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Volume 21 No. 2

People and Pop Culture

The San Antonio Spurs promoted Sean Marks to director of basketball operations and Austin Toros general manager and Brian Pauga to director of scouting, and named Matt Meiners manager of statistical development, Brandon James manager of basketball administration and Trajan Langdon pro scout.

The United States Football League named C.J. Olivares and Robert Graff to its board of advisers.


The Aspire Group named Andrew Boyd and Ben Graham sales consultants of the Fan Relationship Management Center for Georgia Tech and Jamie Clarke manager of the Fan Relationship Management Center for Football League One’s Coventry City.

Damon Haley stepped down as managing partner of Urban Marketing Corp. of America.


Scout Sports and Entertainment promoted Zachary Hochster to account coordinator and hired Carrie Skillman as account supervisor. Skillman was an account executive at Momentum Worldwide.

Livestream named Mindy Lyons brand sales account executive.

Comcast Sports Net Mid-Atlantic named Benjie Kaze executive producer and promoted Tim McDonough to senior producer. Kaze was senior coordinating producer for FSN Rocky Mountain.

Univision named Steve Mandala executive vice president for advertising sales. Mandala was executive vice president of cable entertainment ad sales at NBC Universal.

The West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame board of directors named Bryan Sperber, president of Phoenix International Raceway, as president. The board added Bill McAnally to its membership.

Sporting Goods and Apparel
Joseph Schneider and David Carlson are stepping down as president and chief executive, and executive vice president and chief financial officer of LaCrosse Footwear.

Under Armour named Leanne Fremar senior vice president and executive director for its women’s division. Fremar was creative director at Theory.

Nike named Nicole Hubbard marketing director for the U.K. and Ireland.

Witt/Kieffer hired Dan Beebe to serve as of counsel for its Sports Leadership Practice. Beebe was commissioner for the Big 12 Conference.

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.

Mickelson chips for dough

Hall of Fame golfer Phil Mickelson lines up a shot during the KPMG Chip4Charity event on the field at halftime of the NFL game between the Denver Broncos and the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mickelson’s shot Oct. 15 missed a five-foot target that would have resulted in a $1 million donation to the charity First Book, but his effort still won the group a $50,000 donation.

Full stage at WSF gala

Women’s Sports Foundation President Laila Ali speaks at the 33rd annual Salute to Women in Sports Gala with female Olympians, Paralympians and GoGirlGo! girls. The event was Oct. 17 at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City.

ACC Media Day at ESPN U

The ACC’s men’s basketball coaches, gathered for Media Day at ESPNU headquarters in Charlotte on Oct. 17, posed for a photo with ESPN and ESPNU broadcasters.

Sports at Lunch in Phoenix

The Phoenix Regional Sports Commission recently hosted its quarterly Sports at Lunch, featuring Phoenix Suns President Jason Rowley and President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby. The question-and-answer session included a discussion related to the business side of basketball. From left: Babby, Sports Commission interim President Rob Yowell, Sports Commission past chairman of the board Don Kile, and Rowley.

PGA Tour honored

At the Skin Cancer Foundation Gala on Oct. 9 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City: PGA Tour SVP of human resources Allison Keller and tour Chairman Victor Ganzi. Keller accepted a Skin Sense Award for the tour, honoring its work in educating about skin health.

Univision Deportes ready for road to Cup

At Univision Deportes’ Road to the World Cup event Oct. 16 in New York City (from left): Christopher Botta of SportsBusiness Journal; Felix Fernandez, co-host of Univision’s “Republica Deportiva”; Cobi Jones, former MLS star and midfielder for the U.S. national team; Juan Carlos Rodriguez, president of Univision Deportes; Reinaldo Padua, AVP of Hispanic marketing at Cola-Cola; Manolo Zubiria, director of marketing and TV at CONCACAF; Keith Turner, president of sales and marketing at Univision; and Fernando Fiore, co-host of “Republica Deportiva.”

NBA aligns with Yao

NBA Commissioner David Stern and Yao Ming held a news conference Oct. 14 before Game 2 of the China Games in Shanghai to announce that the NBA will support the biannual basketball game in China benefiting Yao’s charity foundation, starting next year. From left: Yao, Stern and NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver.

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.

Don Smolenski, in his first year as Philadelphia Eagles president, went through his12-hour game-day routine on a perfect fall day Oct. 14 as the Eagles played host tothe Detroit Lions. SportsBusiness Journal Editor-at-Large Terry Lefton followed him in andaround Lincoln Financial Field on a day when Smolenski connected with fans as well as withnearly every aspect of the team’s business operations.

All text and photos by Terry Lefton

Mike Snee, most recently the executive director of Minnesota Hockey and a former sales director of the NHL Wild, started work in September as the new executive director of College Hockey Inc. Founded in 2010, the group aims to promote the sport at the NCAA Division I level, encouraging elite young players to pursue on-ice careers that include college hockey. Snee talked about the challenges and changes facing the college game, including the addition next year of Big Ten hockey and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

Photo by: MIKE DOYLE
Changes in the conference structure mean our fans will be seeing different matchups as new rivalries develop. … We are also challenged geographically. Hockey participation is growing throughout the country, and some areas — California, Arizona, Texas — are producing talented players, but there aren’t any schools sponsoring Division I hockey in those states. Expansion in those areas is an exciting prospect, but there are many challenges for athletic departments to add additional sports.

What the NHL lockout means to college hockey’s business:
In the short term, I guess the optimist in me says it might lead to more attention for the college game. But I don’t see a lockout as a benefit for anyone involved in hockey at any level. I hope the NHL is back on the ice as soon as possible.

Story lines to watch this season in college hockey: I’m excited to see who might be this year’s Ferris State, Union or RIT — schools that may not be household names but have reached the Frozen Four and put themselves in the spotlight in recent years. At Boston College, Jerry York is just 12 wins shy of becoming the winningest coach in college hockey history.

The sports business issue he’s following: I’m fascinated by the growth of soccer in North America, particularly the way that MLS franchises like Seattle, Portland and Toronto have been able to build large, passionate followings in just a few years and create such a tremendous atmosphere at their games. It’s similar to what we see with student sections and pep bands in college hockey, but it’s really remarkable in pro sports, at least in North America.

A family rink: I live in Minneapolis and take full advantage of our beautiful winter weather by building a backyard ice rink. I’ve done it for five years, and each year I get a little better at the craft. I have three young children, and they spend a lot of time on the rink. Hockey anywhere is wonderful, but it’s a little extra special when it is in your own backyard.

NASCAR hired a longtime executive from the Chicago Bulls to lead its track services division.

Jeff Wohlschlaeger spent 19 years with the Bulls as the director of game operations. He will join NASCAR’s industry services group, a 15-member team that serves as a liaison between the sanctioning body and the sport’s teams, tracks and drivers.

Wohlschlaeger will be the managing director of event services and report to Jill Gregory, NASCAR vice president of industry services. He will be based in Daytona and oversee the four-person track service division, which will work to help tracks improve the event experience by doing everything from helping secure drivers for autograph sessions to making recommendations about improving driver introductions before races.

“We’ve brought him in to bring a different perspective, some new ideas and some different experience with other sports and entertainment events, so that we can work with tracks to make the race-day experience the best it can be,” Gregory said.

Wohlschlaeger joins an industry services team that has tripled in size over the last two years. The division was started in 2007 to help support teams by serving as a direct contact for them at NASCAR and providing research and data collected by the sanctioning body. It added a track-services group in 2009 and is in the process of adding a driver-services group.

Gregory is searching for a managing director of driver services to lead that group. The group is critical to NASCAR’s goal of improving drivers’ awareness levels nationally, a goal outlined in the organization’s five-year action plan designed to address key issues facing the sport. That position will be based in Charlotte.

“We want to provide as many resources as we can to our drivers and tracks, the same way we do with teams,” Gregory said.

NASCAR has hired several executives over the years with connections to the Bulls and Chicago White Sox, both of which are owned by Jerry Reinsdorf. Eric Nyquist, vice president of strategic development; Marc Jenkins, vice president of digital media; and Betsy Grider, senior director of strategic marketing, all worked for those organizations.