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Volume 24 No. 134

People and Pop Culture

Longtime ESPN veteran ED DURSO will retire from the company at the end of the year after a 28-year run. Durso, who has reported to four ESPN Presidents, most recently was Exec VP/Administration and has been part of ESPN’s executive management team for his entire career. “Ed and I have been discussing this decision for well over a year and I regret to say that my efforts to talk him into staying longer have come up short,” ESPN President JOHN SKIPPER wrote in a memo emailed to employees this afternoon. Skipper in the email credited Durso for being an integral part of everything from rights acquisitions and distribution deals to launching ESPN The Magazine and and mentioned the fact that Durso lobbied Congress and federal regulators. “Virtually every major business decision ESPN has reached over the last three decades was benefited by Ed's sound judgment, reason and insight,” Skipper wrote. “Notably, this was all done with uncommon humility and grace.” Durso came to ESPN in ‘89 following a 10-year run at MLB, where he was Exec VP & COO. ESPN Chief Counsel DIANE MORSE will assume Durso’s seat on the ESPN Board. Morse and Senior VP/Corporate Communications CHRIS LAPLACA will report to Skipper. They both had reported to Durso. Durso’s other direct reports, VP/Corporate Citizenship KEVIN MARTINEZ and VP/Global Security & Facilities Operations MIKE HEIMBACH, now will report to Senior VP/Human Resources PAUL RICHARDSON.

SBJ/SBD today is holding its fifth annual conference celebrating “Game Changers: The Intersection of Women and Sports.” Below are the female execs honored as a part of this year’s class (THE DAILY).

Jean Afterman
Yankees Senior VP and Assistant GM
Christina Alejandre
Turner Sports VP/Esports and ELeague GM
Kenyatta Bynoe
Spalding VP/Global Brand Marketing & Partnerships
Katie Bynum
USGA Senior Dir of Partnerships
Danielle Cantor
FAME Partner
Jennifer Cohen
Univ. of Washington AD
Kirsten Corio
USTA Managing Dir of Ticket Sales, Premium & Digital Strategy
Sarah Cummins
N.Y. Road Runners Head of Business Development & Strategic Partnerships
Ayala Deutsch
NBA Exec VP and Deputy General Counsel
Kimberly Fields
NFL Special Assistant to the Commissioner
Laura Froelich
Twitter Global Head of Sports Partnerships
Libby Geist
ESPN VP and Exec Producer for ESPN Films & "30 for 30"
Hannah Gordon
49ers General Counsel
Shauna Griffiths
LeadDog Marketing Group Senior VP/Strategic Marketing, Partnerships & Communications
Catie Griggs
Atlanta United VP/Business Operations
Amy Howe
Ticketmaster North America COO
Allison Keller
PGA Tour Chief Administration Officer
Morane Kerek
Gina Lehe
CFP Senior Dir of Communications & Brand Management
Lauren Cooks Levitan
Fanatics CFO
Adrienne Lofton
Under Armour Senior VP/Global Brand Management
Jodi Logsdon
CBS Sports News Dir & Coordinating Producer
Samita Mannapperuma
NBC Sports Group VP/Business Development
Beth McClinton
CAA Corporate Communications Exec
Stephanie McMahon
WWE Chief Brand Officer
Marisabel Munoz
MLS and SUM VP/Communications
Erika Nardini
Barstool Sports CEO
Elizabeth O'Brien
IBM Program Dir of Sports & Entertainment Parternships
Nzinga Shaw
Hawks and Philips Arena Senior VP and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer
Renata Simril
LA84 Foundation President & CEO
Shauna Smith
Aquarius Sports & Entertainment VP/Client Services
Keisha Taylor
Learfield Senior VP/Integrated Marketing
Renee Tirado
MLB VP/Talent and Head of Inclusion & Diversity
Renee Washington
USA Track & Field COO
Lynn White
NHL Group VP/Int'l Strategy

Follow updates from the conference with the Twitter hashtag #sbjgc.

"Going Off The Grid" is a weekly survey of sports execs and personalities offering their thoughts on a handful of pressing (and trivial) issues in sports and pop culture. This week, our experts chime in on fantasy football and tell us whether they're buying or selling Disney's soon-to-debut ESPN OTT platform.

  • NHL Senior VP/Technology Grant Nodine
    – Interested in gadgets, gizmos and personal technology.
  • Coca-Cola VP/Connections Planning Katie Baillie Miller
    – Will be watching the Primetime Emmys on Sunday.
  • MLS/SUM VP Eric Krasnoo
    – Monitors how technology changes day-to-day interactions
  • Pac-12 CFO Laura Hazlett
    – Is interested in fidget spinners.

Going Off The Grid
  Your favorite thing about autumn What is your favorite tailgate food? Athlete you want to see as a broadcaster J.J. Watt's fundraising effort in one word Buying or selling Disney's ESPN OTT service?

Hockey season of course, and Thanksgiving Freshly smoked pork shoulder, shredded, on a fresh-baked Portuguese roll Darren Sproles Stratospheric Selling

College football, weekends with friends and family Buffalo wings Matt Ryan Inspirational Need to learn more

The leaves turning (I'm a New Englander) BBQ ribs Jozy Altidore Heartwarming Buying

The start of college basketball Anything with guacamole We have Bill Walton - who else would you want? Inspirational Buying
Do you want to get your thoughts in the Grid? If so, shoot an e-mail to

The Thunder hired former Magic GM ROB HENNIGAN. Hennigan's position was not reported, but he "could be in line to fill some of the duties" of former Assistant GM MICHAEL WINGER, who reportedly left to become Clippers GM (, 9/13)....The Jazz named Bucks Assistant GM JUSTIN ZANIK to the same position. The team also promoted Basketball Operations Consultant DAVID MORWAY to Assistant GM and Basketball Operations Assistant STEVEN SCHWARTZ to Dir of Basketball Operations (, 9/13).

EXECS: Olympics agency Chicago Sports & Entertainment Partners has added former BP Head of Olympic/Paralympic Marketing GEORGE BAUERNFEIND as its fourth partner. Bauernfeind will help build a sponsorship consulting business for CESP, best known today as a representation agency for Current and retired Olympians (Ben Fischer, Staff Writer)....The Vikings hired 18-year-old JONAH STILLMAN to "find new ways to connect with the new generation." Known as the "Gen Z guru," Stillman is expected to consult the team on "marketing, digital media content and strategy as well as STEM opportunities with the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center and workplace culture" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/14)....Combate Americas named FanDuel GM of Integrated Partnerships MIKE PINE CRO (Combate).

Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to

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Ready to make your next great hire? Or take the next step in your career? Connect with the industry’s top employers and job seekers on the Sports Business Career Link. For more information, contact Megi Beqiraj at 212-500-0705, or

Dolphins Owner STEPHEN ROSS pledged $1M to "immediate and long-term rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma." The team is also "helping to provide volunteers through the Miami Dolphins Special Teams powered by AARP Foundation." The volunteers are to be "deployed in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties." In addition, the Dolphins have partnered with the AARP Foundation on a "dollar for dollar matching campaign," with 100% of the money raised "going directly into the community" (, 9/13).

THE REAL MVP: Seven-year-old HAILEY DAWSON, who has a robotic hand, will "throw out the first pitch for Game 4 of the World Series." Dawson was born with a birth defect called Poland Syndrome, and has "made it her mission to throw out the first pitch at every MLB ballpark." She has "thrown out the first pitch" for the Orioles, Mets, Brewers, Mariners, A’s, Twins and Tigers (USA TODAY, 9/14).

NAMES: Detroit Mayor MIKE DUGGAN said that he has tapped Cavaliers Owner DAN GILBERT to "recruit what he hopes will be a regional team to present a single proposal to convince" Amazon to "build a second headquarters" in the city (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 9/14)....The family of former NHLer JEFF PARKER, who died Monday and was among a group of former players suing the league over its approach to head injuries and brain trauma, "plans to donate his brain to researchers" at Boston Univ. (, 9/13)....Goldman Sachs “plans to invest” $233M to join Under Armour Founder, Chair & CEO KEVIN PLANK’s development firm Sagamore Development in “remaking Port Covington.” The Port Covington site is “next to 50 acres on which Baltimore-based Under Armour is building" a new world HQ (, 9/13)....Patriots S DEVIN MCCOURTY this week “suited up as a sous chef in Boston Medical Center’s demonstration kitchen, prepping a healthy snack for adult and pediatric patients with sickle cell disease” (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/14).

IN MEMORY: Former WADA Chair GARY WADLER died Tuesday at the age of 78. He was a “founding member” of WADA in ’00, and at one point he “led the committee that determined what substances would be on the agency’s banned list” (N.Y. TIMES 9/14).

AXS Sports Facilities & Franchises and Ticketing Symposium
Oct. 11-13 – The Omni Atlanta Hotel CNN Center – Atlanta
Thursday, Oct. 12 – Sports Facilities & Franchises

Diversifying Revenue Streams: Future Revenue Opportunities

This cross-section of speakers will weigh in on the areas of business they are looking to monetize and what new opportunities have the most growth potential.

Joe Januszewski
Executive Vice President & Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer
Texas Rangers

Lew Sherr
Chief Revenue Officer

John Short
GTS Global Business Development, Sports and Entertainment Technical Solutions

Mike Tomon
Legends North American Sports & Events

Teddy Werner
Vice President, Marketing and Business Strategy
Milwaukee Brewers