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Volume 21 No. 1

People and Pop Culture

Ripken Baseball hired Colin Clark as assistant vice president of marketing. Clark was brand manager of digital activation at Under Armour.

The Arizona Diamondbacks hired Craig Shipley as assistant to the general manager. Shipley was senior vice president of international scouting for the Boston Red Sox.

Butch Miller stepped down as athletic director of Colorado Mesa University.

Georgia Southern University hired Tom Kleinlein as athletic director. Kleinlein is deputy athletic director at Kent State.

The University of South Dakota Foundation named Jon Schemmel associate athletic director for development. Schemmel was account executive for Coyote Sports Properties.

Maryville University named Kristen Ely assistant director of athletics for student services and compliance and senior women’s administrator. Ely was the women’s volleyball coach and assistant athletic director at Westminster College.


Woods Bagot Sport named Belinda Goh sport design leader. Goh was an associate principal at Populous.

The Charlotte Checkers promoted Thomas Smith to vice president of business development, Eric Bridenstine to vice president of creative services, Danielle Adkins to executive director, charitable foundation/VP of licensing, Nathan Beasley to senior account executive, Elle Bunn to coordinator of marketing and fan development, and Jessica Taylor to director of merchandise and hired Brandon Jetton as account executive, Drew Gehringer as corporate partnerships manager and Jen Yoger as group experience specialist.

The Columbus Blue Jackets named John Davidson president of hockey operations and alternate governor and Pete Olsen staff counsel.

PMI College hired Scott Morton (Santa Clara), Tom Reading (Detroit), Jordan Triphan (Stony Brook), Adam Whitt (Western Kentucky), and Jason Taylor and Jamie Levitt (Ball State) as college athletics managers of ticket programs and fan development, and hired Kati Nelson (ESPN DirecTV Classic), Ian Espada (ESPN Old Spice Classic), Wendell Toliver (ESPN Beef ‘O’Brady’s Bowl), Andrew Cochran (ESPN BBVA Compass Bowl), David Diaz (ESPN Gildan New Mexico Bowl), and Ryan Angle and Daniel Camillo (Military Bowl) as managers of ticket programs and fan development for collegiate events.

Shamrock Sports & Entertainment hired Rob Coppola as vice president of partnerships and analytics.

The Aspire Group promoted Alan Pandiani to team leader for Georgia Tech ticket sales.

Corporate Magic named April Roberts international account manager.

Twitter named Ben Grossman head of global operations for Twitter Media. Grossman was editor-in-chief of Broadcasting & Cable.


The Columbus Crew named Alex Caulfield senior director of communications, Sarah Ozello executive assistant to Crew president and general manager Mark McCullers, Andrew Flynn season ticket account executive and Doug Holmes and Donny Lewis ticket sales representatives.

Sports Commissions and Tourism Boards
San Antonio Sports named Russ Bookbinder president and chief executive officer, replacing Susan Blackwood, who is stepping down. Bookbinder is associate vice chancellor for corporate engagement at Texas Tech University.

The Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance named Michael Robson sports coordinator.

Branding Brand named Jeff Hennion president. Hennion was chief marketing officer and executive vice president of e-commerce for GNC.

The Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management at the Isenberg School of Management, UMass Amherst named Peter Carlisle executive-in-residence. Carlisle is managing director of Octagon’s Olympic and action sports division.

Awards and Boards
Brand Affinity Technologies named Al Weiss to its board of directors. Weiss was president of worldwide operations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

The National Association of Sports Commissions announced Karin Aaron, Lindsay Arellano, Josh Dill, Roy Edmondson, Dave Plevich and Justin Stine have earned the Certified Sports Event Executive designation.

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.

The Breeders’ Cup completed its two-day championship event earlier this month at Santa Anita Park in the Los Angeles area, and Peter Rotondo, vice president of media and entertainment, sees some positive trends developing as the event heads into its 30th year..

This year we have a lot of the champions who are going to come back and run. Fort Larned, the winner of the Classic, is going to come back and run next year. Royal Delta, who has won the Ladies’ Classic the last two years, she is going to come back and run. So I think it helps to have stars. We need our stars to run a little more.

The celebrity factor:
It’s amazing, in horse racing, just this year, at the Breeders’ Cup, Joe Torre owned the favorite in the Classic. Jim Rome won a Breeders’ Cup race. Rick Pitino had a horse running in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint. Wes Welker was going to have a horse running in the Breeders’ Cup, but the horse ran the week before and won at Keeneland. Drew Brees had a horse running in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon, the favorite, but the horse was scratched at the last second.

Sports personalities now love the ponies: In the old days, you had golf. But now they are getting into horse ownership and we have a considered effort, if they show any interest at all, to make sure they have a great time at the races. And our board of directors is 100 percent behind it. Michael Strahan was at the Breeders’ Cup this year. Brandon Lloyd and Steven Jackson were both there, they had a bye week. They are like new fans we are trying to cultivate. They showed an interest. We got them out there. And they had an amazing time.

On the digital front: We re-did our website. We also came out with a mobile app for the iPhone and the iPad, and that has been downloaded in 63 countries. You were able to watch the Breeders’ Cup live from your iPhone from our app. It had a wagering calculator. You could put in your ZIP code and it could tell you where to go bet. It was really interactive and it was a valuable tool. We launched Fantasy ‘Capping [an online game like fantasy football where fans compete against one another by picking horses in the weekend’s big races] and it was more fantasy wagering than anything.

Hospitality and sales and marketing firm Legends recently hired John Ruzich as senior vice president and general counsel. Ruzich joins the company after serving as senior vice president of business and legal affairs/general counsel for DreamWorks Classics. Ruzich began his legal career as a staff attorney for the New Jersey Devils and has spent time at World Wrestling Entertainment as associate counsel. He spoke with SportsBusiness Journal staff writer Anna Hrushka.

Age: 38.
New title: Senior vice president and general counsel, Legends.
Previous title: Senior vice president of business and legal affairs/general counsel at DreamWorks Classics.
First job: Stock boy at 7-Eleven.
Education: B.S., communications, University of Miami (1996); St. Thomas University School of Law (1999).
Resides: Fort Lee, N.J.
Grew up: Pearl River, N.Y.
Executive most admired: Lou Lamoriello, New Jersey Devils.
Brand most admired: Apple. “Coming out of the bad hurricane here, the Apple devices were ones that allowed me to stay in touch with the real world and be able to continue to do work without having electricity.”
Favorite vacation spot: Napa Valley, Calif.
Last book read: “When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi,” by David Maraniss.
Last movie seen: Anniversary screening of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
Favorite movie: “Miracle.”
Favorite musician/band: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

What will be the biggest challenge in your new position?
Whenever you start working for a new organization there’s an inherent learning curve — just trying to understand what’s going on. And then the second piece is, this organization, what really made it attractive to me is it has a lot of very interesting opportunities and unbelievable room to grow. They have the foundation with the Yankees and the Cowboys and other venues and entities that they work with.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
Being part of the 2000 Stanley Cup championship team with the Devils. Lou Lamoriello was the first person who gave me the opportunity to be a sports lawyer, and I was fortunate enough to be a part of that team and enjoy that experience.

What is your biggest professional disappointment?
Over the years I was very fortunate to have some opportunities presented to me to join some organizations that eventually went on to win a championship. Like anyone else, you always second-guess yourself about the opportunities that you missed.

What is the biggest risk you've taken in your career?
When I transitioned to entertainment for several years. Although it’s a very similar business model, it was a departure from my comfort zone in sports.

What career advice do you have for people wanting into the sports industry?
I think some people misuse the term “networking,” which seems to be a self-interested way of getting things from others. I think it’s about building genuine relationships and actually focusing on helping others more. People in this industry see through fakeness, and I think if you have meaningful relationships you’ll have meaningful bonds with people and they’ll help you accomplish everything you want in your career.

What is the one element you would like to see changed about the sports industry?
I really would prefer if the fans focused less on the economics of the game such as player salaries and salary caps and more on the actual games and experience. Just thinking back to my childhood I remember going to games and worrying about statistics of home runs and RBIs or touchdowns and not what one person’s cap hit is or whether a certain team is over the luxury tax threshold.


  odays advertising industry headlines are:
More channels and more opportunities to engage consumers. It’s incumbent upon us as partners of great brands to sort through that clutter and formulate big ideas that drive growth.

A lot more of our communication is not just sending a message, but providing consumers the tools to carry that message forth. If you do that artfully, you can give consumers the power to carry the message for you.

Hiring and retaining talent is the essence of our business. I will take an overachiever who fits our values over someone who is intellectually smarter that doesn’t fit our values any day. I make decisions very quickly. When I meet someone, I will know within five or 10 minutes whether the lights are on. If I can look in someone’s eyes and feel their energy, they’re halfway home.

Healthy paranoia is an important quality. We’re not a small agency, so the biggest danger is complacency. I worry that my clients are always in need. It borders on an unhealthy paranoia, but that’s OK. Healthy paranoia is a great accelerant to success.

The Olympics were unique this year. The best creative work is driven by a sense of purpose and is inextricably linked to the platform. I saw more brands than ever using what’s unique about Olympics — that intersection of humanity and performance — and using that as important platforms.

People are moving through their lives at 100 miles an hour, so you have to believe that mobile is perhaps the most vital developing medium. If you can, give consumers relevant content in the context of how they move through their lives. Sports are a great example of that — it’s a big reason for people to check their smartphones. Sports are inherently social, they are a catalyst to driving passion and they are obviously a currency that keeps escalating in venue. You never want to be even three minutes behind an important sports event.

I manage with compassion. My heart’s on my sleeve. I expect a lot, but also respect the power of we over me. It’s OK to make a mistake, but getting caught by surprise is the very worst thing anyone can experience. As a leader, you’ve got to be sleeves rolled up, sitting with the troops at a minimum.

I was never an athlete, but I was the manager of the Dartmouth hockey team. I got in for one shift against Harvard, like the story of “Rudy” and got my clock cleaned. But being the manager did prepare me for a career in advertising, because it was all about preparation. It sounds simple, but people move so fast now, they often forget about the basics.

You can’t get everything done in a day that you want to, so one of my more recent learnings is to try to do fewer things better.

My meetings are usually loud and high octane. They can be messy, but they work. We’re too meeting-crazy in this business, so we’ve tried to limit them. Oftentime meetings that last an hour could have been done in 10 minutes.

I get a lot of ideas on the train to work. I’m hearing what people say about pop culture, picking up on their cues about life. It’s a great melting pot of culture, business, people, and politics.

My CFO once told me the two most important points about negotiating are don’t offer up anything and don’t make any jokes. I can’t help but do both, so it’s impossible for me to be a great negotiator.

I got my most indispensable piece of business advice when I was promoted to president/CEO in 2004. [FedEx ad director] Steve Pacheco sent me a single index card in a FedEx envelope that said, “Don’t become a D__.” That’s a gem, so I’ve tried to live that way.

I’m online when I get up. I’m a weather junkie, so after I check my emails, I go to and Then it’s on to,, I check my Tweetdeck and go to my Facebook page. Then I am out the door — usually without breakfast. On the train, I read hard copies of the New York Post, Page Six; The New York Times, Business/Sports section; and The Wall Street Journal, which I usually read from the inside out.

I love the energy of New York City, and loved living there, even though I am a diehard Red Sox fan. But there’s another side of me that needs to decompress, so I live in the ’burbs, where I can walk my two black Labs for relaxation. Otherwise, I’d be that proverbial candle in the wind.