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Volume 24 No. 117

People and Pop Culture

NBC Sports yesterday named ERIC GRILLY the new president of Alli Sports, the media group's action sports division. Grilly, who was introduced to Alli Sports staff in Chicago, will oversee the Dew Tour and NBC's partnerships with the Red Bull Signature Series and Lucas Oil AMA Motocross series. He replaces WADE MARTIN, who is leaving to join Powdr Corp. Grilly most recently served as Exec VP & Chief Digital Officer for NBC Sports Regional Networks, formerly known as Comcast SportsNet. NBC Sports Ventures Senior VP ROB SIMMELKJAER, who oversees Alli Sports, said Grilly was tapped for the position because of his proven ability to manage other businesses and his knowledge of digital media. Simmelkjaer wants to become the online destination for action and adventure sports. He added, "We wanted someone who had a proven track record of running a proven business successfully. When I looked at what (Eric had) done in every position he'd been in, I saw a proven track record of a guy who grows businesses and knows how to grow audiences. He had the skills to take over this next phase of the Alli business." In addition to enhancing Alli Sports digital offering, Simmelkjaer said he expects Grilly to continue to add more properties to the divisions portfolio and explore the creation of international Dew Tour events.

INEXPERIENCE NOT AN ISSUE: Simmlekjaer said that Grilly's inexperience in the world of action sports would not be an issue. Simmelkjaer: "We certainly talked about it, but when you look at Wade, he came into that space without that background as a snowboarder or skateboarder. He brought to the table great insight as a business person and an ability to work with brands. Eric brings that exact same skill set to the table. The action sports side, knowing the athletes and the sports, will certainly come with time. We have a staff at Alli who's well versed in this stuff from (Chief Creative Officer) CHRIS MILLER to (VP) CHRIS PRYBYLO to (Dew Tour GM) KENNY MITCHELL." Grilly is in the process of relocating from Philadelphia to Chicago.

IndyCar named Indianapolis Motor Speedway Productions President & COO ROBBY GREENE COO. Greene will “serve in a dual capacity until a more permanent day-to-day leader is found for the sanctioning body of the sport.” IMS VP/Communications DOUG BOLES will become COO, allowing IMS President & CEO JEFF BELSKUS “to focus on broader issues” with new Hulman & Co. CEO MARK MILES. IMS Senior VP/Operations MEL HARDER will “move to a new role" overseeing MotoGP Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix at IMS (, 1/14).

EXECS: The Colts named Chargers Player Personnel Dir JIMMY RAYE VP/Football Operations (, 1/14). Raye will be top assistant to Colts GM RYAN GRIGSON, a position held last year by new Chargers GM TOM TELESCO (, 1/14)….The Triple-A Int’l League Charlotte Knights named SEAN OWENS Ticket Sales & Hospitality Dir, MARGIE BURLESON Special Events/Sales Exec, MARK KRIZANIK Account Exec and AUDREY STANEK Sponsorship Services Manager (Knights)….Eastern Tennessee State Univ. AD DAVE MULLINS will officially retire on June 30. He will become a special assistant to the president for athletics, a position which will focus on fundraising and facility development. VCU AD RICHARD SANDER will serve as ETSU Interim AD (ETSU)….Penn State Univ.-Abington named St. Mary’s College of Maryland Assistant AD SHAWNE MCCOY Athletic Recreation Dir (PSU-Abington)….The ’14 Special Olympics USA Games named RACHEL GARY Communications Dir (Special Olympics)….The Sarasota Herald Tribune named Lakeland Ledger Preps Editor SOLANGE REYNER Deputy Sports Editor (THE DAILY).

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The Nebraska athletic department will throw former AD and football coach TOM OSBORNE a "going-away bash" on March 9 at CenturyLink Center in Omaha. The event will be emceed by ESPN's CHRIS FOWLER and "have a 'SportsCenter' feel, with a sideline reporter also interviewing celebrities in the crowd." Former Oklahoma coach BARRY SWITZER, Wisconsin AD BARRY ALVAREZ and Kansas State coach BILL SNYDER are among those to "have committed to attend." Tables of 10 seats are "being sold for $10,000, $5,000 and $2,500." Proceeds from the event will "go toward Osborne's 'Teammates' foundation and the new Research Facility that is being build in the east stadium expansion of Memorial Stadium" (OMAHA WORLD-HERALD, 1/14).

AWARDS & HONORS: Former Maple Leafs President & GM BRIAN BURKE last weekend was honored with the Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service, the "highest award for civilians." Burke was recognized for his support of the troops and spearheading the inaugural CF appreciation hockey tournament (TORONTO STAR, 1/14)....Former James Madison Univ. AD DEAN EHLERS was among seven people announced as the Class of '13 for the Virginia Sports HOF. Ehlers was AD at JMU for 22 years (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 1/15)....MMA Fighting’s ARIEL HELWANI won the MMA Journalist of the Year Award for the third straight year at the World MMA Awards on Jan. 11 (THE DAILY)....Devils President, CEO & GM LOU LAMORIELLO was honored in the Legendary Leadership section of the NJBIZ 25th anniversary edition. Prudential Center was honored in the publication’s Best Projects section (THE DAILY).

WE ARE WILDCATS: Platte River Equity Founder & Managing Dir J. LANDIS MARTIN and his wife SHARON have "committed $15 million to the Northwestern University campaign for athletics and recreation." The school will "name the soccer and lacrosse stadium for them." The stadium, which will "undergo renovations, will be part of a new lakeside athletics complex" (, 1/14).

NAMES: FIFA President SEPP BLATTER has "revealed he intends to become a football pundit when he steps down" in '15. In an interview on Sky Sports News, Blatter said that a "role in the media would be fulfilling a childhood dream." Blatter: "I would comment on the games but I would not say 'now he passes right or left' because everybody can see that on TV, but I would make my comments on tactics or techniques" (, 1/14)....Autopsy results released yesterday showed that late Chiefs LB JOVAN BELCHER was “legally drunk when he killed his girlfriend,” then committed suicide. The results showed that Belcher’s blood-alcohol level “was .17 when he died, about five hours after” the crime. That alcohol level is “more than twice the legal driving limit” (K.C. STAR, 1/15)….An aide for Sen. JOHN KERRY (D-Mass.) said that the senator “personally paid what the team determined to be fair market value -- $191 each -- for a pair of suite tickets” to Sunday’s Patriots-Texans game (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/15)….Pacers F TYLER HANSBROUGH and CBS’ CLARK KELLOGG yesterday were “among a group from the Pacers to get an up-close visit to Hendrick Motorsports,” with a tour given by DALE EARNHARDT JR.’s crew chief, STEVE LETARTE (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/15)….Gold Medal-winning U.S. gymnasts ALY RAISMAN and GABBY DOUGLAS attended Sunday’s Golden Globes in L.A. (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/15)….Yankees 3B ALEX RODRIGUEZ has “pulled his stunning $38 million Miami home off the market” (N.Y. POST, 1/15)….NFL Jets Owner WOODY JOHNSON’s ex-wife SALE JOHNSON and her new husband, former NFLer and sportscaster AHMAD RASHAD’s marriage is reportedly “on the rocks -- fighting over her immense $100 million wealth and his friendship" with TIGER WOODS as well as MICHAEL JORDAN (N.Y. POST, 1/15).