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Volume 25 No. 128

People and Pop Culture

Under Slive's watch, SEC football teams won an unprecedented seven consecutive BCS national titles

Former SEC Commissioner MIKE SLIVE, who "led the league to unprecedented success both on and off the field and managed its growth from a regional conference to national giant during his 13-year tenure," died yesterday at the age of 77 after a "lengthy illness," according to Mark Schlabach of Slive announced he was "beginning treatment for a recurrence of prostate cancer shortly before he retired" as SEC commissioner in July '15. He said that he had been "first diagnosed with the disease" in the late '90s. He had been "working as a consultant to the SEC since his retirement." Under Slive's watch, SEC football teams won an unprecedented seven consecutive BCS national titles from '06-12, the league's "footprint was expanded by adding new members Missouri and Texas A&M through expansion" in '12 and it "became the richest conference in college sports by launching the SEC Network two years later." Slive will be "remembered for overseeing what is considered the golden age in SEC athletics." Overall, SEC teams "won 75 national championships in 17 sports during his 13-year tenure" (, 5/16). YAHOO SPORTS' Sam Cooper noted before arriving in the SEC, Slive was the "founding commissioner" of the Great Midwest Conference and Conference USA, was an Assistant AD at Dartmouth, his alma mater, and the AD at Cornell. A "memorial will be held" tomorrow in Birmingham, where SEC HQ is based (, 5/16).

TRUE LEGEND: USA TODAY's George Schroeder writes Slive was "one of the most influential figures in the history of college athletics." He was a "catalyst in creating" the CFP, "working toward that goal for years after an unbeaten Auburn team was left out" of the '04 BCS championship game. He also was a "driving force in achieving autonomy for the Power Five conferences" (USA TODAY, 5/17). In Birmingham, Creg Stephenson wrote at one time, Slive was "considered the most powerful figure in college sports." He also served as coordinator of the BCS from '06-08 and as chair of the NCAA D-I Men's Basketball Committee from '08-09. At "one time or another," he was also chair of the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee, president of the College Commissioners Association and served on the NCAA Management Council (, 5/16).

Slive also made sure to champion diversity causes in the SEC as part of his leadership

CHANGING THE CULTURE: THE ATHLETIC's Bruce Feldman wrote the SEC "didn’t just lap the other power conferences, it also became something of a sports phenomenon" under Slive. When he "took over," the league was bringing in $96M as a whole. Thirteen years later, when he stepped down, each school was "raking in nearly half that amount." He also "polished up the image of the conference that had been rocked by one ugly scandal after another in the decades before he arrived." One of his "proudest moments was championing diversity causes in the SEC as part of his leadership, including the hiring of SYLVESTER CROOM at Mississippi State, the first African-American football coach in league history" (, 5/16).'s Tom Fornelli noted when Slive first became commissioner of the SEC, the league had "nine schools either on NCAA probation or under NCAA investigation." Slive promised that every member of the school "would be off probation within five years of his appointment, and he worked with school officials to implement reforms and hold themselves to higher standards" (, 5/16). YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel wrote because of Slive, across the South, the SEC "replaced NASCAR as its most popular cultural phenomenon" (, 5/16).

MEDIA MOMENT: In New Orleans, Ron Higgins notes under Slive's leadership, the league "launched the SEC Network" in August '14, which brought "more than 1,000 events into the homes and to the mobile devices of college sports fans across the country" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 5/17).'s Andy Staples noted during a round of conference realignment, Slive "targeted Texas A&M with the hope that adding the Lone Star State’s 10 million cable and satellite subscribers would make an SEC cable channel a viable option." Needing to "keep the numbers even and add more cable homes to the footprint, Slive began negotiating with Missouri as well." The additions allowed Slive to "craft the network and use the built-in demand of millions of Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Florida, LSU and Tennessee fans to ensure the network commanded a high subscriber fee and a near-perfect carriage rate when it launched" (, 5/16).

TWITTER REAX: Tributes are pouring in, remembering Slive's impact personally and professionally. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey: "I spent hours sitting with Mike Slive at this table in the @SEC Commissioner’s office. Every meeting was an honor & an education. Today, we lost a friend." The AP's Ralph Russo: "The College Football Hall of Fame usually considers only coaches and players, but it should make an exception for Mike Slive." Florida AD Scott Stricklin tweeted the SEC "will reap the benefit of Mike’s efforts and wisdom for years to come." Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel: "One of the most influential people in college sports history." Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari: "I am devastated tonight over the passing of my friend and mentor." ESPN's Chris Fowler: "An example to be followed. He leaves an enormous legacy in college sports." College football reporter Brett McMurphy: "The SEC never would have achieved all of its success without his brilliant leadership and guidance." SEC Network's Paul Finebaum: "His contriubtions to the SEC are countless; his legacy cemented in history." The Athletic's Stewart Mandel: "Slive will be remembered primarily for his work for the SEC, but he was also the driving force behind a 4-team playoff." ISP Sports Founder & Chair Ben Sutton: "Had as much impact on college sports as anyone."

NFL Senior VP/Club Business Development BRIAN LAFEMINA is joining the Redskins in a new role as President of Business Operations & COO. In this newly created role, Lafemina will oversee all club business operations and report directly to Owner DAN SNYDER. He was in his post at the NFL for eight years. Before joining the league, Lafemina spent 22 years at MSG, starting as an intern and working his way to Senior VP. His last day with the NFL is today, and he starts June 4 with the Redskins (Daniel Kaplan, Staff Writer). In DC, Copeland & Maske cite several people within the NFL as saying that they "expect Lafemina to become a central figure in the Redskins’ planning for their next stadium, a task that has been the primary responsibility" of President BRUCE ALLEN. One source said, "He’s very well thought of in the league office and by the teams. He’s really data-driven. He sees things from the fans’ perspective." A Redskins spokesperson said that the team still employs President of Business Operations DENNIS GREENE, who has held that title since '07 and "will now report to Lafemina." Copeland & Maske noted Lafemina will "oversee all business operations, while Greene will focus on hospitality and suites" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/17). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio wrote the fact that Lafemina will "report directly to Snyder suggests that Allen at a minimum has been undermined by the move, and at most could be on the way out." Indeed, if Allen were "getting done everything he needs to get done, as the president of the team, there would be no need to hire a President of Business Operations/COO who reports directly to Snyder." Thus, the move will "serve only to fuel speculation that Allen will indeed be leaving, possibly for the Raiders" (, 5/16).

MLB has selected 22 members for the inaugural class of its new Diversity Fellowship Program. First introduced last fall, the program will place two young professionals within MLB HQ in N.Y., and 20 more with individual club front offices for at least the next 18 months, with the extended duration of the fellowships a deliberate component of the initiative. The goal of the fellowship effort, part of the league’s larger Front Office & Field Diversity Pipeline Program, is to develop a broader pool of female and minority talent for careers within the sport. “The Commissioner’s Office and the clubs will now look to mentor and guide these individuals to what we hope are long, prosperous careers in baseball,” said MLB Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer RENÈE TIRADO, who was recently promoted amid Commissioner ROB MANFRED’s ongoing league reorganization. The chosen fellows are either recent college graduates or early-stage professionals. A 23rd fellow will be chosen later this year.

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"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, panelists chime in on Justify's chances at the Triple Crown, as well as some personal summer goals.

  • Minnesota United Senior VP/Corporate Partnership Sales & Activation Katie Mattis Sarver
    -- Patiently waiting for a revival of "The Wire."
  • Fox Sports VP/Acquisitions & Programming Josh Oakley 
    -- Keeps up with pop culture through Instagram, Spotify and baseball.
  • LPGA Dir of Corporate Partnerships Amy Engel
    -- Reads People magazine on airplanes to keep up.
Going Off The Grid
  Justify's chances of winning the Triple Crown Active athlete who'd be great on TV Personal summer goals A business person who influenced you greatly Favorite reality TV show

Mattis Sarver
33% Misty Copeland Play at least three rounds of golf Bill George, former majority owner of the Minnesota Thunder (now Minnesota United) NBA Playoffs and Finals

If I bet on him, 0% Blake Griffin Work on a boss tan. And sleep Peter Hutton, and my dad "The Bachelorette"

0% Aaron Rodgers Get an even tan Wasserman's Barry Hyde (for his fashion sense) "The Bachelor in Paradise"

Do you want to get your thoughts in the Grid? If so, shoot an e-mail to

LAFC named ADAM FRIEDMAN President of the newly formed Banc of California Stadium Entertainment (BOCS Entertainment), a division of LAFC Sports. Friedman was also named LAFC Sports Exec VP. He was most recently an entertainment industry consultant. BOCS Entertainment's HQ will be in downtown L.A., with Friedman reporting to LAFC co-Owner & President TOM PENN (LAFC). 

EXECS: Prodigy Sports named Palace Sports & Entertainment VP/Corporate Partnerships KYLE DRAPER Ironman North America Senior Dir of Global Partnerships (THE DAILY)....USL club Loudoun United named Yankees Premium Sales & Service Specialist ADAM BEHNKE COO (THE DAILY)....Davidson College named NBA Internal Basketball Operations Dir CHRIS CLUNIE AD. Clunie will begin July 1, replacing JIM MURPHY, who will step down after over two decades on the job (Davidson).

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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

Lachlan Murdoch will be Chair & CEO of the new Fox that includes its news channel and sports properties

21st Century Fox said that LACHLAN MURDOCH will "take on the role" of Chair & CEO of the newly structured Fox, but missing from the announcement was "any mention of Lachlan's brother JAMES, who has worked alongside his sibling for years at their father's media empire." It remains unclear if James "will have any role in the new company." The "New Fox" will consist of Fox News, Fox Sports, FS1, FS2, Fox Deportes and Big Ten Network (, 5/16).

PAYMENT PLANS: MIKE KRZYZEWSKI was credited with just over $7M in total compensation in '16, including more than $1.2M that had been "reported as deferred pay on prior years' returns, meaning his net compensation for the year" at Duke was near $5.8M. There are "no details about the period over which Krzyzewski accrued the previously reported deferred compensation and in what amounts" (, 5/16). Meanwhile, USC football coach CLAY HELTON was paid about $2.6M "during his first season leading the program" in '16. It is "unknown if Helton was awarded a pay raise at any point" since then (, 5/16). 

BOOK SHELF: Eagles DE MICHAEL BENNETT is co-writing a book with DAVE ZIRIN, and the NFLer wastes "few words and fewer emotions in this memoir." Bennett starts by "examining the brutal realities of both collegiate and professional football." The book, "THINGS THAT MAKE WHITE PEOPLE UNCOMFORTABLE," is the "necessary prelude to the serious work of Bennett's life, which will take place once he's done with football" (, 5/16).

NAMES: SERENA WILLIAMS appeared on the cover of the fashion section in today's N.Y. Times, as she "carves out time for her beauty regimen, which is a mix of natural-leaning products and ones chosen to produce results" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/17)....The Golden Knights invited the wife and children of late Humboldt Broncos coach & GM DARCY HAUGAN to watch Game 3 of the Western Conference Final last night. After the game, Golden Knights G MARC-ANDRE FLEURY had them "try on his helmet, fetched them drinks, signed their jerseys, posed for pictures and chatted with the two young boys" about playoffs (, 5/17)....ESPN's JAY BILAS was in K.C. on Tuesday as the "keynote speaker for the annual NAIA Champions of Character awards." Bilas said, "I thought the [Commission on College Basketball] failed in a lot of areas. If you're not going to address the money awash in the game, you haven't done anything" (, 5/16)....Bronze Medal-winning U.S. figure skater NATHAN CHEN was awarded a "proclamation" by Salt Lake City making May 16 "Nathan Chen Day" (, 5/16)....Tennis player BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS is a "serious Packers fan," and was "surprised with a signed helmet" by QB AARON RODGERS after coming back from an injury suffered at Wimbledon last year. The autograph reads, "Best wishes for your comeback season" (, 5/16)....Actor ETHAN HAWKE appeared on the “Bill Simmons Podcast” this week and said that he got "'kicked out' of Madison Square Garden and no longer gets free tickets from the team because he criticized their decision to fire MIKE D’ANTONI” (, 5/16)....Kansas men’s basketball coach BILL SELF will rappel down a seven-story building in downtown Lawrence on Aug. 25 as part of an “Over the Edge Global” fundraising event for the local Boys & Girls Club (, 5/16).

2018 Sports Business Awards – Wednesday, May 23

New York Marriott Marquis at Times Square

Former Disney Chair & CEO Michael Eisner will be presented with the SportsBusiness Journal/Daily Lifetime Achievement Award in New York City on May 23. Eisner’s vision for sports content transformed the entertainment industry, and he will be introduced by his former colleague, current Disney Chair & CEO Bob Iger. Please join us in what should be a special celebration of one person’s significant contribution to the sports business. Find out how you can be a part of the biggest night in sports business visit,

From TV ads to on-site activation, the sports space is an attractive destination for innovative approaches to sponsorship and marketing. We look at what’s trending for sports marketers and where they think the next big idea will land. Find out what lessons they’ve learned about categories and platforms, and what it means for the future.

Publishing Date: June 4

Ad Close: May 21

Materials Due: May 23

For more information, contact Julie Tuttle, National Director of Advertising at (212) 500-0711 or