Incoming NBA Commissioner ADAM SILVER begins his new job Saturday, but he already has made his first major move in tapping NBA Exec VP/Global Marketing Partnerships MARK TATUM as NBA Deputy Commissioner. NBA owners must vote whether to approve Tatum’s promotion, a process that could be completed as soon as this week, according to a source. Tatum joined the NBA in '99 and has been a key exec in growing the league’s marketing partnership business. He also has played a central role in marketing USA Basketball (John Lombardo, Staff Writer). YAHOO SPORTS' Adrian Wojnarowski, who first broke the news, notes the African-American Tatum would become "one of the highest-ranking minority executives in major professional sports." Several league execs said that Tatum is "bright, capable and engaging, an executive who has spent most of the past 15 years as a revenue creator for the NBA" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/28). ESPN.com's Windhorst & Rovell report Silver's "first major project when he takes over" for DAVID STERN is to "negotiate new television deals, and Tatum is expected to be a strong partner in that process" (ESPN.com, 1/28). Tatum was a three-time selection to the SBJ/SBD "Forty Under 40." Read his entries from '06, '07 and '08.
People and Pop Culture
ESPN VP/Original Programming & Production JAMIE HOROWITZ has been "approached by NBC to take control" of "Today," and a deal "appears likely, though Horowitz still has to extract himself from his contract with ESPN," according to sources cited by Tommy Craggs of DEADSPIN. A source said ESPN President JOHN SKIPPER is "trying to coax a sizable ransom" out of NBC parent company Comcast. The source "put the chances of the deal going through at '70-30 or 65-35.'" Craggs reported it is "not clear what Horowitz's new position would be." "Today" Exec Producer DON NASH reportedly "would stay on" and Horowitz "would oversee him." Horowitz "got his start at NBC Sports, working as a researcher for the 2000 Olympics and quickly making his way into the producer's chair" before moving to ESPN in '06. Horowitz' work at ESPN includes "SportsNation," "Numbers Never Lie" and "Olbermann," and he was "the man responsible for the 2011 overhaul" of "First Take" (DEADSPIN.com, 1/27). THE BIG LEAD's Jason McIntyre reported a decision is "expected this week" on the move. Horowitz' potential departure "sent shockwaves through ESPN, where he is regarded as one of the brightest TV minds at the network" and part of Skipper's "inner circle" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 1/27).
Former MLB Properties President RICK WHITE has been named President of the Atlantic League, a 16-year-old, eight-member circuit of unaffiliated pro baseball teams with franchises mostly based in the Northeast. White, who worked at MLB’s central offices from '83-'94 and at one point was considered a candidate for MLB Commissioner, succeeds PETER KIRK. Kirk owns four teams in the league. White will be the Atlantic League’s first full-time President. White noted that the league is hoping to expand from eight to 12 teams over the next few years, with eyes on markets in the South and West. White: “Other than that, we’re looking to centralize as many of our commercial activities as makes sense, and attract young fans to the ballparks by finding new ways to integrate technology into our brand of baseball." White said his new job grew out of a consulting assignment with the league. While the Atlantic League HQs have been based in Camden, N.J., White said he will continue to reside in Denver, where he has run a licensing consultancy since '11. After leaving MLB in ‘94, White worked at Nike, where he headed subsidiary brands. He also was President & CEO of Reed Exhibitions, Phoenix Footwear and Imperial Headwear.
Canadian Olympic Committee President MARCEL AUBUT has "methodically built a formidable power base inside the Olympic establishment, long a decentralized web of sporting federations," and has both "expanded and consolidated his Olympic empire," according to a profile by LeBlanc & Gordon of the GLOBE & MAIL. Starting his "second and final four-year mandate as COC president, he has his sights set on affecting everything from coaching to anti-doping." The "big-bodied former owner" of the Nordiques, Aubut is "a relative newcomer to the Olympic movement." Although Aubut is a "consummate insider and schmoozer, he likes to portray himself as a quintessential outsider, battling long odds." He said his plans for the COC are "audacious." The COC staff will "basically double by the end of his mandate, occupying new offices in Montreal and, next on his list, Toronto." Aubut wants the COC to "showcase athletes year-round, regardless of whether it’s an Olympic year, and to beef up coaching and technical expertise across the country and in all sports." His goal is to "get even more revenues flowing, through increased merchandising sales and -- think big -- a new national sports lottery." Aubut by the end of '17 hopes to have "persuaded the federal government to match every private-sector dollar that comes into the COC." Aubut said, "When I leave, it has to be strong enough to not crumble. One of my great challenges is for this castle to not fall apart in four or five years" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/25).
ESPN's NATE SILVER appeared on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" last night, and host Stephen Colbert asked about Silver's FiveThirtyEight blog, saying, "Why FiveThirtyEight when you're going to ESPN? Is that how many ESPNs there are now, 538 of them? Why are you going to sports again?" Silver: "We love sports. It's a great way to teach people about math and statistics, but mostly it's a lot of fun and we're sports fans. Put it like this: there is a lot of coverage you see in politics that's really just gossip about a serious subject, and we want to take a fun subject and be overly serious about it at times." Colbert asked, "Can you be too serious about football in America, because what happens if we weren't holding the game this weekend? What happens if we didn't find out about which animal was going to be used to sell which beer?" Silver: "It's like reality TV for men, basically. But it's a big cultural thing." When asked if he could apply the statistical model he uses in baseball to the Super Bowl, Silver said, "The problem with this game this year is that both teams are really good." Colbert interjected and said, "What are the odds!? You're the statistician!" Silver added of the Super Bowl, "You would think it’s going to be close." Colbert asked, "Why do you want to do to football what you did to politics, which is to ruin it with accuracy? If you get as good with football as what you are with politics, then it won't be like on any given Sunday a team could win. You'll just read FiveThirtyEight and go, 'Oh, it's going to be Seattle, let's go to bed.'" Silver: "I think the world actually is a pretty unpredictable place, including in sports" ("The Colbert Report," Comedy Central, 1/27).
Octagon named IMG Artists Asia Pacific Senior VP & Managing Dir MINDY COPPIN Head of Asia Pacific Business Development & Strategic Initiatives (Octagon)....Learfield Sports named KYLE JAMES GM for its Univ. of New Mexico properties. James previously worked as Associate GM for the company's Texas Tech Univ. properties (Learfield)....Dodgers President & CEO STAN KASTEN has been appointed to the LA84 Foundation BOD (LA84)....The College of New Jersey named Vassar College AD SHARON BEVERLY AD & Assistant VP/Student Affairs (NJ.com, 1/28).
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NFL agent LEIGH STEINBERG was profiled on NBC's "Today" this morning, with NBC's Matt Lauer noting the report "takes us behind one of sports' biggest agents and his fall from grace." NBC's Andrea Canning said after dealing with his alcoholism and getting his life in order, Steinberg is "attempting a comeback" and will be "working the rooms at this year's Super Bowl in New York." Steinberg said athletes should trust him to be their agent because "I'm probably the only certifiably sober agent in sports." Canning noted there is "no official word" if Steinberg has signed any clients as of yet, "but he has a Super Bowl party this weekend and he's working the room" ("Today," NBC, 1/28).
SCREEN GRABS: Metan Development Group has "secured distribution rights for theatrical, TV and online" in China for the documentary "LINSANITY," which tells the life story of Rockets G JEREMY LIN (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 1/27)....Jazz CEO GREG MILLER will appear on CBS' "UNDERCOVER BOSS" on Feb. 28. The net said Miller will "attempt to make halftime history" as he works with the Jazz dunk team (DESERET NEWS, 1/27).
CHARITY STRIPE: The families of NFL Giants Treasurer JONATHAN TISCH, President & CEO JOHN MARA and Jets Owner WOODY JOHNSON are each donating $1M to "an independent charitable arm of the N.Y./N.J. Super Bowl Host Committee for playgrounds and youth centers in both states" (AP, 1/27)....MLB Giants 3B coach TIM FLANNERY and his band, LUNATIC FRINGE, raised $96,000 "during four nights of concerts in Northern California over the weekend" to support the recovery of BRYAN STOW, the fan injured in a beating outside Dodger Stadium in '11. Giants P JEREMY AFFELDT "contributed $25,000 to match Flannery's initial total," while former MLBer WILL CLARK "wrote a $10,000 check" (MLB.com, 1/27)....Heat players last night "took center stage" at the Fillmore Miami Beach for Battioke, a "charity/karaoke benefit for the Take Charge Foundation." The outing was organized by Heat F SHANE BATTIER and his wife, HEIDI (SOUTHFLORIDA.com, 1/27).
AWARDS & HONORS: The National Motorsports Press Association awarded Talladega Superspeedway Chair GRANT LYNCH with its Joe Littlejohn Award, "given out each year in recognition of outstanding service to NMPA" (AL.com, 1/27). The NMPA also named late Atlanta Motor Speedway PR Dir MARCY SCOTT recipient of the Ken Patterson Helping Others Award and the NMPA Spirit Award. The Patterson award is given to a representative who "exhibited the kind and generous qualities" for which Patterson was known (CHARLOTTEOBSERVER.com, 1/27).
NAMES: Chicago-based TIP Solutions has partnered with TNT NBA analyst SHAQUILLE O'NEAL on a "free Android app CallSnap, which allows users to decline calls by sending a picture, clip-art image or recorded video message in return." O'Neal also "has a stake in the company" and will promote it "online and at tech conferences" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 1/27)....Broncos CB CHAMP BAILEY is “the new voice on the trains” at Denver Int’l Airport (DENVERPOST.com, 1/25)….CLAY PELL, husband of former Olympic figure skater MICHELLE KWAN, yesterday announced his bid to become the governor of Rhode Island (AP, 1/27)….Figure skater EVAN LYSACEK “has paid $850,000 for a two-bedroom, 1,600-square-foot” condo “on the 45th floor of a high-rise building” in Chicago (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 1/27)….Culpepper's Orlando, a restaurant owned by former NFLer and UCF alum DAUNTE CULPEPPER near the campus of his alma mater, “has closed” (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 1/27)….Broncos DEs JEREMY MINCEY and MALIK JACKSON, CB KAYVON WEBSTER, DT SYLVESTER WILLIAMS and LB STEVEN JOHNSON “partied at hot spot VIP Room” on Sunday night in N.Y. (N.Y. POST, 1/28)….Actress MERYL STREEP “found herself in the front row” at Lakers-Knicks on Sunday next to rapper 50 CENT (LATIMES.com, 1/27).