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Volume 24 No. 115

People and Pop Culture

Omnicom is "merging GMR Marketing and SportsMark to form a single agency with expertise in strategic consulting and hospitality services,” according to Tripp Mickle of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The agency will “go by the GMR Marketing name and be headquartered in Milwaukee but have more than 850 full-time employees.” SportsMark Founder and The Radiate Group Exec VP JAN KATZOFF will "oversee the merger and work out of its San Francisco offices." The new firm’s senior leadership -- consisting of Exec VP/Sports Marketing MIKE BOYKIN and Exec VP/Client Management GREG BUSCH, and SportsMark CEO STEVE SKUBIC and President KEITH BRUCE -- will report to GMR CEO GARY REYNOLDS. A new senior leadership structure "is being developed and their titles and responsibilities may change." The move was “encouraged by Omnicom’s executives and agreed to late last year." It also "represented a chance for the agencies to work together to win business rather than compete against each other.” Katzoff “described a post-merger agency with hubs in London, Brazil, Russia and Milwaukee that could develop work in one market and pass it along to the other in the same way GMR’s Madrid office did when it worked with BBVA on its NBA sponsorship.” He said that the merger “wouldn’t trigger any layoffs," and that he “expects to add staff in the coming months” (, 1/28).

The Seahawks named Browns VP/Football Administration MATT THOMAS to the same position. Thomas replaces JOHN IDZIK, who recently became NFL Jets GM (Seahawks)....The Indians promoted ANDREW MILLER to Senior VP/Strategy & Business Analytics (Indians)....The Orioles named KENT QUALLS Minor League Operations Dir. The team promoted Minor League Instruction Coordinator BRIAN GRAHAM to Player Development Dir and JOHN STOCKSTILL to Player Personnel Dir (Orioles)....Loyola Univ. Chicago named Northwestern Univ. Assistant Dean of Students BETSI BURNS Associate AD & Assistant Dean of Academic Services (Loyola)....Southern Wesleyan Univ. named Wofford College Assistant Athletic Media Relations Dir KEVIN YOUNG Sports Information Dir (SWU).

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In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck wrote under the header, “Modell Deserves To Go Into Hall Of Fame During Ravens’ Super Week.” The legacy of former Ravens Owner ART MODELL, who died in '12, as "one of the NFL's most visionary owners is unquestioned, and no one can look at the amazing popularity and profitability of the sport and deny that Modell's fingerprints are all over it.” Schmuck: “So, here's hoping that when Hall of Fame voters fill out their ballots next Saturday in New Orleans, enough of them put a check next to Modell's name to finally allow him -- at least in spirit -- to return to Ohio in triumph instead of ignominy” (Baltimore SUN, 1/26). Meanwhile, in Cleveland, Bill Livingston wrote under the header, “Art Modell And The Hall Of Fame: His Death Should Not Change The Fact He Doesn’t Deserve It.” The best chance for Modell to be inducted into the HOF was “always going to be after he died, when passions had quieted.” But a “triumph enabled by death and marred by years of financial trouble, mediocre play and betrayed loyalty will always be a diminished one” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/26).

OF BRACKETS & YELLOW JACKETS: Georgia Tech AD MIKE BOBINSKI will officially begin on April 1, and said that “one of several reasons for the 2 1/2-month delay between getting hired and getting started” is his role as NCAA D-I Men’s Basketball Committee Chair. In the “final year of a five-year term, he was selected by his nine fellow members to lead the group.” Bobinski describes it as “another full-time job” through Selection Sunday. He “runs the meetings, sets the agendas and serves as the committee’s spokesman.” He will leave the committee “when he starts work at Tech because of an NCAA rule that limits the group to one member per conference.” Bobinski: “It’s been one of the great professional moments in my career, in all honesty" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 1/26).

TWEET THE METS: Mets VP/Media Relations JAY HORWITZ on Friday joined Twitter, and the team later that day via its official Twitter feed announced that Mets COO JEFF WILPON challenged Horwitz to get to 10,000 followers by midnight ET. The tweet read in part, "If successful he’ll make a donation to a charity of Jay’s choice.” Mets fans, current and former players, sports media members and more “helped Horowitz reach his goal” by 11:30pm (, 1/25).

AWARDS & RECOGNITION: The Louisiana Sports Writers Association named Hornets and Saints Owner TOM BENSON the '12 Headliner of the Year “for his efforts in saving the Hornets, re-developing the area around the Superdome and backing the NFL in its Bountygate investigation.” Benson “edged” New Orleans native and Giants QB ELI MANNING (, 1/27)....Former NBAer SHAQUILLE O’NEAL “highlights the 2013 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame induction class.” Among those joining O’Neal is former NFLer KEVIN MAWAE (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 1/27)….Former NFLer HINES WARD will receive the Dapper Dan Lifetime Achievement Award at the 77th Annual Dapper Dan Dinner & Sports Auction on Feb. 6 (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 1/27).

AUCTION BLOCK: Gold Medal-winning U.S. hockey player MIKE ERUZIONE is parting with his “iconic No. 21 USA jersey, hockey stick and other Olympic paraphernalia.” Dallas-based Heritage Auctions is selling the items in N.Y. on Feb. 23 to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the U.S. team’s 1980 Gold Medal (AP, 1/25)....Univ. of Wisconsin Medical School Associate Dean of Students PAT MCBRIDE is auctioning off game-worn jerseys from Basketball HOFers LEW ALCINDOR and OSCAR ROBERTSON, and former NBAer SAM WILLIAMS (, 1/26).

NAMES: Shaquille O'Neal will be a speaker at the '13 SXSW festival as part of an interview session with Altimeter Group analyst BRIAN SOLIS. The session is titled “Shaq Goes Social: The Big Interview” (, 1/25)….Tigers P JUSTIN VERLANDER on Friday at the North American Int'l Auto Show in Detroit “exited a Falcon F7 after taking part in a parade” around the show floor (, 1/26)….A Nassau County official said a $103.5M loan taken out by the 618-room Long Island Marriott & Conference Center -- owned by Islanders Owner CHARLES WANG -- has been “turned over to a Texas-based company that services debt on distressed properties” (NEWSDAY, 1/26)….Work was recently completed on the $20M Brentwood, Calif. home of Patriots QB TOM BRADY and model GISELE BUNDCHEN (, 1/26)….NBA Kings co-Owner GAVIN MALOOF “upped the price on his Las Vegas mansion last week” by 60%. The estate was listed for $7.5M on Nov. 1 but jumped to $12M last Wednesday (, 1/28).