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Volume 21 No. 1

People and Pop Culture

Storytellers, entrepreneurs, risk-takers and colorful personalities make up the 2012 class of The Champions: Pioneers & Innovators in Sports Business, an award from SportsBusiness Journal/Daily recognizing the architects and builders of sports. Each of these individuals will be honored during a special ceremony at the IMG World Congress of Sports, March 20-21, in Laguna Nigel, Calif.

This year’s recipients are licensing pioneer Bill Battle, TV visionary Don Ohlmeyer, NFL Films’ storyteller Steve Sabol, facility and team entrepreneur Ed Snider, college sports executive trailblazer Judy Sweet and longtime motorsports promoter Humpy Wheeler.
Each was selected for their achievements and body of work throughout their careers.


Quite simply, Battle was a visionary in seeing the potential in sports licensing. The Alabama native had a successful playing career at the University of Alabama and was a part of Bear Bryant’s first national championship team. In 1966, he went on to the University of Tennessee and was an assistant coach for four years until he was named head coach in 1970, becoming the youngest college head coach in the country. After leaving coaching, he focused on the business side and sensed a void in sports licensing. He founded Battle Enterprises in 1981 and signed Bryant to a licensing agreement, while the University of Alabama signed on as the first university client to his Collegiate Licensing Co. He later became the exclusive licensing representative for NASCAR and the PGA Tour. He served as CLC president and CEO until 2002, when he turned the day-to-day operations over to his son, Pat. In 2007, CLC was acquired by IMG for a reported $100 million.


Ohlmeyer has been one of the most influential forces in sports television over the last 40 years. He started his career at ABC Sports, where Roone Arledge served as his mentor in working on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” and later as the first producer of “Monday Night Football.” He went on to create “The Superstars” series and produced and directed three Olympic Games for ABC, including the tragedy-marred Munich Olympics in 1972. He later ran NBC Sports for five years and then set out with his own production company, Ohlmeyer Communications. He returned to produce “Monday Night Football” for one more season and served as ombudsman of ESPN for nearly two years. A charismatic personality with a great eye for talent and stories, Ohlmeyer has been honored with 16 Emmys, including the Lifetime Achievement Award and two Peabody Awards. He has been inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.


Sabol brings a filmmaker’s eye to the Champions class, serving as president and one of the founding members of NFL Films. He began working at NFL Films as a cameraman for his father, Ed Sabol, in 1964 and served mostly in that capacity through the 1970s. He worked alongside his father to develop NFL Films’ signature style, and pioneered such groundbreaking programs as “Inside the NFL.” He later became an on-air talent after ESPN worked with NFL Films as the network’s production company. Sabol and NFL Films worked with HBO Sports in 2001 to launch the critically acclaimed “Hard Knocks” reality series. Sabol’s work has been praised — and set a model for sports films — for years. His gifted eye for storytelling led to him winning 27 Emmys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also received the Pete Rozelle and Lamar Hunt awards for his contributions to the NFL, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Daniel F. Reeves Pioneer Award.


Snider brought an entrepreneurial mind-set to the sports business in Philadelphia. He emerged as a leader in the market in 1967, when he founded the Flyers and brought the team to the city, where it began playing that fall. He was the driving force behind the construction of the Spectrum and assumed control of the building in 1971. He saw the opportunity for a larger sports management company and, in 1974, he created Spectacor to oversee the Flyers and Spectrum. Over the next 20 years, he turned Spectacor into a national company serving the sports and entertainment marketplace. In 1996, Snider merged Spectacor with the Comcast Corp. to form Comcast-Spectacor. The new venture initially consisted of the Flyers, Philadelphia 76ers, Wells Fargo Center, The Spectrum and the Philadelphia Phantoms. Comcast-Spectacor then joined with the Philadelphia Phillies to form Comcast SportsNet. Most recently, Comcast-Spectacor developed Global Spectrum, an international facilities management company; Ovations Food Services, an international concessions company; New Era Tickets.


Sweet broke barriers throughout her respected career in intercollegiate athletics. In 1975, she became one of the first women in the nation selected to direct a combined men’s and women’s intercollegiate athletics program when she led the University of California, San Diego, where she served for 24 years. She served on more than 20 NCAA committees, was elected secretary-treasurer of the NCAA in 1989 and, in 1991, was elected to a two-year term as membership president, becoming the first woman to serve in each of those positions. She most recently served as NCAA senior vice president for championships and education services, retiring in 2006. During her tenure at the NCAA, Sweet’s responsibilities included oversight for 84 NCAA championships and serving as a primary contact for Title IX and gender equity initiatives.


Wheeler has been one of the most colorful personalities in all of sports business. After graduating from the University of South Carolina, he worked at Darlington Raceway before being hired in 1975 to run Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he became known as one of the most successful promoters in racing. He became president of Speedway Motorsports Inc. in 1994, and over the years he and Bruton Smith worked to build and acquire tracks and grow the footprint of NASCAR. Wheeler left SMI and formed motorsports management firm The Wheeler Co. in 2008 with his son and daughter. Wheeler was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

SportsBusiness Journal/Daily will profile each of these honorees and tell their impressive stories in our March 26 issue. In addition, the six Champions will be honored at the World Congress of Sports during a luncheon and subsequent panel discussion, where they will discuss their careers and their views on the business of sports, including how it has changed over the years.

The 2010 class of Champions: Tony Ponturo, Jim Host, Donna Lopiano, Jerry Colangelo, Neal Pilson and Ron Labinski.
The 2011 class of Champions: Deane Beman, Alan Rothenberg, Val Ackerman, Bill Rasmussen, Barry Frank and Marvin Miller (below).

The Cleveland Indians promoted Derek Falvey to director of baseball operations for player personnel and acquisitions and named David Stearns director of baseball operations for contracts, strategy and analysis.

The Los Angeles Dodgers promoted Vance Lovelace to director of professional personnel and Rick Ragazzo to director of pro scouting.

The Tampa Bay Rays promoted Chaim Bloom and Erik Neander to director of baseball operations and James Click to director of baseball research and development.

The New Orleans Hornets promoted Lindsey Mitchell to corporate communications manager and Calder Hynes to basketball communications coordinator.

The Philadelphia 76ers named Tom Lamaine PA announcer for home games and promoted Matt Cord to senior correspondent.

The Atlantic Coast Conference named Brad Hostetter associate commissioner of compliance and governance. Hostetter was the NCAA director of academic and membership affairs.

Bradley University named Heidi Wegmueller assistant athletic director for external affairs. Wegmueller was a senior account executive for the PGA of America.

Eastern Connecticut State University appointed Jeff Konin athletic director, effective July 2.

Muhlenberg College named Corey Goff athletic director.

Pac-12 Enterprises named Bob Keyser vice president of university relations.

The University of Texas-Arlington named Jim Baker athletic director. Baker was University of Texas associate athletic director.

AEG named Mike Tomon senior vice president of premium sales for AEG Global Partnerships. Tomon was vice president of sales for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Chicago Rush hired Roger Wexelberg as president and general manager. Wexelberg was the business development manager for the Times Media Co.

The Dallas Cowboys hired John Winborn as chief information officer. Winborn was vice president of information technology for the San Diego Padres.

The Kansas City Chiefs named Bill Chapin senior vice president of business operations. Chapin held the same position for the Seattle Sounders FC.


Golf Channel hired Andrew Smiley as coordinating director, Jessica Batchelor as an on-air planner and Javier Zapata as senior graphic designer. Smiley was director of studio directing at ESPN, Batchelor worked in programming for Sun Sports and Fox Sports Florida, and Zapata was a senior graphic designer and assistant art director for WTVT in Tampa.


Jason Robins, Melissa Kaplan and Anthony Rizzuto launched Blue Engine Marketing.

Repucom named Shahid Sen and Ed Fitzpatrick executive vice presidents for Asia.

SportsOne named Paul Mardesich executive vice president and chief operating officer. Mardesich previously built and sold

Wasserman Media Group hired Cristi Zuk as manager of social media in the action sports division.

MSG Networks hired Alan Hahn as a studio analyst. Hahn was the New York Knicks beat writer for Newsday.

The Pac-12 Network named Leon Schweir senior vice president of production and operations. Schweir was executive producer and senior vice president of production and planning at Versus and Comcast SportsNet/NBCUniversal.

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.

Another Classic lineup for NHL

Gearing up for today’s Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic are (from left) NHL COO John Collins; NBC’s NHL announcer, Mike “Doc” Emrick; Jon Miller, president of programming, NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network; NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman; NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus; NBC executive producer Sam Flood; Philadelphia Flyers President Peter Luukko; and Adam Graves, former New York Ranger and the team’s special assistant for prospect development and community relations.
Photo by: NBC

Ducks take flight for Breakaway Bar & Grill

Team owner Susan Samueli (with scissors) participates in the ribbon-cutting for the Anaheim Ducks Breakaway Bar & Grill at John Wayne Airport in Anaheim, Calif., on Dec. 13. Flanked by Anaheim Ducks Power Players and mascot Wild Wing, are (left to right): Loan Leblow, John Wayne Airport; Susan Goyette, HMSHost; Samueli; Ducks player Corey Perry; and former player Scott Niedermayer.

For his contributions to hockey

Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider displays his sweater after being inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Dec. 12. With Snider are (from left) Comcast-Spectacor EVP Phil Weinberg and President and COO Peter Luukko and daughter Lindy Snider.

Newest hall of famer

Former NBC Sports & Olympics Chairman Dick Ebersol (with wife Susan Saint James) was among the eight inductees honored by the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame during a Dec. 13 ceremony in New York City. Also inducted were Steve Sabol, Jack Buck, Bill France Jr., Deb Honkus, George Hoover, Mark McCormack and Ron Scalise.

An Octagon guest

Octagon CEO Rick Dudley (left) and President Jeff Shifrin welcome NBA Commissioner David Stern (center) at the company’s meeting on Dec. 15 in Stamford, Conn.
Photo by: OCTAGON

A playground atmosphere

From the Washington Wizards Fan Fest on Dec. 17 at the Verizon Center, (from left) Greg Bibb, EVP, Washington Wizards; rapper Wale; and Wizards guard John Wall.

Baseball class in session

Sports management students from Lynn University (above) and New York University (below) networked with baseball industry executives at the Major League Baseball winter meetings in Dallas Dec. 4-7.


Please submit photos for review of industry conferences, parties, product launches and openings showcasing the people and personalities at the event. Include the event date, location, names/titles of those featured along with credit information. The photo specifications are as follows: 300dpi, tiff, jpeg or eps color images. Submit digital photos for review at: or send color prints to: Faces & Places, c/o Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal, 120 W. Morehead St., Suite 310, Charlotte, NC 28202.

President, marketing, CSE

My hope is that in 2012 teams and leagues recommit themselves to providing family- and female-friendly environments. Fan incivility is a problem as it deters attendance and prevents the next generation of formative fan experiences. Augusta National has it right — act up and forfeit your right to attend — permanently. Personally, my resolution is to continue to remind those in my life how much they mean to me and to strive for personal and professional integrity every day.


Sports business: WTA will establish new revenue, attendance, television and digital milestones in 2012.
Personal: Learn to effectively eat pudding while on my Gazelle Glider (“Holiday Gifts,” SportsBusiness Journal, Dec. 5-11).

Multicultural marketing manager, DeWalt

As a sports fan: I want to see the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao fight come to fruition.
Sports business: I look forward to continue to maximize and leverage our Golden Boy Promotions Boxing Program for DeWalt and overdrive our goals in 2012. I also resolve to balance out my travel and figure out a way to keep my inbox under 200 emails.
Personal: Spend more time with my family and get involved in my children’s sports activities as well as charity and church activities with them. I also resolve to get back in soccer shape and play at least twice a week.

Editor-in-Chief, Golf Digest

“Think Young, Play Hard.” It’s a new mantra we’ve adopted here at Golf Digest that we’re encouraging our readers to seize on as their new approach to life, whether they’re 21 or 91. It’s not about age or swing speed, it’s a way of life — shaken and stirred.
CEO and president, Mizuno USA

Personal: Play more golf, and get my index down from 9.5 back to the 5 it once was. Just got fit for new MP-59 irons with KBS X-Flex shafts and am ready to take on the course! Also want to increase miles from running twice a week for 4-5 miles to three times a week. Was running in the Prophecy, but just switched over to the Wave Rider 15 and love them.
Business: Want to have more customer interface. It is important to stay close to customers in this ever-changing economic climate. Also, at Mizuno we have hired a VP in Latin America and have increased our presence in Brazil, with the Olympics in 2016 and the World Cup in 2014.

President of business operations, Los Angeles Kings

Help more kids via our family charity, Echoes of Hope.

Conrad Smith
COO, Minnesota Lynx

Enjoy our 2011 WNBA championship; continue to focus on building our brand; and see the 15,000 Lynx fans who packed Target Center in the 2011 playoffs on a regular basis next season.

Executive producer/head of programming, Madison Avenue Sports and Entertainment

If possible, I would try to spend more time with my family. It’s easy to take for granted and lose focus of what and who is really important. The business we’ve chosen demands our time, focus and dedication, but we have to make time for those we love.


Sports business: Do my best to “stay in the moment” and not get spread too thin or distracted with things that are not going to make a difference.
Personal: Read more books. It’s often a resolution of mine, but I was recently inspired by listening to Pat Williams (Orlando Magic) talk about reading a book for one hour a day.

President, Chicago Event Management;
Executive race director, Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Since we are celebrating our 35th anniversary, I resolve to make this year’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon a memorable event for all involved — elite athletes, citizen runners and spectators. I also resolve to make my new executive assistant, Siri, earn her money by keeping me better organized.

President, Deep Alliance Marketing

More consistency in writing DeepThoughts blog and more aggressive promotion of the work we’re doing at Deep Alliance Marketing.
Hoping to see some serious thought leadership brought to college athletics. Conference expansion and increased revenue are not helping to solve many underlying issues.

EVP of talent, WWE

My resolution is to continue sharpening my business and corporate skills in my new role as EVP, talent. Although whenever the day-to-day grind of being a company executive gets to me, I still have the opportunity to jump into the ring and take my aggression out on a few unsuspecting opponents.

EVP of creative, WWE

In 2012, my personal goal is to help stop the bullying epidemic that is affecting our children. As a mother of three girls, I am proud to represent the WWE as part of our Be a STAR initiative to help encourage students, teachers and parents to “be a star” by showing tolerance and respect. My professional goal is to help support the launch of the WWE network by providing a 24/7, interactive, creative experience that is worthy of the passion of our fans.


VP of marketing, Korrio

Business: Continue to make Korrio the definitive brand and technology platform for managing your sports life. 2011 was our rookie year and we had a blast introducing the youth soccer community to the benefits of sports automation found within Playflow, Korrio’s web-based sports automation solution. Staying focused and “on brand” as Korrio grows and evolves in the coming months are key resolutions for me.
Personal: I want to keep strong life/work balance. I also want to coach young athletes as much as possible as it makes me better at my job, pleases my girls and keeps me connected with what youth sports is all about — having FUN.

Co-founder, Sheex Inc.

Take yoga classes, run in at least four Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathons, learn how to take time off and manage my BlackBerry better, get more massages and chiropractic adjustments for my own health maintenance, spend time with my basketball coach from Tennessee, Pat Summitt, begin to write my book, find time to do more of my oil paintings, make myself available to do more public speaking and bring some really cool Sheex products to market.


Founder and managing director, Park Lane

As a firm, we would like to fund at least 10-15 early-stage businesses in 2012, and we also expect to advise on four or five larger transactions (i.e., sale or acquisition of a team or sports company). As a team, we always strive to communicate and operate with teamwork and integrity.

Executive director, Lone Star Sports & Entertainment

Continue to make Reliant Stadium a premier venue for college football and international soccer. On a personal front, after spending so much time with our dedicated bowl game volunteers, this is the year for me to find a purposeful volunteer opportunity for myself.

SVP/GM of sports operations, Turner Sports

My personal hope/resolution for 2012 is for our family (a natural foursome) to continue taking golf lessons together and growing our collective love for the game. It’s win-win!

President and co-founder, Home Team Marketing

Focus on what we do well, and keep everything else on the sideline. We can’t do everything, so I vow to simply focus on those simple things we do very well and commit to being the best.


VP, Group Account Director, GMR Marketing

Sports business: A return to a healthy economy.
Personal: Something other than political ads on television (I know … wishful thinking). Father Time adding more hours to the day. Finding my way back to the gym. And the Packers keeping the Lombardi Trophy in Titletown for another year.

President, Sage Collective

Personal: Convince my husband, MaliVai Washington, to start playing tennis with me again. He stopped because I didn’t listen to him and swore too much on the court.
Business resolution: Keep my desk clean enough to see at least 50 percent of the surface every day.

CEO, Paciolan

For the sports business, I want us to continue to find new ways to bring fans closer to the teams and games they love. On a personal note, I want to spend more time with my family and friends enjoying their fantastic company!

COO, Washington Mystics;
EVP of business operations, Washington Wizards

1. To focus on staff development as much as business development.
2. To go on more “Addy and Daddy dates” with my daughter, Adelyn.
3. To complete another marathon and run 1,200 miles in 2012.

President, Delaware North Sportservice

Sports business: We had a tremendous year with new accounts, the Bruins’ run to the Stanley Cup, and the final four teams in the baseball playoffs, so in 2012, I’d like Sportservice to share more of what we received with local Boys & Girls Clubs and other community organizations.
Personal: I’d like to spend more time mentoring younger people within our organization.