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Volume 24 No. 217

People and Pop Culture

IMG Sports & Entertainment President GEORGE PYNE is leaving the company to start his own sports and entertainment business. Pyne has hired Allen & Co. to assist in raising $500M to fund a limited liability company that will acquire sports, entertainment, media and lifestyle businesses. The investment bank is in the early phases of fundraising, and it is unclear when Pyne’s new venture will launch. Pyne will remain a senior advisor to the company and a shareholder in WME-IMG. “I have no plans to compete with IMG,” Pyne said. “I love the company, and I really like Ari and Patrick. I look forward to working with them for years to come.” In a statement, WME-IMG co-CEOs ARI EMANUEL and PATRICK WHITESELL said, “George has been a true partner to us these past few months and we’re grateful for all he has contributed to the company and our industry as a whole. We look forward to working with him in this next chapter.” Pyne signed an agreement in May to stay with IMG through the end of the year, but he began discussions this summer with Emanuel and Whitesell about leaving earlier than he planned. He moved forward with efforts to raise money this month to start his own company. Pyne has been interested in becoming a CEO for several years. He hoped to become IMG CEO in '11 after the company’s late Chair & CEO TED FORSTMANN was diagnosed with brain cancer. The CEO position instead went to MIKE DOLAN. After the company was sold to WME, Pyne remained interested in a CEO role with IMG, but Emanuel and Whitesell took responsibility for leading the combined companies and did not create a CEO position at IMG. The fund Pyne is raising will allow him to build and lead his own business. “After working in the business for 20-plus years, this is the next logical step,” Pyne said. “I had a great run at NASCAR. I had a great run at IMG. I want to acquire, own and operate businesses, recruit and lead talented people and develop a culture and business that reflects my values and what I’ve done over time. This is a great opportunity for me.” 

LATEST IMG FIGURE TO LEAVE COMPANY: Pyne’s departure comes six months after WME closed its $2.4B acquisition of IMG. The company, which funded the acquisition with $2B of debt, outlined an aggressive cost-cutting plan for IMG that called for eliminating $151M in costs in the first 18 months of ownership. In addition to Pyne, WME-IMG CFO PETER KLEIN and IMG Senior VP/Consulting DAVID ABRUTYN have left the company. The company has offset those departures by hiring former Microsoft and GM CFO CHRIS LIDDELL and former Turner sales exec GREG D'ALBA as head of global sales. But it does not plan to fill Pyne’s position. Pyne has been with IMG since '06 when Forstmann recruited him to lead the company’s sports and entertainment businesses. Those business units -- consulting, IMG Academy, licensing and client representation -- earned $119M last year. In addition to overseeing sports and entertainment, Forstmann and Pyne built IMG’s college business by acquiring Host Communications, CLC and ISP. The acquisitions helped consolidate the college business and created a new division at IMG that earned $66M last year. Pyne served as NASCAR COO prior to joining IMG. He joined NASCAR in '96 as the head of its licensing business and was named COO in '03.

Name: Sage Steele

Title: ESPN/ABC "NBA Countdown" host

Age: 41

Where I’m from: Indiana

Where I call home: Scottsdale

Focusing on right now: Paying really close attention to all things NBA while taking a break and hanging out with my three kids and my husband.

Steele makes spending time with her family a
priority during the NBA offseason
Best advice: My dad is a West Point grad, and throughout our childhood he made us recite part of the cadet prayer from West Point -- "Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong." I have to say as I’ve grown in my career, that is so important. It can be applied really anywhere in your life.

A must for a new hire: A team player, I think it's crucial. It isn't ever about just one person. Sometimes I've been criticized internally through the years as a really young reporter being too humble, taking a step back too much, and that’s because of my goal of making sure everyone feels included. But I think if you’re not a team player and don’t want to be part of the team, then I don’t want to work with you.

Media figure I admire the most: She was my idol -- and really she still is -- ROBIN ROBERTS. I know she’s that person for many women. It has nothing to do with race. People think, “Oh that’s the natural pick because you look the same.” But it was just that she was a woman sitting in that “SPORTSCENTER” chair, which is where I wanted to be. It seemed like she did everything the right way. Now I know more about her -- how she carries herself, and how she treats people so well no matter what’s happening in her life.

Best book I’ve read this year: I just started reading this on the plane the other day, "Lean In," by SHERYL SANDBERG. I struggle sometimes with that work-life balance. With three kids and a husband and really trying to own my job, it can be tough.

First thing in the morning: I feel kind of guilty about rolling over, turning off my alarm and checking e-mail or Twitter right off. Shouldn't I get a cup of coffee first or make sure my kids are still breathing first? So I do all of that first and it sort of gets my mind moving to start the day.

Talking tech: It took me a while to get active on Twitter. I thought it was really useless. But I’m usually slow taking to technology anyway -- I fight it. But I quit fighting and bought in and now I’m active on there. Also, I love my tablet because it’s made things so much easier. When I was hosting "SportsCenter," as well as "NBA COUNTDOWN," I have it with me at the desk there and during commercial breaks can quickly scan for information or opinions.

Must have music: I have so many random things on my iPod. I love ADELE, AMY WINEHOUSE, BRUNO MARS, JAY Z, BEYONCE, STRAIGHT NO CHASER -- an a capella group from my alma mater, Indiana. Also DR. DRE, all that stuff from the early '90s. JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE is my musical obsession. I just have to make sure I change it up when my kids get in my car -- then it’s good, wholesome mom and nice songs.

Food for thought: We cook at home a lot. We’re really pretty intolerant when it comes to picky children, so they eat what we eat. We eat a lot of salmon, asparagus, pasta. Also, my husband JONATHAN is a big hunter, so if he gets two deer a year, then we’re set with venison, which I use on anything. I have no tolerance for picky eaters.

How I unwind: I try to work out three to four days a week. But I will say, I really struggle with relaxing. I really don’t know how to, it’s a major issue with me. We go to Cape Cod with my mom sometimes and that’s honestly the only place I’m able to relax because she takes my phone and sends me to the beach with the kids.

Day in the life: The salary of NBA coaches has struck me recently. There are guys getting jobs who have no head coaching experience -- the STEVE KERRs and JASON KIDDs of the league. It's fascinating, the domino effect it has had. You have a guy like GEORGE KARL coming off being coach of the year, and then he's let go. It is fascinating to see what these owners are doing, what they're thinking and the chances they're taking on these young coaches.

The Orioles promoted Dir of Baseball Administration TRIPP NORTON to Dir of Baseball Operations, Coordinator of Team Travel KEVIN BUCK to Dir of Team Travel, Coordinator of Baseball Analytics SARAH GELLES to Dir of Baseball Analytics, and Manager of Baseball Operations BILL WILKES to Assistant Dir of Major League Administration & Professional Scouting (Orioles)....The Univ. of New Hampshire promoted NICOLE RICHARD to Associate AD/Marketing & Revenue Generation (UNH)....The Univ. of Massachusetts-Dartmouth named interim AD AMANDA VAN VOORHIS to the position permanently (UMass-D).

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Red Sox Chair and MLB Commissioner candidate TOM WERNER on Oct. 30 at the Pentagon will receive the U.S. Army’s Outstanding Civilian Service Medal, the highest honor given to civilians by the U.S. Army Chief of Staff. The honor recognizes Werner’s role in creating the Home Base Program, a private sector effort aiding veterans of military engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).

MEN OF INTEREST:'s Pete Prisco lists NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL, Cowboys Owner JERRY JONES and NFL Media COO BRIAN ROLAPP as the top three in a list of the 10 most interesting influencers in the NFL. Goodell is the "most powerful man in the league, even if many don't like him, including some players and media members." Jones "continues to be one of the best owners in terms of business and influence on the league," and he is "laughing at your mocking of him all the way to the bank." The rollout of NFL Now "will be something to watch in terms of Rolapp's vision" (, 8/12).

SUING THE UNION: Eleven former NFLers are part of a Missouri lawsuit against the NFLPA, including VAUGHN BOOKER, TAMARICK VANOVER and KEVIN WILLIAMS. The lawsuit, filed in St. Louis City Circuit Court last month by three former players, including NEIL SMITH, "alleges the union withheld information regarding the long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries and failed to protect its players." LADELL BETTS and ANTHONY DAVIS also are part of the suit (K.C. STAR, 8/13).

NAMES: Nike co-Founder & Chair PHIL KNIGHT and his wife PENNY are giving $25M to Providence Health & Services "for heart care, their biggest donation ever to the hospital system and the latest major medical gift" from the couple (, 8/12)....MSG Chair and Cablevision CEO JAMES DOLAN "exercised stock options for about 1.1 million shares in August that netted him profit" of about $12.9M (, 8/12)....Daytona Int'l Speedway President JOIE CHITWOOD III will be "one of six recipients" of the Univ. of South Florida Alumni Award (, 8/12)....Patriots Owner ROBERT KRAFT and coach BILL BELICHICK yesterday took part in the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS awareness (, 8/12)....The N.Y. TIMES released its 10 best-selling sports books in July, with WAYNE COFFEY and MARIANO RIVERA’s “THE CLOSER” coming in at No. 1 (N.Y. TIMES, 8/13)....Golfer SHIGEKI MARUYAMA is now asking for $16.5M for his 3.2 acre Bel-Air, Calif., house, down from an original asking price of $18.495M (L.A. TIMES, 8/13)....Sabres RW BRIAN GIONTA put his Montreal-area, 15,600-square-foot home on the market for C$1.45M (, 8/12)....Grizzlies F ZACH RANDOLPH on Sunday married his longtime girlfriend, FAUNE DRAKE, during a "lavish ceremony in the couple's native Indiana” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 8/13).