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Volume 26 No. 204

People and Pop Culture

NFL Deputy General Counsel, Litigation & Legal Affairs ANASTASIA DANIAS SCHMIDT is leaving the league to join MLS as the soccer league’s new general counsel. Her first day there is scheduled to be May 13. Schmidt has been with the NFL since '00. She has handled commercial and antitrust litigation, as well as the concussion lawsuits filed against the league, having had a central role in the settlement of those cases. At MLS, Schmidt -- who just recently began using her husband’s last name for business -- will have a key role in the strategic, legal and operational functions of the league. She will report to MLS President and Deputy Commissioner MARK ABBOTT. Current MLS General Counsel BILL ORDOWER is joining the commercial side of the organization in the newly-created position of Exec VP/MLS Business Ventures. He will help oversee commercial opportunities for MLS and Soccer United Marketing. He will report to MLS Deputy Commissioner and President of MLS Business Ventures GARY STEVENSON. The NFL declined to comment, referring questions to MLS. Abbott in a statement said, “Anastasia is one of the most talented and admired legal executives in professional sports today. ... Her collaborative efforts with our leadership team and clubs will be critical during this continued period of growth for MLS and the game in the U.S. and Canada.”

USA Swimming has hired former Under Armour Head of Marketing Canada SHANA FERGUSON as its first Chief Commercial Officer, replacing longtime CMO MATT FARRELL after he left in ’18 for a job with Golf Channel. Ferguson reports to CEO TIM HINCHEY and will oversee sponsorship sales, marketing, revenue generation, communications, events and ticket sales, business intelligence and media rights. Hinchey in a statement said Ferguson, a former college swimmer at Navy, is “perfectly well-suited to help us share authentic stories, sell a valuable product, and grow support for our organization across all levels, from grassroots to corporate partnerships.” Ferguson was with UA for more than 10 years, first as Dir of Global Experiential Marketing and then as Head of Marketing for Canada. She most recently was VP/Marketing Communications with Icahn Automotive Group in Philadelphia. “This is a dream opportunity to impact a sport I love, alongside people I admire,” Ferguson said.

NFL Senior VP/Football Administration & Club Services ROD GRAVES is stepping down to become Fritz Pollard Alliance Chair, as he will succeed the retiring JOHN WOOTEN (, 4/22)....The Premier Lacrosse League named NFL Dir of Media Marketing DIVYA GOEL Head of Marketing, giving her oversight of the league’s marketing functions and efforts to build fan affinity. Goel, who will be based in L.A., is the PLL's first marketing hire. A search firm was not used (Adam Stern, THE DAILY)....The Univ. of New Orleans named Northeastern Univ. Deputy AD/External Affairs TIM DUNCAN AD. Duncan replaces DEREK MOREL, who left in '18 to become Allstate Sugar Bowl Exec VP/Sales & Marketing (, 4/22)....NYCFC Academy named LIAM MANNING Dir of Coaching (NYCFC).

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Wirtz thinks Chicago's new mayor should hold monthly meetings to connect with the community
Wirtz thinks Chicago's new mayor should hold monthly meetings to connect with the community
Wirtz thinks Chicago's new mayor should hold monthly meetings to connect with the community

Blackhawks Chair ROCKY WIRTZ in a transition memo to Chicago Mayor-elect LORI LIGHTFOOT said there are "serious problems" between outgoing Mayor RAHM EMANUEL and the city's business community. Wirtz "argued the business community 'should not fear its mayor and no mayor should be intimidated by any one business.'" Wirtz "suggests Lightfoot commit to holding one breakfast meeting each month with no more than 10 business leaders at a time to 'engage in structured discussions around concerns'" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 4/23).

RAISING AWARENESS: Strike Out Slavery is partnering with the Royals and P BRAD KELLER, as well as Mets 2B ROBINSON CANOto host awareness festivals and postgame concerts featuring singer LAURYN HILL. In addition, Strike Out Slavery will return to Angel Stadium for the third annual Strike Out Slavery with ALBERT PUJOLS (Strike Out Slavery).

COURT REPORT: Tennis Channel analyst and ATP BOD member JUSTIN GIMELSTOB "pleaded no contest" in an L.A. court yesterday to a "felony battery charge for his part in a physical altercation on Halloween night last year." Gimelstob was sentenced to three years’ probation and 60 days of community labor (N.Y. TIMES, 4/22)....Nearly three dozen men and women have "filed a federal class-action lawsuit accusing Florida authorities of unlawfully videotaping them as they received legal massages" at a parlor where ROBERT KRAFT and others "allegedly paid for sex." The lawsuit is the "latest attack on the legality of the recordings and the warrant that allowed cameras to be installed" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 4/23).

NAMES: Broncos LB VON MILLER has "avoided legal action after posing with a bloody hammerhead shark" in April '18 off the coast of Miami during a fishing trip (USA TODAY, 4/23)....RUSSELL WILSON last week became the highest-paid player in the NFL after signing a $140M extension, and he “recently gave each of the team’s 13 offensive linemen $12,000 in stock” (, 4/22)....Bears Chair GEORGE MCCASKEY and RB TARIK COHEN yesterday “met with members of Heartland Alliance’s Rapid Employment and Development Initiative” in North Lawndale (, 4/22)....DOMINIQUE WILKINS will give the commencement speech for Morris Brown College on May 18 (, 4/22)....TOM BRADY and wife GISELE BUNDCHEN “enjoyed the holiday weekend with their children” at Disneyland (, 4/22).

Intersport Brand Engagement & Content Summit
May 29-30, 2019
Renaissance Downtown Chicago

Changing the Content Game
Kevin Durant's Thirty Five Ventures "The Boardroom" --A New Sports Business Show for ESPN+

This session will take an in-depth look at Durant's latest venture, "The Boardroom" on ESPN+, and the way it aims to bring fans behind the scenes of the sports business like never before. With perspectives from sports executives, athletes, and tech moguls alike, the conversations uncover what's driving the business of sports and sports culture.

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