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Volume 25 No. 27

People and Pop Culture

NFL COO TOD LEIWEKE is leaving after three years on the job, according to an internal memo Commissioner ROGER GOODELL sent out this morning. Leiweke will be replaced by MARYANN TURCKE, who was hired a year ago as president of digital media and NFL Network. In his memo, Goodell said it was Leiweke’s decision to leave. “During his time here in New York, Tod was instrumental in guiding our long-term strategic process and has been a valuable resource, not only to me but to ownership, our clubs and the entire league.” The NFL did not say where Leiweke is headed, though it has been rumored that he was looking to join his brother TIM, who is CEO of Oak View Group. Leiweke has spent a lot of his time recently on the NFL’s long-term planning, especially around plans for the league’s 100th anniversary celebrations next year. Goodell hired the well-regarded Leiweke from the Lightning shortly after the NFL was rocked by domestic violence scandals in '14. Leiweke’s main role at first was to calm the waters and take some of the pressure off of Goodell. The league, though, has suffered through continued turbulence, from the anthem-related protests to the owner battles over Goodell’s contract. In fact, Cowboys Owner JERRY JONES, who tried to impede Goodell’s contract, has said that he is unhappy over staffing levels and quality at NFL headquarters. Last year, four weeks after the NFL hired Turcke, the league went through a reorganization that saw BRIAN ROLAPP get promoted to Chief Media & Business Officer. In getting the promotion, Rolapp started reporting directly into Goodell; previously he had reported into Leiweke. Leiweke joins NFL Exec VP/Communications JOE LOCKHART in leaving since Jones took aim at the league office, and they are not expected to be the only ones. Goodell closed the memo by saying, “There will be further organizational announcements as we continue to assess the opportunities and challenges and position ourselves for continued success.”

TURCKE TAKES CENTER STAGE: Turcke will move from L.A. to N.Y. to take on the COO role, in which she becomes the highest-ranked woman at the NFL. As COO, Turcke will oversee the marketing, communications, human resources, international, events and technology departments. Football operations, headed up by Exec VP TROY VINCENT, will not report into Turcke, though it did report into Leiweke. Turcke’s NFL career took a star turn in the year that she has overseen NFL Network. The channel posted one of its best years under her leadership and became the second most viewed sports network during NFL season to ESPN. Turcke ran Bell Media in Canada before joining the NFL and has a lot of corporate experience, including the management of a large team of people. “I expect her leadership, vision and corporate governance experience to help evolve our organization and take it to a higher level,” Goodell wrote.

During her tenure, Ackerman moved the conference HQ from Providence to Manhattan
Photo: PATRICK E. MCCARTHY

Big East Commissioner VAL ACKERMAN has signed a three-year contract extension to stay with the conference through the '20-21 school year. Ackerman has been with the Big East now for five years, having taken the helm in June '13 after it re-branded itself as a basketball-centric league. During her tenure, Ackerman moved the conference HQ from Providence to Manhattan, launched the Big East Digital Network, Gavitt Tipoff Games, the Big East Health & Safety Working Group and summits exploring diversity and inclusion, mental health, sports and society, social and digital strategies and sports broadcasting careers. Ackerman was recently named by SBJ/SBD as No. 45 on the list of most-influential execs in sports business. She also was honored by SBJ/SBD in '11 as a "Champion" of sports business. She currently sits on the NCAA Men's Basketball Oversight Committee, the U.S. Soccer Federation BOD and Women's Basketball HOF BOD.

Also check out a recent look at Ackerman's 7th floor corner office in midtown Manhattan.

MLBAM this week laid off more than 50 people as it continues its reorganization that is unifying baseball’s digital operations with the rest of league functions. Among the departments involved were editorial and video support services and business development. The move follows a similar wave of about 30 people laid off in January that also included staffers from MLBAM’s content department along with consumer products execs STEVE ARMUS and GREG SIM. Both sets of layoffs follow a large-scale review of league functions led by MLB Commissioner ROB MANFRED and involving McKinsey & Co. to streamline operations and eliminate prior duplication between MLB and MLBAM. Those efforts took on a heightened state following last summer’s acquisition of a majority stake in BAMTech by Disney and then the departure last fall of former MLB President of Business & Media BOB BOWMAN.

The Tucson-based Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl named DEL ARVAYO COO (THE DAILY)....The A's promoted Sales Consultant CHRISTIAN AGUINALDO to Account Exec of Membership Services (THE DAILY)....Sterling.VC, the venture fund backed by the WILPON family, which owns the Mets, named Red Bull Media House Esports Division Senior Program Manager for Events BEN NICHOL Head of Events & Business Development. Sterling.VC also backs the N.Y. Excelsior of the Overwatch League (ESPORTSOBSERVER.com, 3/12)....The Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality BOD elected former NFL Commissioner PAUL TAGLIABUE as co-Chair (RISE)....The Stadium Managers Association Foundation BOD elected THP Limited Principal & Marketing Manager LIZ ZIMMER as President and Daktronics Live Event Sales RUSTY LENNERS as VP (SMA Foundation).

Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to editorial@sportsbusinessdaily.com.

 

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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 mbeqiraj@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

Wade has decided to extend the "Parkland 17" art exhibit into this week
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

DWYANE WADE on Saturday announced he and his wife, actress GABRIELLE UNION, were "donating $200,000 to help pay for students from his hometown of Chicago to join the gun control rally" led by Marjory Stoneman Douglas students on March 24 in DC. After Wade's announcement, CARMELO ANTHONY tweeted that he was "standing with Wade and donating $25,000 to help students from Baltimore in their efforts to march against gun violence." Wade has also "decided to extend the 'Parkland 17' art exhibit, which was on display inside a warehouse" in Miami's Wynwood district for 17 hours over the weekend, "into this week so more people have the opportunity to pay homage to the victims and to reach out to state representatives in the fight for better gun control" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/13).

CELEBRATING THE CHAMPS: The Astros yesterday visited the White House to celebrate winning the World Series, and PRESIDENT TRUMP saluted the team and the "unbreakable spirit of the great state of Texas." Owner JIM CRANE "described how the Astros' success was a salve for the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey." Astros manager A.J. HINCH "sensed the reverence and emotion from his players when they set foot in the White House." He said that his players "proved to be community leaders in their response to the hurricane." Astros SS CARLOS CORREA did not attend the White House visit; the team said that he "had a family obligation" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/13).

NAMES: Warriors coach STEVE KERR yesterday told students at Newark Memorial High School in California that "safety in schools should be their 'No. 1 issue,' urged them to vote and consider what they might be able to do to make gun safety and awareness a priority." Kerr said, "It's my responsibility to speak on something that's very important to me" (AP, 3/12)....NBC has renewed the CHRIS HARDWICK-hosted game show “THE WALL” for a 20-episode third season. The show is executive produced by LEBRON JAMES and SpringHill Entertainment co-Founder & CEO MAVERICK CARTER (DEADLINE.com, 3/12)....TOM BRADY, wife GISELE BUNDCHEN and their kids over the weekend were spotted at Chelsea Piers in N.Y. and later at the Broadway show “SCHOOL OF ROCK.” They also went to “National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey” in Times Square (NYPOST.com, 3/12).

SBJ-Intersport Brand Engagement & Content Summit
June 5-6, 2018 / Hotel Nikko, San Francisco
www.BrandEngagementandContentSummit.com

The Content Imperative: Strategy, Rights and the Impact on Sponsorship Deals

By attending the Brand Engagement & Content Summit you will learn:
• How partners are collaborating on content that resonates with consumers
• How the sponsorship industry will address the necessary changes to move from a business based on TV rights to one based on new forms of media consumption

You will hear from:
• Shannon Dan, Senior Vice President, Digital Strategy, Intersport
• Mark Foxton, Director, Sports Marketing, Levi's
• Brent Schoeb, Vice President, Corporate Partnerships, San Francisco 49ers and Levi’s Stadium
• Rob Temple, Senior Vice President, Sports Management Group, ESPN