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Volume 24 No. 115

People and Pop Culture

NFL VP/Consumer Products & Apparel TRACEY BLECZINSKI is leaving the league after 14 years to head consumer products at Las Vegas-based UFC. Bleczinski has been associated with many of the recent women's apparel initiatives from NFL licensees, including female silhouettes from the Iikes of Nike and VF’s Majestic brand, "Wellies" and other team-logoed footwear from Cuce Shoes, and pop-up "style lounges" showcasing licensed products for distaff fans outside of NFL stadia. An NFL spokesperson said the league has not yet named a replacement. A farewell gathering is planned for Tuesday at the league offices in N.Y.

NBCUniversal CEO STEVE BURKE and the changes made at the company under his watch were profiled by Marr & Stewart of the WALL STREET JOURNAL, who wrote in the two years since Comcast bought NBCU, Burke has "shown a zeal for shaking things up with little sentimentality, weeding out some of the company's most well-known personalities in the process." Burke is "the man in charge of pulling off a colossal wager." Comcast is "betting that its distribution business, combined with a content company, can create outsize benefits." That logic "runs counter to the trend of big U.S. media companies breaking themselves into smaller pieces." Burke over the past two years "has been busy scrubbing a culture of intrigue and competing fiefdoms." One "casualty of the purge" was former NBC Sports Group Chair DICK EBERSOL. A source said, "These two guys were never going to mix" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/23).

Veteran sports marketer ANN WELLS CRANDALL is joining the new Big East Conference as its first CMO. She will begin her new job Sept. 10, be based in N.Y., and report to Commissioner VAL ACKERMAN. Crandall will oversee marketing and sales for the conference, including brand development, advertising and promotion, corporate sales and sponsorship, licensing, and digital strategies. She also will oversee the conference’s relationships with FS1 and Madison Square Garden, which will host the Big East men's basketball tournament. Since January, Crandall was with Pac-12 Enterprises as Exec VP/Business Development & Strategic Partnerships. Prior to that, she was with the N.Y. Road Runners for a dozen years, last serving as Exec VP/Business Development & Strategy. Crandall also held marketing roles with the NBA, DirecTV and the Walt Disney Co. (Terry Lefton, Editor-at-Large).

EXECS: Premier Sports Management promoted CMO MIKE GOFF to President (, 8/23)....USA Water Ski named 24K PR Founder KRISTA ROGERS Dir of Marketing & Partnerships, effective Sept. 3 (USA Water Ski)....USA Today Sports Media Group named Baltimore Sun reporter CHRIS KORMAN Senior Editor (, 8/23)....The D-Backs named JOSH HOLLEY Manager of Ticket Operations (THE DAILY)....Bucknell Univ. named Southern New Hampshire Univ. Associate AD CHAD MASON Associate AD/Operations & Events (Bucknell)....James Madison Univ. named DAVE BIANCAMANO Associate AD/Fundraising & External Development and AARON EPSTEIN Assistant Dir of Development (JMU)....Babson College named KAYLA POMPONI Athletics Business & Operations Manager (Babson).

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Dodgers Chair MARK WALTER on Friday said that he "has been exploring a possible purchase" of the L.A. Times. Walter said, "The Los Angeles Times says something. It means something. It's a brand. I think people have undervalued that. If the price were right, I would buy it." Walter said that he is "interested in acquiring both the Times and the Chicago Tribune" (L.A. TIMES, 8/24).

LEGAL MATTERS: A source said that NHL Panthers minority Owner JORDAN ZIMMERMAN has "filed a lawsuit against two fellow Boca Raton businessmen to recoup a $1 million investment into a pornography website that he thought was a legitimate dating service." Zimmerman and a co-plaintiff gave MARC BELL and DAN STATON $1M apiece to "invest into" Zimmerman stated in the suit filed in Palm Beach County court that Bell and Staton "invested the money into sites they never heard of that were linked to Penthouse Magazine’s pornography empire" (, 8/23).

BIG HITTERS: Rapper PHARRELL WILLIAMS has "teamed up with Under Armour to produce the 'NATURAL BORN HITTERS' mixtape, which pairs electronic beats with motivation vocal samples" from ESPN NFL analyst RAY LEWIS. The "inspiration for the project came from 'READY FOR AUGUST,' a short film based" on Lewis' high school career. Under Armour also has "unveiled an interactive, 'Natural Born Hitters' app" (, 8/23).

ON THE MARKET: N.C. State Univ. men's basketball coach MARK GOTTFRIED bought a house in Raleigh for $1.1M (, 8/23)....Ravens QB JOE FLACCO bought a house in Baltimore from former NFLer MATT BIRK for $1.385M (, 8/23)....Former NHLer CHRIS CHELIOS "put his Malibu, Calif., house up for rent." The house "rents for $25,000 per month if you take it for a year" (DETROIT NEWS, 8/24).

NAMES: Free agent NBA C JASON COLLINS appeared on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards last night and introduced rapper MACKLEMORE, who "performed his gay-rights anthem "SAME LOVE" (, 8/25)....Boxing HOFer MIKE TYSON on Friday "spoke about his need to follow the tenets of Alcoholics Anonymous" (, 8/24)....Ravens coach JOHN HARBAUGH last Saturday brought in actor TRACY MORGAN "to perform for the team" (, 8/24)....The Rams this season will wear “a commemorative helmet decal” to honor late HOFer DEACON JONES (, 8/25)….Celtics F KELLY OLYNYK on Friday went to New Hampshire-based Canobie Lake Park with the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/26)….Former cyclist LANCE ARMSTRONG has “reached a settlement with the Sunday Times, which he sued” for US$1.2M after it published an article “suggesting he was using performance-enhancing drugs before his confession” (, 8/25)….Pro Football HOFer DAN MARINO and CBS' BILL COWHER, along with analysts MARV ALBERT and GREG GUMBEL attended an NFL season kickoff party at Bobby Van’s Grill (N.Y. POST, 8/24)….Red Sox Owner JOHN HENRY recently dined at the Rowes Wharf Sea Grille at the Boston Harbor Hotel (BOSTON HERALD, 8/25).