Nearly 50 U.S. soccer stars yesterday traveled to the Newtown Youth Academy Sports & Fitness Center in Connecticut to spend time with the children and parents affected by last month's tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and the event "was a grand success," according to Jeff Jacobs of the HARTFORD COURANT. The players signed autographs for "more than 1,000 Newtown kids and their families over two sessions." ESPN's "Outside The Lines" host BOB LEY was the master of ceremonies for an event that was "one of the greatest collections of American soccer players ever assembled in one place." The idea "started" with MLS Dynamo President CHRIS CANETTI and initially the plan was "to hold a clinic." He called up "a number of his Dynamo players about coming to Newtown." Canetti: "They all said the same thing. Yes, yes, yes." After looking into it more, Canetti and others "realized a clinic was not going to impact enough people." Canetti said, "Word kind of trickled out on social media that it was happening. One thing led to another that led to another. ALEXI LALAS called me, MIA HAMM, KRISTINE LILLY, they said they wanted to help. We said come on down" (HARTFORD COURANT, 1/8). USA TODAY's Kelly Whiteside noted the line for Hamm's autograph "stretched the longest, from sideline to sideline, even though she hasn't played since retiring after the 2004 Olympics." Hamm "put her arms around hundreds of small shoulders." She said, "I think we're just trying to put some smiles on some kids' faces" (USATODAY.com, 1/7).
CHARITY STRIPE: UConn's Sandy Hook School Memorial Scholarship Fund received a gift of $80,120 from the Orange Bowl Committee last night. The donation “represents $1 for every fan in attendance” at last night’s BCS Championship game. Donations and pledges “totaling more than $720,000” had already been made to the fund (STAMFORD ADVOCATE, 1/8).
Fox Sports Net has picked FRANCOIS MCGILLICUDDY to run its Cleveland-based RSN, FS Ohio, and manage the transition of the recently purchased SportsTime Ohio. As part of the move, JIM LIBERATORE is leaving the net. Liberatore had been SportsTime Ohio President since its '06 launch. Fox closed its acquisition of STO the last week of '12 for around $235M. McGillicuddy comes to FS Ohio from Speed, where he has worked as VP/Finance & Business Operations since '06. In his new role as FS Ohio Senior VP & GM, McGillicuddy will report to FSN Exec VP JEFF KROLIK (John Ourand, THE DAILY)....Root Sports Rocky Mountain GM & Senior VP TIM GRIGGS “left his position” with the net on Friday (DENVER POST, 1/8).
CREATING CONTENT: Hollywood production company BermanBraun named NFL Digital Media GM JEFF BERMAN President (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 1/7). Berman was in charge of the NFL's "Web, mobile, social and non-console gaming efforts." He also "worked on several new initiatives, such as its multi-party video chat for Fantasy Football." Several years before that, Berman "was a top exec at social networking site Myspace." Berman: “I had a great job, since there is nothing bigger than the NFL. But LLOYD [BRAUN] and GAIL [BERMAN] have an incredible vision across platforms for entertainment” (ALLTHINGSD.com, 1/7).
SUCCESSOR: Upper Deck named JASON MASHERAH President following the death of co-Founder & Chair RICHARD MCWILLIAM (Upper Deck). McWilliam passed away Saturday at his Rancho Mirage, Calif., home (AP, 1/7).
EXECS: FanVision named TASSO KOKEN CEO. Koken previously served as Best Buy Senior VP/International Merchandising & Global Sourcing, GNC Exec VP/Global Merchandising and The Wiz Exec VP/Marketing, Merchandising & Operations (FanVision)….Tupelo-Honey Raycom named JENNIFER GREECHAN Exec Producer of all live sports programming (Raycom)….MARK EVERSON retired as the N.Y. Post’s hockey beat writer (N.Y. POST, 1/6)….The Rays promoted pro scout CARLOS RODRIGUEZ to Latin America Scouting Dir and hired BOBBY HECK as special-assignment scout, CHUCK RICCI as national crosschecker and MIKE BROWN and KEVIN IBACH as pro scouts (MLB.com, 1/7)….Jacksonville Univ. named Bradley Univ. Assistant AD/External Operations ROB BOGARDUS Associate AD/External Operations (Jacksonville)….Texas A&M-Commerce named RYAN IVEY AD. Ivey had been part of the McNeese State athletic department since ’07 (Texas A&M-Commerce).
USA TODAY’s Rachel George reports a third college football national title in four years “means an additional bonus” for Alabama coach NICK SABAN. Saban “earned an additional $200,000” for his team’s win over Notre Dame last night. Combined with bonuses for winning the SEC Championship and qualifying for a BCS game, Saban’s “total reaches $525,000.” His contract also “includes bonuses for academic performance and coach of the year awards, which have not yet been decided” (USATODAY.com, 1/8).
BCS LOVE: ESPN’s DICK VITALE and former TV host REGIS PHILBIN before the BCS National Championship game “embraced backstage as a pep rally rolled on at Bayfront Park in Miami” (USA TODAY, 1/8)….ESPN's JON GRUDEN attended WWE’s “Monday Night Raw” event in Tampa last night (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 1/7)….Three auto assembly plants in Alabama operated by Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Hyundai closed down last night to allow employees to watch the BCS National Championship game. Plant representatives were “quick to point out that they made up the work on another day” (AL.com, 1/7).
NAMES: Int'l Sports Agency has signed North Carolina RB GIOVANI BERNARD for representation. Bernard will be represented by ISA NFL agent BARDIA GHAHREMANI (Liz Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal)....Vail Resorts Chair & CEO ROB KATZ rang the NYSE opening bell yesterday (VAIL DAILY, 1/8)….After a fire broke out at a boutique hotel in the ski town of Courchevel, France, about thirty guests of Nets Owner MIKHAIL PROKHOROV where among 150 hotel guests who “had to be temporarily evacuated” (N.Y. POST, 1/8)….Heat F MIKE MILLER sold his Pompano Beach, Fla. home for “about $2 million below its previous purchase price.” The house was “originally listed at nearly $8 million” (BIZJOURNALS.com, 1/7)….Former soccer player RONALDO, owner of marketing agency 9ine, is to "begin working closely with SIR MARTIN SORRELL within the coming months, taking a job placement alongside the chief executive of WPP, the world’s largest advertising group by revenues" (FT.com, 1/7)….Colts offensive coordinator BRUCE ARIANS last night was discharged from the Univ. of Maryland Shock Trauma Center. It is “believed he is dealing with an inner-ear infection” (INDYSTAR.com, 1/7)….Dr. JAMES ANDREWS’ new book, “Any Given Monday: Sports Injuries And How To Prevent Them, For Athletes, Parents And Coaches -- Based On My Life In Sports Medicine,” hits shelves today (TULSA WORLD, 1/8)….Salt River Project’s BOD yesterday gave final approval to donate $1M in cash and services to the nonprofit group helping produce the '15 Super Bowl in Glendale (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/8).