID FEHERTY said she was the “only female equivalent I can think of to Greg Norman, who also doesn’t compete anymore to any extent at all but has a business empire.” Feherty: “You’re into wine, you’re into teaching, you’re into clothing. You’re like a really nice MARTHA STEWART.” Sorenstam said she “stepped away from competitive golf but it doesn’t mean you lose your competiveness." Sorenstam: "You don’t lose the desire to still work hard. I just didn’t want to work hard in that area.” Sorenstam added she wants the Annika Academy “to be the best academy out there” and she wants to be “good at what I do and I want to take my values I have and put that into the businesses and pursue a career that way.” Feherty: “Annika is an industry unto herself” (“Feherty,” Golf Channel, 4/16).

BATTLING AUTISM: The Metropolitan Museum of Art in N.Y. yesterday hosted the Lead Off For a Cure gala "in support of autism awareness." More than 400 people "attended a dinner and silent auction in support of Autism Speaks and the Gillen Brewer School," and MLB Commissioner BUD SELIG served as co-chair for the event. Several former MLBers attended the event, including REGGIE SANDERS and MITCH WILLIAMS, who "stepped forward to talk about their personal connection to the cause" (, 4/17).

AGENCY NEWS: Packers QB AARON RODGERS hired ANDREW JETER as his marketing agent, replacing firm H Koal. Jeter previously worked for Encore Sports & Entertainment, but "has left the firm." Athletes First agent DAVID DUNN will continue to handle Rodgers' contractual needs (, 4/16)....A source said that Cowboys LB ANTHONY SPENCER over the weekend left Maximum Sports Management agent ROOSEVELT BARNES and will sign with agent JORDAN WOY (, 4/16).

PAID IN FULL: U.S. skier LINDSEY VONN on Facebook said that she has "paid off the more than $1.7 million she owed in back taxes." The amount was first reported by the Detroit News after the IRS handed Vonn and her estranged husband THOMAS VONN a tax lien earlier this month. Vonn said, "Not being in control of my finances and relying on someone else who you believed had your best interest at heart was a mistake and one I will not make twice" (, 4/16).

NAMES: NFL Panthers OT JORDAN GROSS chose his former high school, Idaho's Fruitland High, to receive $1,500 worth of new football equipment from Indianapolis-based USA Football. The organization in December selected Gross and 25 other NFLers for its All-Fundamentals team, and gave each player a $1,500 equipment donation to award to the youth or high school program of his choice (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/17)....Colts Owner JIM IRSAY announced on Twitter that he will give away a BMW to the individual who can "guess all the first round picks in the NFL draft," which begins next Thursday (, 4/16)....Golfer STEVE STRICKER recently presented a check for $25,000 to the Univ. of Wisconsin to support the Steve & Nicki Stricker Scholarship Fund (UW)….The U.S. House of Representatives “voted to bestow the Congressional Gold Medal” upon JACK NICKLAUS. The legislation now goes to the Senate for a vote. ARNOLD PALMER received the award in ’09 (AP, 4/16)....Patriots Owner ROBERT KRAFT and Republican presidential candidate MITT ROMNEY attended yesterday's Rays-Red Sox game at Fenway Park (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/17)....Polish Ambassador to the U.S. ROBERT KUPIECKI sat courtside next to Suns Managing Partner ROBERT SARVER for last night's Trail Blazers-Suns game (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 4/17).

IN MEMORY: Toronto Star sportswriter RANDY STARKMAN died yesterday at the age of 51. Starkman "took ill after returning from Montreal, where he covered Canada’s Olympic swimming trials.” He was diagnosed with pneumonia and admitted to St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto last week. He “spent several days in intensive care.” Starkman started at the Toronto Star following the ’88 Seoul Olympics. While the “higher-profile beats such as the Maple Leafs, Blue Jays and Raptors were offered to him over the years, Starkman turned them down, choosing instead to continue covering amateur athletics and the Olympics” (TORONTO STAR, 4/17).