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Volume 24 No. 134
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Names In The News

VARIETY’s Marc Graser reports that “two years before ROBERT IGER is set to step down as CEO of the Walt Disney Co., there’s already talk around Hollywood that the Mouse House chief may not be ready to give up the keys to the Magic Kingdom in 2015 as planned.” Disney has “not determined who will succeed him” at the end of March 2015, when he is scheduled to relinquish the CEO role after ten years in the job (VARIETY, 3/26 issue).

LEAD DOG: UConn yesterday announced that women’s basketball coach GENO AURIEMMA has “signed a new five-year contract” that will run through ’17-18. In Connecticut, Rich Elliott notes Auriemma will earn $10.86M in the deal "as the highest paid coach in the sport.” His current five-year, $8M contract “runs through” April 15. Auriemma will “receive a base salary of $400,000 for each year of the contract.” He also will receive $1.55M for “institutional speaking engagements and media related appearances” for a total of $1.95M in ’13-14. The speaking payment “will increase by $110,000 each year, except in the final year when it will increase by $120,000” (CONNECTICUT POST, 3/28).

YOUTH GROUP: ABC's Josh Elliott said Baseball HOF CAL RIPKEN JR. “has become baseball’s ambassador to children.” Ripken holds youth camps across the country and said, “I want to encourage more kids to play more baseball.” Elliott said it is a "mission he’s devoted to off the field as well, with a series of books for kids tackling the tough issues they face today.” Ripken said he “really enjoyed reading” growing up but “it was very specific to sports.” Elliott noted the book series is “fictional but draw from real life experience … growing up in a baseball family” (“GMA,” ABC, 3/27).

COURT REPORT: The AP's Dionisio Soldevila reported a court order unsealed yesterday in Santiago, Dominican Republic, requires A’s LF YOENIS CESPEDES “to pay 22 percent of the value of the contract he signed” with the team to EDGAR MERCEDES, the former agent who helped him secure the deal. Mercedes' attorney GUILLERMO ESTRELLA said that Cespedes “must pay nearly $8 million.” Cespedes' attorney CRISTIAN MARTINEZ said that he “still is reviewing the decision to see if there are any options to appeal.” Mercedes filed suit in '12, alleging that Cespedes "reneged on their contract” (AP, 3/27).

CHARITY STRIPE: MLB yesterday announced “an expansion of its efforts to help returning American veterans and their families with a new $10 million donation to Welcome Back Veterans.” Nearing the “five-year anniversary of the apolitical organization’s inception, this backing brings MLB’s total commitment” to the group to $23M (, 3/27)….Nationals CF BRYCE HARPER donated “40 Marucci wooden bats -- some new and some game-used” to the College of Southern Nevada. The school plays in the Scenic West Athletic Conference, a “wood-only league.” Some of the used bats “came from other major leaguers under contract with Marucci” (LAS VEGAS SUN, 3/27).

NAMES: Former Dodgers Owner FRANK MCCOURT’s ex-wife JAMIE “hit a home run” in court yesterday when a judge ruled she can “question" Blackstone Advisory Partners Senior Managing Dir PETER COHEN, who was "working for her husband when he allegedly undervalued the team by” more than $1.5B before their divorce (, 3/27). Cohen was “ordered to answer written questions in litigation” in the couple’s divorce settlement (N.Y. POST, 3/28)....Former Lakers coach PHIL JACKSON “has joined Twitter.” His avatar is the “photograph used as the cover of his upcoming book, 'Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success.'” Jackson had “amassed more than 23,000 followers before he sent out his first tweet” (, 3/27)….Sharks C JOE THORNTON invited “Howard Stern Show” regular ERIC LYNCH to attend his “first-ever hockey game.” Both Thornton and Sharks Media Relations Manager TOM HOLY are “longtime Stern Show” fans (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 3/28)....Rush lead singer GEDDY LEE will throw out the first pitch at the Blue Jays’ home opener against the Indians on Tuesday (CP, 3/27)....Marlins P CARLOS ZAMBRANO sold his 13-room house in River Forest, Ill., for $675,000. That is “far below” his most recent asking price of $829,000 and the $1.2M he paid for the home in ’06 (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/28).