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Volume 24 No. 137

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?
* What’s the biggest sports business story of the year?
* What’s the most powerful brand in sports?
* What’s the best sports event to attend?
* Who are the best play-by-play personalities and game analysts on TV?
* Who are the most admired sponsors?

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!

Several changes are hitting NBC's affiliate relations department, which negotiates cable carriage and retransmission consent deals. NBC is close to hiring Cablevision's top programming exec, MAC BUDILL, according to several sources. Budill had been with Cablevision for more than 20 years, rising to Exec VP/Programming. While at Cablevision, Budill was instrumental in cutting a deal with NFL Network earlier this summer. He will be given a top spot in NBC's affiliate relations department. It is not clear what his new role will be, but sources say he will report to NBCU's head of content distribution MATT BOND. Word of Budill's hiring comes as NBCUniversal's President of TV Network Distribution BRIDGET BAKER announced her plans to leave the company after 24 years. Media trade magazine Broadcasting & Cable obtained an internal memo from Bond saying that Baker will leave at the end of next month. These moves come as NBC is preparing to negotiate with some of the country's biggest distributors. NBC's deals with Dish Network, Charter and the NCTC expire at the end of the year, according to several sources. Those deals include most NBC networks, including NBC Sports Network, and several retransmission consent deals for NBC-owned broadcast stations. Neither Cablevision nor NBCU would comment for this story (John Ourand, THE DAILY).

EXECS: Twins Senior Dir of Minor Leagues JIM RANTZ yesterday “announced his retirement at the team's organizational meetings.” Rantz was “the only current Twins employee who has been with the franchise since it moved from Washington in 1961” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/16). Rantz has been in his current position since ’86 and was “the first Twins scout to lay eyes on” Baseball HOFer KIRBY PUCKETT (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 10/16)....AEG Facilities named San Diego Convention Center GM BRAD GESSNER VP/Convention Centers (AEG Facilities)….Golf Digest named ALAN PITTMAN Managing Editor. Pittman has worked at the magazine for 18 years “on several projects, including the magazine’s annual ‘Hot List’ and its monthly franchise, ‘Golf Saved My Life’” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 10/15).

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

The AP's Mesfin Fekadu reports BEYONCE will be the "halftime show performer" during Super Bowl XLVII. An official announcement is due tomorrow. The singer performed the National Anthem at Super Bowl XXXVIII in '04 (AP, 10/16).

SELLING IT OFF: The AP's Jim Litke reports ESPN college basketball analyst BOB KNIGHT will put just about everything he "amassed over more than four decades in the coaching business" on the auction block over the next two months. The items will be "offered for sale between now and Dec. 5." Knight said that he and Basketball HOFer JOHN HAVLICEK, who played together at Ohio State, "hatched the idea of funding their grandchildren's educations by cleaning out the closets and drawers in their homes" (AP, 10/16).

THE MAN BEHIND THE COACH: ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported NFL Giants coach TOM COUGHLIN held an event for his Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation on Friday in N.Y. which “grossed more than $1 million, helping families for children suffering from leukemia and cancer.” Giants QB ELI MANNING attended the event and “he was glad his new teammates could experience Tom Coughlin the man, not just the coach” (“Monday Night Countdown,” ESPN, 10/15).

UNSTOPPABLE: In Charlotte, "NASCAR on ESPN" Stage Manager ANDREA HILDERBRAND was among a few people profiled under the header “Fantastically Fit.” In addition to “being bike-crazy, she is a runner, a CrossFit enthusiast, an avid mountaineer (she summited 19,347-foot Cotopaxi in Ecuador in 2011), and a competitive shooter” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/16).

HOOPS HYPE: Lakers G KOBE BRYANT will host the United Way of Greater L.A.'s Home Walk on Nov. 19 (, 10/14)....Basketball HOFer KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR yesterday was named the California After School STEM Ambassador at a statewide education conference in San Diego (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 10/15)....Nets C BROOK LOPEZ on Sunday attended Comic Con at N.Y.’s Javits Center. Lopez “hopes to parlay” his interest in comic books “into a second career.” He said, “I want to try my hand at everything” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/16)….Heat G RAY ALLEN put his 11,093-square-foot Wellesley, Mass., home on the market for $5.2M (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/16).

NAMES: Illinois Gov. PAT QUINN named former NFLer GARY FENCIK Illinois Lottery Control Board Chair (, 10/16)….Houghton Mifflin Harcourt inked a deal with Patriots TE ROB GRONKOWSKI  and his family for “Growing Up Gronk,” a book by and about the Gronkowski family. The family “enlisted journalist JEFF SCHOBER to help with the book” (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/16)....The Duke Univ. men’s basketball team yesterday played in front of U.S. Army service members at Funk Gym on the base at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C. The team's wake-up call came at 5:45am ET and they “marched to the PT field for physical training and a two-mile run.” The team began practice “by interrupting their stretching routine to stand and applaud as the troops filed into Funk Gym” (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 10/16)....The Hilton N.Y. yesterday hosted a "cocktail and photo reception" for Republican VP candidate PAUL RYAN. Among the nearly 200 co-chairs for the event were NFL Jets Owner WOODY JOHNSON, Steelers investor DAVID TEPPER and 76ers Managing Owner JOSH HARRIS (, 10/15).