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Volume 25 No. 27

People and Pop Culture

The NBA named retired Air Force Lt. Gen. MICHELLE JOHNSON Senior VP & Head of Referee Operations, effective today. She will report to President of League Operations BYRON SPRUELL. Johnson replaces Exec VP/Referee Operations MIKE BANTOM, who is transitioning to a new role with the league after five years. Bantom will become a senior adviser on several development initiatives (NBA). Johnson, who previously ran the Air Force Academy, left in August after four years in the position. She had said that she "wanted to lead a civilian college life after leaving the academy," and was a finalist earlier this year for the chancellor role at the Univ. of Colorado (, 10/12).

EXECS: Denver-based player representation firm KO Sports named former NHLer ADAM FOOTE Dir of Player Development. The agency "represents more than 25 NHL players" (, 10/12)....Nebraska Senior Associate AD/Marketing & Communications DAVID WITTY is "leaving NU's athletic department Oct. 23 and returning to the IMG job he held before joining the Huskers' media relations staff." Witty will be Huskers IMG Sports Marketing VP & GM (OMAHA WORLD-HERALD, 10/13)....ESPN Editorial & Publicity Assistant TAYLOR GARRETT has left the company's Bristol-based PR department (, 10/11).

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New Augusta National Golf Club Chair FRED RIDLEY "began his tenure today." Ridley will "focus on completing the final projects" that started under former Chair BILLY PAYNE and "will be ready in time" for the '18 Masters. The projects include a "new merchandise and concession area along the main patron corridor, and a new administration building." Ridley is "currently a partner and national chair of the real estate practice" for law firm Foley & Lardner. Ridley said that from an administrative standpoint, he "learned valuable lessons from Payne and called him a 'great mentor'" (, 10/16).

LOOK AT ME NOW: In West Palm Beach, Tom D'Angelo profiled Heat Senior VP/Basketball Operations & GM ANDY ELISBURG, who "epitomizes" how far the franchise has come over the last 30 years. Starting as an intern for then-PR Dir MARK PRAY, Elisburg was a student at St. Thomas Univ. when he was "hired to do, well, everything, and started working his way up" in '88. Elisburg is "one of a handful of people who have been with the organization continuously" for the past three decades. The Heat had "about 20 employees" then but employ "close to 200" now (PALM BEACH POST, 10/15).

HOPING FOR THE BEST: Golden Knights Owner BILL FOLEY's winery in Sonoma County, Calif., was "evacuated as wildfires in the region swept closer to his property." He said, "We evacuated Friday. We’re monitoring the situation and hoping for the best." Foley said that one employee who lives in Santa Rosa "lost his home in the fires" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 10/15).

STARTING FROM SCRATCH: Nike Chief Design Officer JOHN HOKE is profiled as part of the N.Y. Times' "In The Studio" feature. Hoke said he "doodled everything" at a young age. Hoke: "That was the way I communicated. I find that I listen better when my hand is busy. And I find that when I’m listening intently and I’m gesturally moving my pen, some interesting things come out. They’re not perfect, they’re not final, but they’re a glimpse of an idea. It helps me process, helps me stay focused" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/16).

NAMES: U.S. figure skater GRACIE GOLD in a statement said she is "currently in treatment for depression, anxiety and an eating disorder." To continue her treatment, Gold said that she is "withdrawing from two Grand Prix events next month, which will significantly threaten her chances to compete" at the '18 PyeongChang Games (WASHINGTON POST, 10/15)....ANDRE AGASSI was in Charlotte on Friday to visit the KIPP Change Academy, which he helped start and now “serves about 360 students ranging in age from kindergartners to fifth-graders” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/14)....Former Portland State football player DENNIS BEETHAM and his wife, JANET, are “donating” $2M to the school’s athletic department. The money will be used to “create a permanent” athletic HOF exhibit within the PSU Pavilion (, 10/14)....DEREK JETER said that the Marlins are “donating $200,000 to hurricane relief efforts” (, 10/14)....Rockets Gs JAMES HARDEN and CHRIS PAUL were “behind home plate” at Yankees-Astros ALCS Game 2 (, 10/14)....CBS Chair, President & CEO LES MOONVES sat in Patriots Owner ROBERT KRAFT's box at yesterday's Pats-Jets game at MetLife Stadium (THE DAILY).

The 13th annual SportsBusiness Journal/Daily Reader Survey is now live. This year's survey gives you a chance to quickly weigh in on topics such as:

* Sports business story of the year
* Most intriguing athlete
* Most intriguing sports executive
* Sport that needs a quicker game/competition
* Role of sports in society
* Effect of player protests
* Sport with the most family-friendly experience

Cast your votes and then look for results in SportsBusiness Journal and THE DAILY the week of Nov. 27.