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Volume 20 No. 41

People and Pop Culture


The Phoenix Suns hired Zaheer Benjamin as director of financial planning.

SUNY Geneseo named Michael Mooney athletic director.

The University of Tennessee hired Jason Yellin as assistant athletic director for media relations. Yellin held the same position at the University of Massachusetts.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas hired Kreigh Warkentien as director of basketball operations.

The Barclays Center of Brooklyn hired John Sparks as general manager. Sparks was vice president and general manager of AT&T Center in San Antonio.

The Miami Dolphins promoted Chris Shea to assistant director of pro scouting and Chase Leshin to college scouting coordinator, and hired John Ritcher as scouting assistant.

Buffalo Communications promoted Jamie Brooks to public relations specialist and hired Scott Leightman as public relations manager.


SportsMark Management Group promoted Joanna Stott to vice president of marketing communications and brand development and Lynn Blumberg to director of Olympic operations.

SportsOne promoted Susan Etzel Gonzalez to director of projects and client services.

Team Epic promoted Lindsay Hinsch, Alyssa Sanchez-Smith and Jessica

Wonderly to senior managers and hired Riley McCarthy as an associate.

U/S Sports Advisors hired Todd Sermersheim as managing director of sales. Sermersheim was director of integrated partnership at WWE.

Univision hired Rick Alessandri as senior vice president of business development. Alessandri was senior vice president of consumer products and managing director of X Games.

Bleacher Report hired Rich Calacci as chief revenue officer.

Big Lead Sports hired Brian LaRock as chief operating officer and chief financial officer. LaRock was chief financial officer at 5min Media and UGO Entertainment.

ESPN hired Cindy Freed as vice president of sales marketing. Freed was on the ad-sales marketing team for Yahoo!.

Multiteam Companies
The Madison Square Garden Co. promoted Casey Coffman to corporate senior vice president of corporate strategy and development.

Sunrise Sports & Entertainment hired Pete Soto as senior director of presentation and production.

Sporting Goods and Apparel
Adidas promoted Hermann Deininger to chief marketing officer for the Adidas brand.

Nike named Michael Spillane chief executive officer and president of Umbro and Jim Calhoun chief executive officer and president of Converse.


Professional Bull Riders hired Terry Bassett as executive vice president of sales and partnerships. Bassett was chief executive officer and partner at Genesis Advantage.

Charlotte Lacrosse hired Damon Roschke as ticket sales manager. Roschke was a group sales executive at the U.S. National Whitewater Center.

The U.S. Bowling Congress hired Herman Glenn as director of equipment specifications.

The Coca-Cola Co. promoted Bea Perez to chief sustainability officer.

World Triathlon Corp. named Andrew Messick CEO, replacing Ben Fertic, who will become president. Messick was president of AEG Sports.

Awards and Boards

Major League Baseball appointed Minnesota Twins owner Jim Pohlad to MLB’s finance committee.

The Outback Bowl named Dale Dignum chairman of the board of directors.

World Golf Tour, an Internet-based golf game, named Mark Jung to the board of directors.

People news
To have your personnel announcements included in the People section, please send information and photos to Brandon McClung at 120 W. Morehead St., Suite 310, Charlotte, NC 28202, or email them to Electronic photos must be a jpg or tiff file for Macintosh, 2.25 inches wide at 300 dpi. Color only, please. News items may also be sent via fax to (704) 973-1401. If you have questions, call (704) 973-1425.

Broadcasters, writers honored

The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association held its annual awards weekend May 14-16 in Salisbury, N.C. Among the honorees at the awards banquet were Mike Tirico (left) of ESPN/ABC, presented the National Sportscaster of the Year Award by Curtis Strange.

Bob Ryan (left) of the Boston Globe, was inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame. He's pictured here with master of ceremonies Karl Hales.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated was honored as National Sportswriter of the Year.

Nets talk up arena at Barclays

New Jersey Nets executives, center Brook Lopez, and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz visited Barclays’ Manhattan headquarters May 16 to give a presentation about the Barclays Center, which will open in Brooklyn in September 2012. From left: Barclays Co-CEO Jerry del Missier, Nets coach Avery Johnson, Lopez, Markowitz, Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner, Nets CEO Brett Yormark, Nets GM Billy King, and Barclays CAO Gerard LaRocca.

NFLers attend screening of show on alma mater

Notable Long Beach Poly High School football alumni, including several NFL pros, turned out to help kick off Current TV’s new original documentary series “4th and Forever” at a screening in Los Angeles on May 11. The series chronicles the Long Beach Poly football team’s turbulent 2010 season. From left: Arizona Cardinals linebacker Pago Togafau, Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis, Washington Redskins wide receiver Terrence Austin, Current TV CEO Mark Rosenthal, Long Beach Poly football coach Raul Lara, Current TV executive vice chairman and co-founder Joel Hyatt, Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Donovan Warren, former Houston Texans linebacker Darnell Bing, and former New England Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest.

Indy roars into Macy’s

Izod and Macy’s brought the Indianapolis 500’s 100th anniversary celebration to New York City with the grand opening of the “100 Years of Indy Racing, Fashion & Design” exhibit. At Macy’s Herald Square (from left): Allen Sirkin, Phillips-Van Heusen Corp. president and COO; 1969 Indy 500 winner Mario Andretti; Terry Lundgren, Macy’s chairman, president and CEO; and Manny Chirico, Phillips-Van Heusen CEO.

Newark welcomes the Liberty

The New York Liberty, Prudential Center and the city of Newark hosted a special “Welcome the Liberty to Newark” event May 19 at the arena. The Liberty will play at Prudential Center for the next three seasons while Madison Square Garden is refurbished. From left: Prudential Center Chairman and Managing Partner Jeff Vanderbeek, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Liberty player Cappie Pondexter and MSG Sports President Scott O’Neil.

AEG hosts Urban Football Coaches Association

At the Urban Football Coaches Association’s 20th annual Coaches Clinic presented by Farmers Field and AEG at L.A. Live on May 14 (from left): John Wooten, chairman of the NFL’s Fritz Pollard Alliance; Tim Leiweke, AEG president and CEO; and Tony Wyllie, Washington Redskins EVP of communications.

Intrepid Salute for NASCAR’s France

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France (right) received the Intrepid Salute Award from retired Marine Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell, an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, May 26 at the USS Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City. ESPN and ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer also received the award, presented to corporate and community leaders for their support of military and veterans communities.

WNBA delivers careers panel of Inspiring Women

The WNBA tipped off its WNBA Cares Week of Service with an Inspiring Women Career Panel for students from the Young Women’s Leadership School of Brooklyn on May 23 at Brooklyn’s Williamsburg Community Center. From left: Renee Brown, WNBA chief of basketball operations and player relations; Washington Mystics guard Monique Currie; WNBA President Laurel Richie; Kristin Bernert, MSG Sports VP of marketing and operations, New York Liberty and platform development; and moderator Kristen Shaughnessy of NY1 News.

Big names populate Aspen Institute roundtable

The Aspen Institute sponsored an invitation-only roundtable May 13 in Washington, D.C., about the role of sports in society, specifically to discuss barriers that limit young people from participating in sports and what can be done about it. Front row (from left): Patrick McEnroe, Tab Ramos, Donna de Varona, Apolo Anton Ohno, Henry Cejudo and Mike Richter. Back row: Craig Robinson, Edwin Moses, Benita Fitzgerald Mosely, Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Tom Farrey and Tom McMillen.

Pop Warner hands out awards in Chicago

Pop Warner’s 51st annual All-American Scholastic Banquet took place May 28 in Chicago. From left: Arena Football League Commissioner Jerry Kurz, Warner Award recipient; New York Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara, Pop Warner National College Football Award recipient; Marcus Robinson, former Chicago Bears wide receiver, who accepted the NFL Team of the Year Award on behalf of the Bears; Tammy Williams, Chicago Bandits shortstop, Female Achievement Award recipient; Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte, Inspiration to Youth Award recipient; Pop Warner Little Scholars COO Mary FitzGerald; Pop Warner Little Scholars Executive Director Jon Butler.

College Football Hall of Fame inductees announced

The National Football Foundation announced the 2011 inductees into College Football Hall of Fame on May 17 at the Nasdaq OMX in Times Square. Attending the event (from left): Burke Magnus, ESPN senior vice president for college sports programming; Steve Hatchell, NFF president and CEO; Kit Morris, director of college sports marketing at Nike; and Charles Davis, analyst with NFL Network and Fox Sports.


What I Like …

AN OUT-OF-THE-BOX IDEA: MLB All-Star winner gets home-field advantage in the World Series.

A TIMELESS IDEA: The real-time score graphic on all sports game broadcasts. (Can’t imagine life without it!)

A BUSINESS DEAL: The CBS/Turner NCAA deal … a game changer for college basketball.




A HIRE: Pac-10 hiring Larry Scott and LPGA hiring Mike Whan as commissioners. Both properties went outside to get great talent.

A TREND: Corporate social responsibility becoming a critical element of sponsorship and corporate hospitality activation.

AN INNOVATION: TV graphics like Sportvision in football (field graphics) and ShotLink on the PGA Tour.

A PRO LEAGUE OR TEAM BUSINESS INITIATIVE: MLS team expansion and “First Kick” initiative.

AN IDEA OR INVENTION I WISH I HAD THOUGHT OF: Silly Bandz … my girls have hundreds of them all over the house.

A FANTASY JOB: To be Jim Nantz. I always wanted to be a sports broadcaster.

What I Like About …

SPORTS: It is the great equalizer … whether you are 8 or 80, male or female, you care.

SPORTS BUSINESS: Any time you can mix a love of marketing with the love of sports and get paid for it, it’s a good place to be.

SPORTS MEDIA: Omnipresent. Passionate.

SPORTS TECHNOLOGY: It allows you to experience sports so differently now … imagine it in 10 years.

COMPETING: When you win, there is no better feeling. When you lose, you get up and dig in deeper.

THE FUTURE OF SPORTS BUSINESS: I see nothing but up, up, up as the popularity and accessibility of sport expands. It is a growth stock.

What I Would Like To …

CHANGE: Eliminate penalty kicks in the FIFA World Cup final … play to the last goal scored.

CHANGE IN WHAT I DO: Listen more, be a better leader. Personally, work out more, be a better winemaker, play more golf.

SEE: USA wins the FIFA World Cup. It will happen.

SEE LESS OF IN SPORTS BUSINESS: Corporate procurement divisions.

SEE DIFFERENT: An Olympics opening ceremony under 2 1/2 hours.

What I Don’t Like …

IN SPORTS: Cost of a ticket to everyday games.

IN BUSINESS: Lack of decision making. I know it is said a lot, but there is just too much “paralysis by analysis” in business that can stymie the great idea.

IN GENERAL: The use of the term “no problem” as a replacement for “you’re welcome.” (Since when is gratitude a derivative of a problem?)


What I Like …

PEOPLE: Navy SEALs, teachers, philanthropists, Olympians.

THAT WOULD SURPRISE THOSE WHO KNOW ME: I was going to be an architect, which is the real reason that everyone can read my notes.

ABOVE ALL ELSE: My wife, Kimberly, and two daughters, Madeleine and Mason.

HEROES: My mom, who is a two-time cancer survivor.

PLAYERS: Albert Pujols, Landon Donovan, Lionel Messi.

TEAMS: San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Cardinals (grew up there), University of Illinois (went to school there).

CITY: Cape Town.

POSSESSION: My 1967 230SL Mercedes convertible roadster.

TIME OF YEAR: Fall. Harvest time in the wine country, great weather, start of football.

MUSIC: World beat/Lounge chill on planes … contemporary rock on the ground.

BOOKS: “How Companies Win,” by David Calhoun (Nielsen CEO); “The Gold Standard: Building a World-Class Team,” by Mike Krzyzewski.

GADGETS: iPad (two of them, so I don’t have to fight with my daughters over just one).

CHORES: Cleaning … I am a renowned neat freak.

HOBBIES: Winemaking, golf, tennis, road biking in Dry Creek Valley, gardening.

TRIPS: Weekend journeys to our house in Healdsburg, Calif.; Lake Tahoe; family trips to New York City.

MOVIES: “Bottle Shock,” “Invictus,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” Bourne trilogy movies.

TV: ESPN, “Entourage,” “30 Rock,” “The Big Bang Theory.”

CONCERTS: The Who at our CBS event last year, U2, Coldplay, Dave Matthews.

ARTIST: Wade Hoefer.

FOOD: Give me a perfectly grilled steak and I am happy.

DRINK: My 2008 Sonoma County Zinfandel or 18-year-old Glenmorangie.

VACATION SPOTS: Hawaii, South Africa, Italy and soon … Brazil.

CARS: All German. BMW, Mercedes, Audi.

QUOTE: “The most important name on your uniform is the one on the front of the jersey, not the back.” — John Wooden.