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Volume 25 No. 175

People and Pop Culture

Former NBA Kings CRO JEFF DAVID "agreed to plead guilty in an audacious scheme" in which he siphoned off $13.4M from two of the team’s top sponsors and "spent it on beachfront homes in Southern California," according to Sam Stanton of the SACRAMENTO BEE. David's attorney, MARK REICHEL, said that his client signed a "plea agreement in a deal that will recoup all of the money diverted from the Golden 1 Credit Union and Kaiser Permanente." David is "expected to enter his guilty plea in a Sacramento federal courtroom in January." Prosecutors plan to "argue for sentence of 8 1/2 years, while his attorneys are expected to argue that he should serve no more than two years in prison." In August, David left his position as Heat CRO following the revelation that he was "under FBI investigation." Reichel said, "From the moment Mr. David was contacted by law enforcement he agreed to cooperate fully and completely. In fact, he flew on a plane from Miami, arriving in Sacramento around 3 a.m., to spend the entire day with federal law enforcement to explain everything truthfully. ... He has since spent every day working to ensure all of the monies were repaid and, in fact, the funds were repaid at lightning speed." The prosecutors "filed 11 counts of wire fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft." Kings officials said that a team employee "reviewing computer files left behind by David found a folder labeled 'Turbo tax' and began investigating" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 12/13). The AP's Paul Elias noted David admitted to "forging the team president’s signature to divert sponsorship payments to a bank account he controlled." Court records showed David "agreed to relinquish the properties," which have been sold for $14.8M, and the team is "expected to recoup the stolen funds" (AP, 12/12).

Esports team Immortals Founder NOAH WHINSTON has left his job as CEO to become Exec Chair. Immortals President & COO ARI SEGAL succeeds him in the top management role. Whinston founded the team in '15 and has emerged as one of the best-known execs in the rapidly growing industry. He has secured several major investors, including AEG and Lionsgate, and landed a charter franchise in the Overwatch League under the team name L.A. Valiant. Segal joined in October '17 after a stint as Coyotes COO. Whinston said the change will allow him to spend all of his time building the Immortals brand, communicating with fans, evangelizing for the industry and helping develop the broader esports ecosystem, while also letting Segal run the shop. “I have so much faith and trust in Ari around his ability to not just execute strategy, but his ability to develop it on its own,” Whinston said. “Giving him that added level of autonomy is important to me, and the board.” Immortals BOD member PETER LEVIN said Segal was hired with the intention of eventually making him the CEO. “Noah will be no less involved than he is now, it will just be in a more forward-leaning, outward messaging role,” Levin said.

"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 panelists opine on the college bowl season and sports that could be the next big thing in five years.

  • IndyCar President of Competition & Operations Jay Frye
    -- His favorite TV show is "Two and a Half Men."
  • NESN President & CEO Sean McGrail
    -- Never misses AC/DC on tour.
  • Duke Senior Deputy AD/Administration & Legal Affairs and Chief of Staff Nina King
    -- Is always ready to watch whatever is on Bravo.
  • WTA Senior VP/Legal & Business Affairs David Palanzo
    -- Is excited for the "Game of Thrones" finale.
Going Off The Grid
 
College bowl season needs... Undervalued sport that will be hot in 5 years Describe eggnog in three words Favorite sports movie character The NHL's expansion to Seattle is...
Frye
Fewer booth reviews
College volleyball
Nasty, not good
Rocky Balboa
Awesome, and the Grand Prix of
Portland is close by

McGrail
A big win by Wake Forest in the Birmingham Bowl
Esports
Really, really terrible
Rudy
Great for the league. May increase
umbrella-related merchandising
King
More teams in the CFP
Women's volleyball
Son's favorite drink
Ollie from "Hoosiers"
Exciting. Seems like a great fan base
 
Palanzo
Expanded playoffs
I wish I knew --
rooting for curling!
Not for me
Rudy and "Big Ern"
McCracken from "Kingpin"
 
Great for the Canucks

Do you want to get your thoughts in the Grid? If so, shoot an e-mail to jcarpenter@sportsbusinessdaily.com.

Download the
Going Off The Grid chart

MSG Co. named WeWork CMO GERALDINE CALPIN Exec VP & CMO, effective immediately. Calpin will report to President ANDREW LUSTGARTEN (MSG)....NBA Senior Dir & Head of Marketing for Europe & Middle East BRIANNE EHRENKRANZ will be departing in January. Ehrenkranz will not immediately be moving to a new position (THE DAILY)....BodyArmor named Coca-Cola North America Chief Financial & Supply Chain Officer BRENT HASTIE President, effective in March. Hastie will report directly to co-Founder & Chair MIKE REPOLE (BodyArmor)....American College of Education named USA Track & Field CMO JILL GEER to the same position, effective Jan. 2 (THE DAILY)....The NFL Panthers named Steelers VP/Planning & Development MARK HART to the same position (TWITTER.com, 12/12)....Campbell Univ. AD BOB ROLLER has reisgned to become Shriners Hospital for Children National Dir of Sports Marketing. Roller will begin his new position in January. Campbell Associate AD WANDA WATKINS will serve as interim AD beginning Jan. 1 (Campbell)....Little League Int'l promoted the following: LIZ DILULLO BROWN to Senior VP & CMO; KARL ECKWEILER to Senior VP & Chief Legal Officer; ANDY FREDERICK to Senior Dir of Information Services; BRENT STAHLNECKER to Dir of Risk Management; and SAM RANCK to Dir of League Development & Dir of the Challenger Division. Little League also named JENA DALYKAS Account Exec/Marketing. Meanwhile, Little League Programmer & Analyst RON SMITH and Little League Canada Assistant Regional Dir WENDY THOMSON are retiring (THE DAILY)....ROI Sports Marketing Group named KELLY CLINE Strategic Marketing & Event Planning Associate for Collegiate Sports Management Group (THE DAILY).

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

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Gimelstob is a frequent contributor to Tennis Channel and an elected official of the ATP
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Tennis Channel's JUSTIN GIMELSTOB has "pleaded not guilty to a charge of felony battery" in L.A. His case will be "followed closely by the tennis community as Gimelstob's post-playing career is in doubt after he was arrested on Nov. 21 in connection with an altercation on Halloween night." Gimelstob is "in jeopardy of losing one or more of his prominent roles in tennis." He is one of "three coaches" for JOHN ISNER, as well as a "frequent contributor to Tennis Channel and an elected official of the ATP." Isner, Tennis Channel and the ATP have "publicly adopted a wait-and-see approach" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/13).

EARNED HIS KEEP: Longtime Kansas State football coach BILL SNYDER retired earlier this month, but the school "plans to pay" his $3M contract buyout "as if he was terminated from the job without cause." K-State AD GENE TAYLOR said, "The buyout is just something I wanted to do. I think he deserved it for everything he has done." Taylor added, "He deserves every penny for what he has done for this program. I am happy to do it." Snyder will "take on a new role with the university as a special ambassador with an annual salary of $250,000 for as long as he is 'physically and mentally able'" (KANSASCITY.com, 12/12).

WELCOME TO THE HALL: Former NHLer and ref PAUL STEWART was inducted into the Hockey HOF last night. Stewart joined Predators GM & President of Hockey Operations DAVID POILE, former U.S. women's national team captain NATALIE DARWITZ, former Michigan mens' hockey coach RED BERENSON and late former NHLer LELAND HARRINGTON in being inducted. NHL Commissioner GARY BETTMAN also presented the Lester Patrick Award to late USA Hockey GM JIM JOHANNSON (AP, 12/13). Poile said of his induction, "My contributions pale compared to what U.S. Hockey has given me in return" (TENNESSEAN.com, 12/12).

NET INVESTMENTS: Former NBAer DEREK FISHER has joined Luxury Asset Capital’s newly-formed Sports & Entertainment Group (Luxury Asset Capital)....Warriors F DRAYMOND GREEN, former NFLer VICTOR CRUZ, Pro Football HOFer MICHAEL STRAHAN and Baseball HOFer FRANK THOMAS are among the founding members of the newly-formed investment group 100K Ventures (THE DAILY).

NAMES: The estate of late Seahawks and Trail Blazers Owner PAUL ALLEN is "making its first major philanthropic gift after his death," giving $125M to "establish a research division focused on immune system and related diseases" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 12/12)....NBA Commissioner ADAM SILVER and Basketball HOFer GRANT HILL on Friday were featured speakers at the Cities of Tomorrow conference in New Orleans (NYTIMES.com, 12/13)....Fanatics CEO DOUG MACK and Nike CEO MARK PARKER were listed in a Comparably survey of the best CEO’s among “large companies” (USATODAY.com, 12/11)....The Ringer’s BRYAN CURTIS has written “THE GREAT NFL HEIST: HOW FOX PAID FOR AND CHANGED FOOTBALL FOREVER.” The oral history was posted on the site today (BYERS MARKET, 12/13)....Former U.S. gymnast RACHAEL DENHOLLANDER, who “launched a #MeToo movement in the Olympic sport,” on Monday was presented with SI’s “inspiration of the Year” award in L.A. Denhollander was presented by CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 12/12)....Season 2 of the DisneyXD cartoon “MILO MURPHY'S LAW” will feature NASCAR drivers JOEY LOGANO, TY DILLON, RICKY STENHOUSE JR., ERIK JONES and WILLIAM BYRON, as well as former driver RUSTY WALLACE and Fox’ MIKE JOY (LATIMES.com, 12/12).