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Volume 24 No. 114

People and Pop Culture

It’s time to make your opinion known as the 8th annual SportsBusiness Journal/SportsBusiness Daily Reader Survey is underway. The survey features more than 100 questions across leagues, teams, facilities, sponsorship, media, and more.

* Who is the most influential sports executive?
* Who is the most marketable athlete?
* How can facilities improve the fan experience?
* Which team has the best uniform?
* What is the best sports website?
* Who are the most effective team owners?
* Which teams would you want to work for?

Those are some of the questions you'll find in this year’s survey. Cast your votes and then see highlights of the results the week of Nov. 26. We want to hear from you.

Vote now!

NYRR President & CEO MARY WITTENBERG yesterday was profiled in a 5,150-word sports section cover story by Macur & Belson of the N.Y. TIMES. Macur & Belson wrote NYRR has experienced “extraordinary growth in nearly every category” since Wittenberg took over in ’05, “a global leader in promoting the sport.” Wittenberg has “risen to the top of the sports world with it.” She has become “the face of road running in the United States and is one of the most influential women in sports worldwide, traveling the globe to attend events and court elite runners for Road Runners races.” The organization’s staff under Wittenberg has “sprouted to about 150 from 60, and its revenue has more than doubled.” But some local runners say that Wittenberg’s “expanding ambitions have eroded the ethos of Road Runners to serve athletes in New York,” adding that she has “destroyed the intimacy of what started as a modest grass-roots club for like-minded runners.” 

RUNNING A BUSINESS: Macur & Belson wrote, “In what seems to be a double-edged victory, more runners than ever are registering for Road Runners races, but some races sell out or are as crowded as the Coney Island boardwalk on a summer day.” Rising entry fees have “priced out lower-income runners and alienated some longtime Road Runners members.” Wittenberg said, “We’re not sorry we’re successful. To our critics, we say, we want you to come along.” Warren Street Social and Athletic Club head RICK PASCARELLA said, “If I were a corporation trying to make money, I would give her kudos. If I was a running organization trying to promote running as a sport, not physical fitness, I would give her bad marks.” Marine Corps Marathon Race Dir RICK NEALIS said, “Mary is running the Road Runners like a business and turned everything upside down. But is she just raising the price because she can? ... I guess you could say it’s ethical until the runners stop coming. You keep raising the price until you find a breaking point, but I don’t think that’s what we should be doing to the sport. If Mary was able to promote the sport with TV money or better sponsorships, that’s one thing, but I don’t think they need to do that on the backs of our runners.” Former Boston Marathon Exec Dir GUY MORSE said, “She’s very good at bringing up new ideas, sometimes ones that aren’t feasible or ones that we’re not ready for yet."

MANAGING TO PERFECTION: Macur & Belson noted Wittenberg’s “seemingly round-the-clock efforts have called attention to her management style.” Her “perfectionism, no matter how well-intentioned, can wear on employees.” Phone calls, e-mails and other correspondence “can go days without being answered, and meetings designed to solicit opinions often end with Wittenberg’s leaving and making her own decisions later, according to several former employees.” Part of the problem is that Wittenberg "tries to do it all and there is no chief operating officer who can make executive decisions in her absence, but instead a coterie of executives with different responsibilities.” NYRR General Counsel BOB LAUFER said that a COO was “unnecessary because managers were empowered to make key decisions.” Laufer: “I suppose there are things that she doesn’t need to look at this or that. But everything that comes out from the Road Runners, she feels she wants to be the final word on it" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/14).

Nike named Honeywell Senior VP/Global Government Relations SEAN O’HOLLAREN as head of its global government affairs operation. The move comes as Nike “has made significant changes in its government relations operation,” bringing on Dir of Government Affairs JENNIFER BENDALL in ’11, and, over the summer, the addition of Democratic lobbyist JESSE MCCOLLUM. According to Senate lobbying files, Nike “has spent $200,000 on lobbying during the first half" of '12 and has law firm Sidley Austin on retainer (, 10/12).

EXECS: The SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Christopher Botta reports MLS Sporting KC “recently promoted” VP/Sales JAKE REID to Chief Revenue Officer. Last week, Reid brought on Hornets Regional Business Development Manager JAMIE GUIN as VP/Corporate Partnerships. Reid “will work with Guin to hire at least three more corporate sales staffers by the end of October” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/15 issue)….High Point Univ. named Florida Int’l Univ. Assistant Dir of Compliance & Eligibility LYNN NEWSON Dir of Compliance (High Point)….The Thunder named former NBAer MIKE WILKS Pro Scout and Proskauer Rose attorney AMANDA GREEN Basketball Operations Coordinator/Legal & Administration. The club also promoted Dir of Minor League Operations & Basketball Technology PAUL RIVERS to Dir of Basketball Operations, Scouting Coordinator WILL DAWKINS to Dir of College Player Personnel and Dir of Minor League Scouting & Manager of Minor League Operations BRANDON BARNETT to Dir of Minor League Operations & Pro Scout (Thunder).

Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to

In Chicago, Mitch Smith reports Bears Principal Owner VIRGINIA MCCASKEY and her son, Bears Senior Dir of Special Projects PATRICK MCCASKEY, yesterday at the team's Lake Forest, Ill., practice facility “hosted religious leaders and politicians” for the Reclaiming Religious Liberty Leadership Summit. Speakers at the event “lamented the ‘eroding freedom to speak in the language of faith in the public square.’” Virginia and Patrick McCaskey have been “high-profile opponents” of a federal government mandate that some religious institutions offer health insurance policies that cover their employees' contraceptives. But Patrick McCaskey said it would be "unfair to say the Bears, as an organization, agree" with everything that was said at the meeting. Virginia McCaskey said it would be "inappropriate" for the team to take an official stand on the mandate (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/15).

FATHERS & SONS: During last night's Packers-Texans "SNF" telecast, NBC's AL MICHAELS and CRIS COLLINSWORTH discussed the recent passing of Collinsworth's father. Michaels: "Cris, this has been a fantastic performance for you under circumstances that are very different. Your dad, ABRAHAM passing away over the weekend, and we just want to wish you, and your mom and the entire Collinsworth family the very best with our prayers. And you are some trooper, I gotta tell you, to even be here, period. We're thinking about you, buddy." Collinsworth: "My hero, man. He was something special...passed away early in the morning on Saturday morning...was able to be there with him. Former national champion of the UK Wildcats, played basketball for ADOLPH RUPP. Was the principal of my high school, and I used to tell him I loved reading about him on the bathroom walls. And he'd get a laugh out of it. Was self-deprecating with his humor ... always was. He was the mayor. Everywhere he went he was loved" ("Sunday Night Football," NBC, 10/14).

NAMES: A seven-foot statue outside First Niagara Center of the “French Connection” line featuring former Sabres GILBERT PERREAULTRICK MARTIN and RENE ROBERT was “unveiled Friday night as part of the Sabres’ newly christened Alumni Plaza to honor the team’s past.” The Sabres “hosted a dinner for friends, alumni and sponsors to celebrate the unveiling.” The statue was “completed by JERRY MCKENNA of Boerne, Texas, who is most known for doing 17 busts at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio” (BUFFALO NEWS, 10/13)....Big East Senior Associate Commissioner NICK CARPARELLI on Saturday attended San Diego State Univ.'s home game against Colorado State Univ. This weekend marked Carparelli's "first-ever trip to SDSU’s campus," as the school is set to join the Big East in '13 as a football-only member (SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE, 10/13)....ESPN college basketball analyst BOB KNIGHT in March will release a book titled "The Power of Negative Thinking.” Written with BOB HAMMEL, the book is “an antidote to thoughtless optimism and wishful thinking" (, 10/15).

IN MEMORY: LPGA Tour rules official DOUG BRECHT died on Friday after “battling West Nile virus for the last two months.” Brecht began working for the LPGA in July ’90 (, 10/13)….More than “300 family members, friends and fans” attended the funeral service for late Red Wings PA announcer BUDD LYNCH on Saturday at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Detroit. Former NHLer GORDIE HOWE and Red Wings Owner MARIAN ILITCH were in attendance. Red Wings GM KEN HOLLAND said, “He was an incredible ambassador for our team” (DETROIT NEWS, 10/14).