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Volume 21 No. 1

People and Pop Culture

The Atlanta Braves hired Greg Gatti as senior director of information technology. Gatti was chief technology officer for Synovus Financial.

The Los Angeles Dodgers promoted Seth Bluman to vice president of ticket development and David Siegel to vice president of ticket sales.


The Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center hired Hannah Stember as a communications coordinator. Stember was a junior publicist for PMK*BNC.

Bemidji State University named Tracy Dill athletic director. Dill was associate athletic director for St. Cloud State University.

Grace College named Chad Briscoe athletic director. Briscoe was athletic director at Mooresville (Ind.) High School.

Western Oregon University named Barbara Dearing executive athletic director. Dearing was associate athletic director for business and financial operations and senior woman administrator for Portland State University.

Western Illinois University named Julie Gibbes director of compliance.

Manhattan College named Pete McHugh assistant athletic director for athletics communications. McHugh was the communications manager for the New York Health & Racquet Club.

Southeastern University named Drew Watson athletic director.

The University of Missouri promoted Tami Chievous to associate athletic director for academic services.

The University of Tennessee named Mike Vollmar senior associate athletic director for football administration and Joe Scogin assistant provost, director of the Thornton Athletics Student Life Center, and senior associate athletic director. Vollmar was associate athletic director for football at the University of Michigan, and Scogin was the associate athletic director for academic services at the University of Missouri.

Lock Haven University named Mark Sherburne athletic director. Sherburne was assistant athletic director for administration at Penn State University.


Sonoma Raceway promoted Diana Brennan to senior director of media and community relations.

Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway named Greg Rogers director of partnership sales and marketing. Rogers was director of partnerships for Vivid Seats.

Forest City Ratner promoted David Berliner to chief operating officer.

The San Francisco 49ers promoted Joel Patten to director of player personnel, Matt Malaspina to director of college scouting, Mike Williams to director of pro personnel, Justin Chabot to national scout, Steve Rubio to regional scout and Josh Williams to pro personnel scout.

The American Hockey League’s Iowa Wild named Todd Frederickson president. Frederickson was vice president of team business services for the AHL.

The ECHL’s Las Vegas Wranglers named Mike Madill general manager and head coach.

The Aspire Group promoted Rob Titterington to manager at Middle Tennessee State University, Josiah Castro to senior sales consultant at New Mexico State University, and Logan Lewis to manager at Louisiana Tech University.

Interticket USA hired Richard Rodarte as senior director of partnership marketing. Rodarte was director of corporate partnerships and activations at Chivas USA.

Madison Sports Partnerships promoted Caleb Boyd to marketing and sales manager.

Octagon Brazil hired marketing executive Claudio Teixeira.

Repucom named Jenna Fahey business development manager, Kathy Gardner product manager, and Kellyn Klug as account manager.

Twitter Media named Simon Rogers data editor and Bridget Finn media editor.

One World Sports named Joel Feld senior vice president of production and executive producer and Ricardo Venegas chief financial officer. Feld was the executive vice president of programming and producer for NESN, and Venegas was chief financial officer for CloudBurstTV.

Sports Illustrated named Robert Klemko NFL reporter. Klemko was NFL reporter for USA Today.

NASCAR named Gene Stefanyshyn vice president of innovation and racing development. Stefanyshyn was executive director of global product development quality for General Motors.

The Canadian Paralympic Committee named Karen O’Neill chief executive officer, effective June 3. O’Neill is chief executive officer of Field Hockey Canada.

Sacramento Professional Soccer named Graham Smith technical director. Smith is founder and president of First Wave Sports Marketing.

Sporting Goods and Apparel
Respect Your Universe named Craig Brod chief executive officer.

Sports Authority named Paul Okimoto chief marketing officer. Okimoto was vice president of marketing for RadioShack.

Fanatics named Ryan Donovan vice president of marketing. Donovan was the vice president of marketing for NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network.

Puma named Björn Gulden chief executive officer. Gulden was chief executive officer for the jewelry brand Pandora.

Columbia Sportswear named Shawn Cox senior vice president of retail. Cox was the global retail senior vice president for Mexx.

E. Land named Truman Kim chairman, Larry Remington president and chief executive officer, Barney Waters chief marketing officer and Wim Tuijl managing director of Europe, Middle East and Africa for K-Swiss.

Nike named Michael Spillane to vice president and general manager of Nike’s Greater China region.

Awards and Boards
The Golf Writers Association of America elected Ron Sirak of Golf World president, Jeff Babineau of Golfweek first vice president and Gary Van Sickle of Sports Illustrated second vice president. Gary D’Amato of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Ron Green Jr. of Global Golf Post, Dave Shedloski of Golf World, Tod Leonard of the San Diego Union-Tribune and Beth Ann Baldry of Golfweek were named to the board of directors.

The D.C. Sports Hall of Fame inducted Elgin Baylor, Bobby Beathard, Dave Bing, Maurice Collins, Mike Gartner, Phil Hochberg, George Michael, Sam Rice, Bob Wolff and Willie Wood.

ViaSat named Bob Bowman to its board of directors. Bowman is the president and chief executive officer for Major League Baseball Advanced Media.


WWE named Michael Pine senior vice president of global sales and partnership marketing. Pine was vice president of national sales for IMG College.

USA Swimming named Dana Bonner marketing manager, John Martin sports communications manager, Wendy Peel local marketing manager, and Tommy Schield organizational communications specialist.

USA Water Polo promoted James Callahan to chief financial officer, Greg Mescall to director of communications and Caroline Acosta to marketing manager.

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.

Knight’s a hall of famer

Nike co-founder Phil Knight was among seven people inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame at a ceremony and dinner April 29 at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City. Above: The inductees and reps from McDonald’s, which is this year’s corporate honoree (from left): Phil Knight, Bob Giraldi of Giraldi Media, Shelly Lazarus of Ogilvy & Mather, Gerry Rubin of RPA, Bob Scarpelli of DDB Worldwide, Rance Crain of Crain Communications, Neil Golden of McDonald’s USA, Kevin Newell of McDonald’s USA, and Byron Lewis Sr. of UniWorld Group. Below: Phil Knight with Wendy Clark of The Coca-Cola Co. and Dan Wieden of longtime Nike agency Wieden & Kennedy

SEC, ESPN power up

At the news conference in Atlanta on May 2 announcing the new TV network and digital platform from the Southeastern Conference and ESPN that will launch in August 2014 (from left): Justin Connolly, ESPN SVP; SEC Commissioner Mike Slive; Jeff Weber, AT&T president of content and advertising; and ESPN President John Skipper. AT&T U-verse signed on as the network’s first national distributor.

Super job in Indy

Indiana Sports Corp. President Allison Melangton, CEO and president of the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee, accepts Sports Circle Indy’s 2012-13 Event of the Year Award at a luncheon April 25 at the Columbia Club in Indianapolis. Presenting the award is Bill Benner, senior associate commissioner of the Horizon League and Sports Circle Indy board member.

Going ‘Flat Out’ at NewFront

At AOL’s NewFront Presentation in New York City on April 30 (from left): Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL; Larry Tanz, CEO of Vuguru; and Zane Stoddard, NASCAR VP of entertainment marketing and business development. “Flat Out,” a NASCAR and Vuguru co-production, will premiere on AOL On Network later this year.

New college football  honorees

The National Football Foundation announced the 2013 inductees into the College Football Hall of Fame on May 7 at the Nasdaq OMX in New York City (from left): ESPN analyst Rece Davis, Nasdaq OMX Vice President J.R. Mastroianni, Arizona inductee Tedy Bruschi, Florida inductee Danny Wuerffel and National Football Foundation President and CEO Steve Hatchell.

Comcast Cares day in Philadelphia

More than 300 local Comcast employees and their families and friends helped improve the Community Farm and Food Resource Center at Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia on April 27 as part of the 12th Comcast Cares Day. From left: Stephen Burke, NBCUniversal and Comcast Corp.; Brian Monihan, Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia; Tom Firmani, Comcast Cable; Eric Lerner, NBC10 Philadelphia; Maitreyi Roy, John Bartram Association; Drew Becher, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society; Jacqueline London, NBC10 Philadelphia; D’Arcy Rudnay, Comcast Corp.; Brian Roberts, Comcast Corp.; and Irv Harkavy, Netter Center for Community Partnerships, University of Pennsylvania.

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.

Farmers Insurance didn’t create a sponsorship department until 2008. In the five years since then, the company has gone from having no real presence in sports to sponsoring a PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines and golfer Rickie Fowler; Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 5 car and driver Kasey Kahne; and AEG’s planned NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles. Leslie Withoft, who has been at Farmers since 1988, is responsible for overseeing the company’s sponsorships as its director of sponsorships and event marketing.

— Compiled by Tripp Mickle


What makes for a good pitch is looking for those interesting angles: something more than a ticket package and media dollars.

Evaluating deals:
We have to look and see if it’s a fit for the organization: If it marries up to something that fits for us culturally, if it fits with something from a national perspective, if there are opportunities to activate on a local level with agents.

Understanding return on investment: That is the magic, and it’s extremely difficult to prove in sponsorship. When you’re talking advertising, there are definitive ROI numbers. With sponsorships, we’re doing digital, social media, at-track events; right now, there’s no set measurement. Everyone is trying to tell you they have a proprietary formula to measure that, but nothing’s been proven out.

Different with insurance: We’re trying to put systems in place to track people all the way through. That’s tough to do when you sell a service. It’s not like tracking Pepsi products or oil filter sales. It could take six months to sell [an insurance] policy. We try very hard to figure out a way here from our corporate offices to help our agents in the field.

A good pitch: It’s about unique ways to engage with consumers and fans. I’ve seen pitches where they put the wrong names of companies; they just give you a PowerPoint. We’ve had other insurance companies put in rather than Farmers. People have to really look at the marketplace and determine new and unique ways to activate the sponsorship. Tickets and hospitality aren’t unique any more; it’s “How can we make your organization stand out? What are important objectives to you?”

What makes a good endorser: It’s someone who is a good role model. You look at Kasey [Kahne]. He’s passionate about his sponsors. He’s well-respected in his sport. He’s a team player who’s respectful and dedicated to what he’s doing. You know what he’s going to do. You see some athletes and you don’t know what they’re going to do.

The state of NASCAR: There’s been a lot more talk about NASCAR today. NASCAR’s done a good job of telling its story. A lot more of my peer group have been talking about the races and watching the races. As a sponsor, I’m excited about the results we’ve been seeing. Our results with our program have been good. We’ve gone heavy on a digital perspective.


critical as a leader to make people feel included, to allow people to make suggestions, to share their thoughts, share their ideas. … When all the people who work for you or around you, when they all feel part of that process, it invariably leads to a much more successful outcome.

My philosophy is to hire the best people. Pay them a little more if necessary. Give them full authority and hold them accountable.

The first time Tod Leiweke and I got together was for the Winter Olympics. We had a couple of beers. We spent about an hour and a half talking about community and giving back.

In traditional owner-CEO relations, I don’t think equity has been a part of the equation, but it’s critical the person I want to be a partner with has the same objectives and goals that I do. Granting that person a little stake in the business is really a very effective means of having both of us on the same page.

When I left Fidelity (to start Vinik Asset Management), virtually everyone I hired I had known previously. I took the people who had the highest integrity, ethics, intelligence, frankly not yellers. I always thought of our company as nice guys who could work together with others.

I think of myself as an artist. I don’t act like an artist. I have a blank canvas and I want to be able to paint on it. The mutual fund business only lets you have a little piece of that canvas to paint on because it’s 100 percent invested in stock. At a hedge fund with the whole canvas, I can be short, I can buy bonds.

I get asked [for investment advice] a lot, and I have a hard time with it. Diversification is always critical. Trying not to buy at the top of a fad or trend.

The most critical thing you do for your kids is model good behavior. If I treat the waiter well and with respect, hopefully my kids will say please and thank you and if the waiter makes a mistake or is slow, they will treat the waiter with respect. I like to think that helps shape kids. My parents modeled excellent behavior.

I like to see tangible results [when I give money for] helping people. I may be a little bit too literal, but dollars per person. I think the Gates Foundation has done an amazing job, whether it’s malaria or other things, where for $50 a person you save a life.

At Harvard Business School, something like 40 percent of the students were engineers. Out of engineering, half the students go into business. The engineering school [at Duke University] prepared me so well to analyze problems.

In life, you get a ton of data and you have to decide what’s important and not important, put it all together, reach a conclusion and make a decision. That’s almost the purpose of higher education overall.
The case method at Harvard Business School is absolutely terrific. You’re learning all these businesses and the way they operate and how they handle marketing and operations and accounting. By seeing dozens if not hundreds of case examples … you learn so much that you don’t know you’re learning.

I’ve hired a number of senior-level people over the last three years. One thing I like to do is go out to dinner with their wives and my wife. Why do I do that? I want to see the way they treat their wife and the way they treat the waiter.

The other part of hiring is you get a lot of views of him. Let a lot of people interview him or her. Let them ask questions and come at the person from different angles and collect everybody’s input.

The Fenway Sports Group and knowing owners of other sports teams in Boston very much gave me confidence in buying the Lightning because I saw that strong management and strong ownership makes a difference.

Our not immodest goal is to be the Green Bay Packers of the NHL. Will we get there? I don’t know. Will it take 60 years? I don’t know. But that’s the direction we’re trying to get to. The people of Green Bay love their team and everything it stands for, and we want our fans to believe in us and what we’re doing in the community.

The financial markets are driven by emotion: greed and fear. If you’re emotional, you’re often going to be doing things backwards and buying high and selling low.

At hockey games, I’m pretty quiet.

The hockey world can be very frustrating. Someone goes down with a knee injury. You lose a few games. But that’s part of the deal and part of the process that happens with sports. I’m not going to get so churned up inside that it’s not good for myself or the franchise, and I like the people who I have working with me to feel the same way.

Sports organizations are jewels of the community, part of the social fabric of the community, and it’s critical that we foster that.

I can’t say I’ve ever had a mentor. I can’t say I’ve had someone say, “Here’s my advice for your career,” and a light bulb went off. I haven’t had that moment.

I’ve learned more from Tod Leiweke as a leader and CEO than any other leader I’ve been around.

Learn everything you can about the opportunity ahead of you. When I decided to buy a hockey team, the next day I bought two or three sports business textbooks and spent the next six months learning everything I could about the business of sports and hockey. I educated myself for six months.

I read about sports and stock markets. I wish I had time to read books.