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Volume 24 No. 137

People and Pop Culture

AEG President & CEO DAN BECKERMAN was promoted to his position two weeks ago after “years crunching numbers and securing financing for AEG's many properties,” according to Helene Elliott of the L.A. TIMES. His predecessor, TIM LEIWEKE, had “recruited Beckerman" away from his job as Clippers VP/Finance and "mentored Beckerman through the thicket of corporate life.” But while Leiweke was “highly visible,” Beckerman has a “quiet style that makes it likely he will stay in the background when he can.” Still, that “won't make Beckerman any less effective than Leiweke -- a softer voice but potentially no less persuasive as he hits stride in his new role.” Beckerman on Saturday in his first public comments since his promotion “declined to discuss the status of the company's pursuit of an NFL team.” However, he “reaffirmed AEG's commitment to the Kings and Galaxy, saying that fans who wonder how the changes will affect the teams they love should know ‘they're the teams I love.’” Beckerman “has gone from a behind-the-scenes supporting role to becoming a principal player on the local sports scene.” Beckerman said, "You say people don't know me. I've always been there." Elliott wrote Beckerman spoke “softly but firmly, which may come to define how he operates as a leader” (L.A. TIMES, 3/24).

Former ABC Sports Senior VP/Programming LOREN MATTHEWS, “one of the key executives to ESPN’s growth into a major media outlet,” died Friday at age 65. The cause of death was not announced. Matthews joined the net in ’80 and was “instrumental in ESPN acquiring much of its current programming, especially” MLB (, 3/23). ESPN Exec VP/Programming & Acquisitions JOHN WILDHACK said, “Loren’s programming expertise was second to none. Equally important was the high degree of integrity, passion and loyalty Loren displayed throughout his career” (ESPN). Tributes to Matthews spread across Twitter. CBS Sports’ Tim Brando wrote, “Prayers to the family Loren Matthews. His wife SHARON, and his sons. All of whom made him so proud. Loren was as kind as he was powerful in TV.” Author James Andrew Miller noted, “A brick in the Bristol foundation is now missing. … Helped create new era of sports programming, along w/Bristol's cultural DNA.” ESPN Senior VP/Corporate Communications Chris LaPlaca wrote, “Great exec, better person. Took me under his wing in early days. We all owe him.” Michigan State AD Mark Hollis: “Thoughts & prayers to the family & friends of Loren Matthews. A pioneer in cable sports and friend to many in college & pro sports.” Univ. of Cincinnati President Santa Ono wrote, “Loren Matthews formerly of ABC Sports, NY Mets & instrumental in the success and growth of ESPN as its SVP has died. He had a huge heart RIP.”

TRACK EXEC PASSES AWAY: Sonoma Raceway VP/Marketing & Communications JOHN CARDINALE died at age 47 on Thursday at his home after a two-year battle with gastric cancer. Track President & GM STEVE PAGE in a statement said, "There is a hole in the heart of this organization. John Cardinale was as true a friend, as loyal a colleague, as devoted a husband and father and as fine a human being as you could ever hope to know. John has been a part of every good thing that has happened at this track over the last 15 years. We are all so fortunate to have had him in our lives and to have shared in his intelligence, his wit, his integrity and his brave spirit" (THE DAILY). In Utah, Tom Zulewski wrote Cardinale was “the man in charge who made sure race newbies like myself had everything they needed, from where to sit in the media center to knowledge behind what goes into events like a NASCAR race.” Zulewski: “Race media, drivers, and PR types everywhere are mourning a big loss” (, 3/21). NHRA driver and team Owner JOHN FORCE said Cardinale was “one of the best PR people on the NHRA tour.” A memorial fund "has been set up on behalf of his family." Donations may be sent to the John Cardinale Memorial Fund, care of Sonoma Raceway, 29355 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476 (, 3/22).

In this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, Terry Lefton reports Visit Florida named former MLS exec and ISC CMO PAUL PHIPPS CMO. Phipps will be "armed with a budget" that was $54M last year, and "could grow to as much as" $75M this year at the state-owned tourism agency (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/25 issue).

EXECS: Fox Sports Media Group promoted VP/Business & Legal Affairs KAI DHALIWAL to Senior VP/Business & Legal Affairs (Fox)....The Univ. of Tulsa named Eastern Michigan Univ. AD DERRICK GRAGG VP & AD (Tulsa)....Northwest Missouri State Univ. named MEL TJEERDSMA AD. Tjeerdsma previously served as the school's football coach from '94-'10. He will begn his new duties in mid-April (NWMSU)....Centre College named Eastern Univ. AD BRAD FIELDS to the same position (Centre).

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In Chicago, Bill Zwecker notes wedding invitations received by friends of Bobcats Owner MICHAEL JORDAN and his fiancé, YVETTE PRIETO, "included an instruction card telling guests not to share any details, plus a request not to talk to the press -- or family members or friends, who just might blab to the media." Guests for the April 27 wedding in Palm Beach, Fla., also were "told to leave at home all cameras and cellphones." Jordan "required his bride-to-be to sign a prenuptial agreement -- said to carefully protect" Jordan's estimated $650M fortune. Should they divorce, Prieto reportedly will receive $1M for "every year they stayed married, and if the marriage lasts 10 years, that payout will jump" to $5M for every year they stayed together (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/25).

STOP THE VIOLENCE: Pro Football HOFers ROGER STAUBACH and EMMITT SMITH on Saturday spoke to a crowd at a Dallas Men Against Abuse event. Cowboys WR DEZ BRYANT "made a surprise appearance" and "apologized for his role in a domestic altercation" with his mom in July (, 3/23). Cowboys CB BRANDON CARR also was at the event. The rally was "called by Dallas Mayor MIKE RAWLINGS," who "pulled several thousand people, mostly black men, together to stand outdoors on a cold, damp morning and listen to speakers talk about how to reduce domestic violence" (, 3/23).

EQUAL RIGHTS: Browns LB SCOTT FUJITA on the front page of yesterday’s N.Y. TIMES sports section used his personal history to explain why he supports gay marriage equality and why sports figures should speak out on social issues, as the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments tomorrow about California’s Proposition 8 (N.Y. TIMES, 3/24). Meanwhile, Ravens LB BRENDAN AYANBADEJO debated on CBS’ “Face the Nation” yesterday in support of same-sex marriage (, 3/24).

NAMES: Reds 3B coach MARK BERRY told the team yesterday morning that he has been "diagnosed with cancer, but expressed optimism that he will beat it." The cancer is "on his tonsil and two lymph nodes on the left side of his neck" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 3/25)....Magic G JAMEER NELSON was named the '12-13 Rich and Helen Devos Community Enrichment Award winner at the 23rd annual Orlando Magic Youth Foundation Black Tie & Tennies Gala (, 3/23)....Longtime basketball trainer TIM GROVER has a new book, entitled "Relentless," with co-author SHARI WENK, coming out this month (, 3/22)....Former Univ. of Texas women’s track & field coach BEV KEARNEY, who recently filed race- and gender-based discrimination suits with the EEOC against the school, said she was "subjected to a severly hostile work environment." She also said that she was "forced to resign due to an 'unwritten policy' routinely violated by other university staffers." The EEOC "has 180 days to investigate the claim before Kearney can file a lawsuit." Kearney claimed Texas women's AD CHRIS PLONSKY was "consistently verbally abusive" toward her (, 3/23)....Baseball HOFer CAL RIPKEN JR., former NFLer JOE EHRMANN and former NHLer SHELDON KENNEDY last week "spoke to the heads" of Pop Warner, USA Swimming, the Boys & Girls Club and 50 other youth organizations at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in Alexandria, Va. The two-day event was hosted in part by the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation (WASHINGTON POST, 3/24).

IN MEMORY: Former NBAer RAY WILLIAMS died from colon cancer on Friday at the age of 58 (N.Y. TIMES, 3/25)….Publisher JOE WEIDER died of heart failure on Saturday in L.A. at the age of 93. Weider “founded many of the world’s most popular bodybuilding magazines,” including Muscle & Fitness, Flex, Men’s Fitness and Shape (N.Y. TIMES, 3/25)….Former NFLer HARLON HILL, whose name is on the NCAA D-II player of the year trophy, died at the age of 80 (, 3/21).