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Volume 20 No. 42

People and Pop Culture

Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

“I need an integrator,” Dennis Mannion said. “A master integrator.”

On the other end of the phone, Len Perna’s mental Rolodex started spinning.

It was September 2011. Nine months after leaving his position as COO of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Mannion had been hired as president and CEO of the Detroit Pistons. He arrived at the Palace of Auburn Hills to find that, in many ways, time had stopped in 1990.

Sports franchises that win championships tend to keep doing things in the ways that made them successful. That explained why the Pistons’ arena looked much as it had when it opened in 1988, the team’s first championship season, with later titles following in the 1989-90 and 2003-04 seasons. The business side was still arranged in fiefdoms, a relic of an era when marketing and sales staffs didn’t need to talk to each other.

Turnkey Search executives meet to discuss candidates for the Pistons opening (clockwise from left): Morgan Lewis, Len Perna, Carolyne Savini, Diana Busino and Bryan Lick.
Mannion has been a creative force throughout a career that has spanned franchises in the four major sports. Before the Dodgers, he had worked for the Phillies, the Avalanche and the Ravens, climbing the ladder. He’d come to believe that integration was vital to generating creative energy — and, from there, the incremental revenue that creates economic success. He had a plan to reorganize the Pistons’ corporate structure, but he needed someone atop each discipline capable of uniting disparate skill sets into a coherent whole.

Someone out there, in professional sports or the world beyond, was just the integrator he sought. But Mannion didn’t have the time, nor the wherewithal, to find that person. And though the process of using a search firm isn’t foolproof, as the recent events at Rutgers have shown, he liked his odds of making the right hire by using one far better than trying to do it alone.

So he called Perna, whose Turnkey Sports & Entertainment is a player in the growing field of sports executive search and recruiting. Mannion had worked with other firms over the years, but none as often as Turnkey. “I like the way Len works,” he said. “I just feel very comfortable with his process.”

The fit between an executive commissioning a search and the recruiter doing it can be as important as the fit between the eventual candidates and the position they’re looking to fill. “If you don’t have the right fit on the front end,” Mannion stressed, “you won’t get it on the back end.”

The executive search industry started in the 1950s and came of age on Wall Street in the ’60s. “From there, it spread to the corporate world,” said Bob Beaudine of Eastman & Beaudine, whose father, Frank, was an industry pioneer. Bob Beaudine became one of the first to spin off sports searches.

Beaudine understood that franchise valuations had grown too high for a team executive to simply sift through the stack of résumés that had come in over the transom, or wander down the hall to find someone to promote. What had been a small business with enormous social impact had matured. “The biggest change over the past 20 years is that owners today are already CEOs,” he said. “They’re people who are very successful owning businesses.”

When successful businessmen and entrepreneurs become owners, often by buying out families that may have owned a team for several decades, the best practices of the corporate world usually come with them. That includes executive search. Since investment-banking billionaire Tom Ricketts bought the Chicago Cubs in late 2009, the team has used search firms to fill multiple positions — from a vice president of marketing to a head of human resources — after previously not using them at all under the Tribune Co.

“We’re taking the business from a slow-moving, less-dynamic place under the old ownership to one where we want to innovate and create some new revenue opportunities,” said Crane Kenney, the president of business operations. “I didn’t want to hire another sports marketer who was going to bring the playbook they used with some other team to Chicago. I wanted someone who’d cut their teeth in a different field. Using search firms helped me find them.”

Once a Wall Street lawyer, Perna abandoned that lucrative profession to sell sponsorships for the Detroit Red Wings. Eventually, he started Turnkey with a boost from former Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks, who wanted an outside firm to help with a renovation project for the University of Texas’ football stadium. “Start a company,” Hicks said to Perna, who was then a Stars employee, “and I’ll be your first client.”

Perna isn’t a former coach or executive. He doesn’t specialize in a sport or a region, though the vast majority of his work comes from pro teams and organizations. He makes some placements of executives responsible for teams and their administration, such as finding Lee Reed as athletic director for Georgetown in 2010. But he gets the bulk of his work by filling the hard-core business positions — from team presidents and CEOs on down.

His point of difference is using the flip side of Turnkey’s business: a market-research arm that works with lower-level employees at pro franchises doing information-gathering projects. In effect, Perna has his research staff working as bird dogs, returning to the office with reports of a marketing innovator here, someone who reimagined sponsorship packaging over there, compiling a talent pool that will be tapped during searches. “If you’re a global search firm that only does CEOs,” he said, “you don’t see the 25- and 30-year-old kids who are doing innovative stuff.”

Mannion had been one of them, staging promotions and fan-friendly exhibits on the Veterans Stadium concourse while working for the Phillies in the 1980s. Later, Perna recruited for him when Mannion was in Colorado and Baltimore. When Turnkey placed Mannion with the Dodgers, Perna did searches for him there. Then the Pistons asked Perna to find them a CEO, and Perna recommended Mannion.

Now, in Detroit, Mannion had hired Turnkey again. He knew he could have done the search on his own; in fact, he was engaged in hiring another executive without a search at the same time. But this job, uniting all information-dissemination under one roof in order to generate what he calls “the energy of mixing,” required a complicated skill set. A rigorous process would help identify candidates who might not be evident on first glance.

Perna had some candidates in mind while still on the phone. But before he could begin, he needed a job description for the new hire. Mannion knew the drill. The four-page document that resulted enumerated both the responsibilities that the new position (tentatively called senior vice president/chief marketing, creative and communications officer) would entail, and — crucially — the skills necessary to succeed at it:

“A creative and compelling story teller with a complete mastery of all messaging, production and distribution techniques … a nimble, forward-thinking executive with a keen sense of programming … an extremely well-prepared, organized, logical, precise, checklist-oriented approach to managing priorities, processes and people.”

The moment that he saw the document, Perna glimpsed success. “We rarely get as clear of a blueprint,” he said. “That’s the key to a successful search.”

Within days, Turnkey established an initial list of 125 candidates. Calls were made to the candidates by Turnkey staff — including a few by Perna himself to candidates he knew well — in an effort to gauge their interest in the position. Over two weeks, the list was reduced to 90, then 60, but then it swelled to 75 as names were added and new leads were explored. Mannion remained blissfully unaware. “He hired us to be a shock absorber,” Perna said.

Three weeks in, on Oct. 11, Turnkey sent a list of 85 potential candidates to the Pistons. Mannion had asked Perna to pay particular attention to candidates outside the NBA and even the major sports. “It’s the maturation of the industry,” Mannion says now. “Upper management brought in from outside sports, maybe with entertainment or the Internet as the connection.”

He trusted that a strong support staff could get an outside hire up to speed on basketball-specific nuances. In addition, revenue from concerts and other non-sports Palace events provides a hefty percentage of the company’s income. Perna listened. Of the 85 candidates on the list, nearly half came from outside sports.

Searches: How much they cost,
how many use them

Typical compensation for a search ranges from as low as $25,000 for some smaller coaching positions to the well-publicized $250,000 that Colorado State paid Jed Hughes and Spencer Stuart in 2011 to find a head football coach. Often, firms receive 20 percent to 25 percent of the annual salary of the position being offered, but that number can be capped or fixed in advance so the firms don’t have a vested interest in recommending more expensive candidates. Other firms are on retainer from franchises, schools or sports-related organizations to handle multiple hires.

After speaking with a range of recruiters and team executives, SportsBusiness Journal estimates that pro franchises hire about a quarter of their top executives using outside search firms, but only about 5 percent of coaches and general managers. College programs use search firms for about half their football and basketball coaching hires and as much as 75 percent of athletic directors, but less than 20 percent for executives below that.

 — Bruce Schoenfeld

From there, interviews and background checks were conducted by Turnkey’s Carolyne Savini and Morgan Lewis. The candidate list was culled to 36. Those remaining were reinterviewed by Savini and Perna and graded — on a letter scale of A+ on down — according to 10 metrics, including tangible skills (“Marketing,” “Content Creation”) and more amorphous personality traits (“Integrator/Leader,” “Intangibles.”)

What Turnkey didn’t do, as some firms choose to do for high-profile positions, is to hire an outside company to investigate its finalists and identify potential hiring or legal problems. “We typically don’t because we know our candidates — from cradle to grave, so to speak — from when they began as interns on up,” Perna said. “If there had been issues, we’ll know them and disclose them to our clients.”

After interviews and reviews, the highest-scoring 16 candidates were submitted to Mannion as recommended options. On Nov. 11, in a two-hour call, Mannion, Perna and Savini talked through the list. “We gave the color commentary,” Perna said.

The finalists worked in wildly divergent areas. One was a personal publicist. One was an advertising executive. One worked for Disney. One worked for IMG. One had founded a sports service company. Others had spent time with various teams. Their existing compensation levels formed a broad range, too, from $165,000 to $750,000. Though saving $100,000 wouldn’t be the determining factor, salary range did eliminate a potential candidate or two on the top end.

With the information at hand, Mannion decided to interview eight candidates.

Even before his interviews, one candidate stood out. Charlie Metzger had served as the executive vice president for McCann Worldgroup’s Detroit-area office, from which he was running the U.S. Army account. Before that, he’d worked for Allied Domecq as a vice president/group marketing director. He’d also spent eight years as the Miller Lite brand manager, overseeing a $110 million budget that included massive sports buys. Of the outsiders, he was the one closest to the inside. And he was already in Detroit, which meant he didn’t need to be sold on it.

The bad news was that Metzger was up for a significant promotion to run McCann’s Detroit-area office. It was the position he’d been working toward for a decade, the culmination of all his efforts in advertising. He couldn’t imagine turning it down.

Just as Mannion was deciding that he wanted Charlie Metzger, Metzger had come to the decision that he didn’t want the Pistons job.

Search firms do more than identify, vet and rank the top candidates for a position. They do more than provide cover for hires, or validate in-house assumptions. Their compensation is often tied to not only finding the top candidate, but actually delivering that person.

Often that’s easy enough. A candidate wouldn’t ask to be considered if he or she didn’t have at least a glimmer of interest, wouldn’t have taken part if most of the parameters weren’t right. “And then you’re gently selling all the way through the process,” said Joe Becher, of London-based Odgers Berndtson, a major international search firm with a thriving sports arm (see related story). “You’re continuing to reinforce why it’s a good career move, why the organization is one you’d want to work for.”

But others participate because they like the ego boost of getting an offer, or to use outside interest to get better pay and benefits from a current employer, or because they’re too polite or humble to decline. That doesn’t always mean they’re ready to make a career change, or move across the country. “We work in an industry where people do have egos and like to be flattered and have their egos stoked,” Becher said. “You have to convince them it’s a meeting worth taking and a job worth looking at.”

That’s when an executive recruiter has to actually recruit. “I love that,” Beaudine said. “The people I try to recommend are the guys who someone says, ‘He’d be great, but you’ll never get him.’ In every search that I do, when you talk to one of those ‘bests,’ those guys you’ll never get, one of them is always willing to listen. It’s the good-looking-girl syndrome: Everyone thinks you could never get him.”

Beaudine is a second-generation search specialist.
Beaudine delivered John Calipari to Kentucky when everyone figured he was anchored in Memphis. He convinced Mike Montgomery to take a job at Cal after he’d had a career across the bay at Stanford. He got June Jones to leave Hawaii and a 12-0 team to come to Dallas and 1-11 SMU. The secret, he said, is selling them on a vision that transcends “more money, more power, more fame.”

“People think that those are the reasons that people change jobs,” he said. “Often, they aren’t.”

Sometimes it’s moving where your family will thrive, or taking a job with better tools — a larger budget, a bigger stadium, a more imaginative boss — that will make success more likely. Jones had been at Hawaii for years; his family was ready to return to the mainland. Dallas is a major market, and SMU hadn’t been to a bowl game since the Pony Express days. “June loves that kind of challenge,” Beaudine said. “That’s the vision that got him.”

Charlie Metzger wasn’t living in Hawaii, but he was making mid-six figures as an advertising executive. He’d been tapped for the leadership position he’d been coveting. He’d let his name be floated by Turnkey because he liked the idea of working in sports. “I was intrigued as a fan,” he said. But once the process became serious, he called Perna and said that the timing wasn’t right. He asked that his name be removed from the list of candidates.

In order to get him to reconsider, Perna knew he’d have to figure out what was missing in Metzger’s life. In Beaudine’s terminology, he needed to find a vision. “He was going to be president of McCann Erickson,” Perna said. “What could I offer him? He knew the area, he knew the Pistons, he understood what the position meant. There was nothing I could tell him about any of that. But there was one aspect of this that he didn’t know.”

Metzger didn’t know Mannion.

Perna believed that any of the finalists would thrive in the position. The difference with Metzger, he realized as the process developed, was that he and Mannion would be wonderfully complementary. They were both unconventional thinkers who looked, sounded and felt like conventional executives. Perna could see them developing a close relationship.

Perna urged Metzger to come to Auburn Hills for an interview. He was local, so there would be no travel involved. “Even if you don’t end up wanting the job, you guys could end up being soulmates,” Perna told him. He was serious. Metzger did his own due diligence and found that Mannion evoked raves from everyone he called. On Nov. 22, Metzger and Mannion met for four hours. “He lit up every room he was in,” Mannion later told Perna. Metzger left feeling excited. For the first time, he could see himself taking the job.

Still, Perna’s work wasn’t done. Recruiters are typically involved until a contract is signed, helping to negotiate salary and benefits. Many don’t get the final piece of their payment until a new hire is in place. Finding the right candidate doesn’t help if the two sides can’t agree on salary, benefits or job description.

Perna had that role here, relaying demands and responses like an international diplomat. The negotiations came down to a signing bonus that Metzger wanted in order to rationalize taking the leap into the unknown. Perna explained that in sports, such bonuses were rare, save for jump shooters, home-run hitters and quarterbacks. “Shift that bonus to the back end, when you’ve proven yourself and they don’t want to let you go,” Perna said, “and I think we’ve got a deal.”

More than a year later, Metzger has overseen the evolution of the Pistons’ marketing, communication and informational content. The department-head structure Mannion wanted is working as well as he had fantasized. “It feels like we’re playing in a band,” he said.

For his part, Metzger couldn’t be happier. “The goal isn’t just to get back to the good numbers we had in 2004; it’s a total rethink of sports and entertainment,” he said. “I love it.”

Welcome aboard: Dennis Mannion (left), president of the Pistons and Palace Sports & Entertainment, introduces new CMO Charlie Metzger.
Mannion has since hired Turnkey again to fill another executive position. He considered the Metzger hire a home run, but while in the midst of the process, he’d hired a head of revenue without using a search firm. “I didn’t think I needed one,” he said. “It didn’t work. I won’t do that again.”

The practice of paying outside firms to find executives is still far from ubiquitous. Asked about using recruiters, the HR department of MLB’s Los Angeles Angels — a cutting-edge franchise in many ways — responded with an email saying that “finding strong talent isn’t really a challenge for us.” Instead, the team prefers to use internal recommendations and referrals. “Everyone here seems pretty connected,” the email added.

Yet Perna recently received a call that made him sanguine about the future of his profession. The Pittsburgh Steelers, family-owned and traditionally run, wanted him to help find them an executive. “That’s one of the strongest brands in sports, with thousands of résumés of people who would like to work there,” Perna said. “But for the first time, they want a process. More than anything else, that goes to show how times are changing.”

Bruce Schoenfeld is a writer in Colorado.

You could sense the conflict inside Joe Bailey. The RSR Partners sports recruiter wanted to explain what made his firm more effective than its competitors. He had a story to tell, and he was eager to tell it. But like Ernest Hemingway, he knew he’d have to leave off the ending.

“We evaluate all our candidates based on the 67 basic skills that we’ve identified to gauge whether someone is going to be an effective leader,” crowed Bailey, RSR’s managing director and head of its sports practice. Then he paused.

“But I can’t tell you what they are.”

That’s the executive search category, in a nutshell. Part science and part intuition, using a dizzying range of proprietary metrics and evaluative tools and almost as many different areas of specialization and philosophical approaches. It’s a murky world that’s difficult to penetrate.

Bailey, who in Dick Cheney fashion once conducted a search to find someone to run the Miami Dolphins and ended up recommending himself, leans heavily on the evaluative techniques he has devised to identify candidates who will “have an enormous impact.” Across several firms — including Heidrick & Struggles, his own Global Sport 360, and the old Russell Reynolds & Associates, the precursor to RSR — he’s had great success. But if that’s not the approach you’re looking for, there are too many others to count waiting for you in the marketplace. One after another, each firm takes a unique approach, specializes in a different segment, offers potential clients a different perspective. There’s a fit for every client, and for each particular search.

Believe in personality profiling and psychological assessment? Try Jed Hughes of Korn/Ferry International, who’s educated in those disciplines. Feel that connections are the key? If your field is football, longtime College Football Association head Chuck Neinas knows more potential candidates than anyone. Sometimes a firm’s advantages are a synthesis with other businesses. Turnkey’s Len Perna (see related story) touts a market-research arm that tracks rising talent in the industry.

Large firms such as Eastman & Beaudine or Parker Executive Search typically trumpet their unique methods of evaluating candidates, techniques designed to work across various disciplines. That fits particularly well in C-level searches, for which the best candidate might be employed in a different industry. The smaller and narrower the firm, like those that specialize in human resources positions or others that are sport-specific, the more weight it typically puts on contacts, confidentiality and knowledge of the industry. Those are often a good choice for coaching or athletic director/general manager positions in which the field of candidates is relatively finite.

A few major firms, notably Korn/Ferry, are publicly traded, with the inherent benefits and pressures that entails. Like many firms in an industry that tends to operate in near-obsessive secrecy, Korn/Ferry wouldn’t make on-the-record comments for this story. CMO and senior vice president searches, the fastest-growing industry segment by most accounts, are often under Korn/Ferry’s radar. But it was Hughes, a former assistant coach under Bo Schembechler and Chuck Noll, who in January was given the unusual mandate to find a general manager for an NFL team, the New York Jets. That search made countless fans aware of sports recruiters for the first time.

Neinas served as executive director of the CFA from 1980 to 1997, rubbing shoulders with just about every college football coach in America. Since then, he has helped place coaches and ADs with 12 SEC schools, 10 of the old Big 12 schools, even North Carolina and North Carolina State in the same year — some 70 to 75 placements in all. Nearly everyone up for consideration as a head football coach at a major-college program is someone Neinas knows personally. If not, he knows someone they’ve worked for. But forget college basketball, let alone anything in the pros. “I just don’t have the contacts,” he said.

A few firms operate internationally. Over the past eight years, venerable London-based Odgers Berndtson has built up an international sports practice of a scale unique in the field. “We’ve grown every year,” said Joe Becher, who oversees the day-to-day business of the sports arm under partner Simon Cummins.

As many sports entities are now asking to have executives working in other sectors considered, Becher’s European clients often want a North American candidate to be included on their shortlists. His placements include Tom Glick, formerly the CMO of the New Jersey Nets (via Derby County, where he did strategic planning), as the COO of Manchester City, and Michael Bolingbroke, who had been a senior vice president at Cirque du Soleil in Montreal, as the COO of Manchester United. “But not at the same time,” Becher stressed about working for the bitter crosstown rivals.

Some firms cross-pollinate between sports and entertainment. Sean Scanlon of Caldwell Partners has recruited for the New York Jets, but also Tennis Channel, MTV, Lifetime, Comedy Central and Univision. In either sector, he believes success hinges on matching a management style to the potential candidates. “Some are bureaucratic, others reward mavericks,” he said. “It’s not off-the-rack.”

Yet sports comes with its own challenges. “If you own a plastic bag company, nobody outside the industry renders an opinion as to how you made that plastic bag, or who you chose to run the company,” Scanlon said. “But everyone has an opinion as to how you run your team. No other industry in the world has that degree of public scrutiny.”

As a result, searches often take place in secrecy. There’s plenty of potential embarrassment on all sides, including media and fan incredulity that a team owner would need outside help to hire a coach or even a president. Search firms provide plausible deniability in case a candidate contacted for a high-profile position turns out not to want it. And they keep the process confidential.

Chuck Neinas (left) filled in at the Big 12, but his specialty is finding football coaches.
“Jeremy Foley didn’t need help finding a football coach,” said Neinas, who helped deliver Urban Meyer to the Florida AD in 2005. “But in his previous search, when he’d hired Ron Zook, he talked to Bob Stoops and Mike Shanahan, and the whole world knew about it. To this day, nobody knows who else was interviewed when Meyer ended up getting the job. That’s why I was hired.”

Neinas, and consultants like him, can keep the secret because they have no accountability to anyone but their clients. They answer no questions from fans, constituents or the media, and seldom do they even put themselves in a position to be asked — one reason why the field remains mysterious. In other disciplines, firms shout their successes from the rooftops.

In executive search, boasting is circumspect. The AD or CEO who hired you might not want to share the credit.

As more and more firms are placing more and more candidates, however, that is starting to change. Following the recent NCAA men’s basketball tournament, Eastman & Beaudine sent a blast email congratulating clients on their successes. The firm had put coach Gregg Marshall at Wichita State, AD Tom Jurich at national champion Louisville, AD Ian McCaw and head coach Scott Drew at NIT champion Baylor. It wanted the world to know.

But its clients evidently didn’t get the memo. The Wichita State AD who had hired Marshall — Jim Schaus, now at Ohio University — steadfastly ignored calls and emails inquiring about help he’d received finding Marshall. Harry Jones, the three-time chair of Louisville’s board of trustees who’d overseen the search for an AD after Bill Olsen resigned, had no recollection of Eastman & Beaudine playing a role in the process. Instead, he recalled a far more collegial scenario. “I had a friend in Laramie who said, ‘Tom Jurich of Colorado State is out here playing golf and you need to talk to him,’” he said.

Only Robert Sloan, who had been relieved of his duties as president at Baylor and landed at Houston Baptist, conceded that Beaudine had been involved in the process — and then only because of the circumstances. Baylor’s basketball program had dissolved in a mess of NCAA violations and criminal acts, including murder. The outcry was so loud, the necessity of choosing the right candidates at both AD and coach so great, that it was important to make the impression that no stone was being left unturned, as well as to actually overturn all those stones.

Even when teams believe they have the perfect candidate in mind, some turn to search firms to validate that they’re not being overly swayed by familiarity or proximity. Earlier this year, Turnkey’s Perna was hired by a pro franchise that wanted help choosing between three candidates for an important position. As the search evolved, an array of more suitable names was identified. “Ten days into the search, their three candidates weren’t in the mix,” Perna said. “No shame on the client, by the way. They’re just not in the talent market like we are.”

That makes sense. If you’re an owner of a pro franchise, or an AD or president at a major university, you rarely need to go through the process of hiring an AD or CEO. “You need help,” Bailey said. “Help to evaluate the fit, to make sure you’re making the right decision.” Hiring a search firm is the equivalent of taking out an expensive insurance policy.

“You’ll feel better when you’re down to three people if the recruiter has evaluated 150 instead of just six,” Scanlon said. “If you’re making a hire, you want to be able to ask yourself, ‘Is this the best candidate or just the only candidate?’”

“When you think about it,” Bailey said, “it’s risk management.”

Not that using a search firm makes the process failproof. It was Parker Executive Search that identified Julie Hermann as a top candidate for the Rutgers AD job following the dismissal of Tim Pernetti — though a 28-person committee, not Parker, signed off on Hermann, who was later alleged to have used abusive language when she was the women’s volleyball coach at Tennessee.

As of this writing, Hermann remains the Rutgers AD, and is still being touted on the Parker website under “recent placements.” If she ends up leaving the job within a year, though, and Rutgers’ contract with the firm follows the industry standard, Parker will repeat the search process — for free.

Bruce Schoenfeld is a writer in Colorado.

The Class AAA Pacific Coast League’s Las Vegas 51s named Don Logan president and chief operating officer.

The Class AA Southern League’s Pensacola (Fla.) Blue Wahoos promoted Willie Lawrence to assistant head groundskeeper, Denise Richardson to merchandise manager, Donna Kirby to director of promotions and community relations, and Mike Crenshaw to visiting clubhouse manager.


The NBA named David Watts vice president for Russia and former Soviet states. Watts was an executive for IMG Worldwide.

The Portland Trail Blazers named Dr. Christopher Stackpole director of player health and performance. Stackpole was a physical therapist at ProEx Physical Therapy.


The George Washington University School of Business named Mark Hyman assistant professor of management in the sports management program.

Merrimack College named Jeremy Gibson athletic director. Gibson was senior associate athletic director at Harvard


Southern New Hampshire University named Cody Cranor assistant athletic director for compliance.

Steve Cobb stepped down as athletic director at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

The University of Louisville promoted Christine Krellwitz to senior associate athletic director.

The University of Memphis named Ryan Bradley associate athletic director for marketing and strategic communications. Bradley was associate athletic director for external relations at Rogers State University.

Utah Valley University named Vincent Otoupal athletic director. Otoupal was athletic director at California State University, Monterey Bay.

Sonoma Raceway named Laurence Lea media and community relations coordinator.

The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee hired Joe Hickey as vice president of sales and partnership activation.


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired Nelson Luis as director of communications. Luis was director of media relations for the Houston Rockets.

The Columbus Blue Jackets hired Mike Minnix as premium seating account executive.

The Dallas Stars named Scott White director of hockey operations. Scott will retain his role as general manager of the Stars’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Texas Stars.

The Nashville Predators named Scott Nichol director of player development.

Ketchum Sports & Entertainment hired Felipe Soalheiro as sports director in the São Paolo office and Stephanie Burke as managing account supervisor in the New York City office.

Learfield Sports named Randy Younker general manager of Saluki Sports Properties at Southern Illinois University. Younker was territory sales manager for Orthopaedic Resource.

Buffalo Communications named Elizabeth Maloy public relations manager.

Premier Partnerships hired Spencer Wolf as marketing services coordinator and Robert O’Keefe as corporate sponsorships assistant.


St. Louis CBS affiliate KMOV-TV named Maurice Drummond sports director.

The Pac-12 Networks named Jonathan Leess senior vice president of production planning and operations. Leess was president of DoubleVision Media.

NBC Universal named Adam Freifeld to head its internal communications. Freifeld was vice president of communications for NBC Sports Group, which named Dan Masonson to replace Freifeld, effective June 18. Masonson was NFL director of corporate communications. NBC Sports Group also promoted Paul Wilson to senior vice president of Olympic sales.

The National Hot Rod Association named Josh Hachat media relations manager. Hachat was director of media and communications for the American Drag Racing League and X-Treme Drag Racing League.

Toyota Racing Development President and General Manager Lee White retired effective at the end of the 2013 NASCAR season.

The USL club Orlando City hired Brett Lashbrook to assist in completing plans for a new soccer stadium and negotiating an MLS expansion agreement. Lashbrook was special assistant to the MLS commissioner.

Sporting Goods and Apparel
Footwear brand Keen named Mike Abbott president, effective July 8.

Shock Doctor Sports and Cutter Gloves named Todd Blyleven sports product marketing manager. Blyleven was business development manager for SKLZ Pro Performance Sports.

Puma named Andy Koehler chief operating officer. Koehler was managing director for Hong Kong and head of global sourcing at Adidas Group.

Awards and Boards
The National Association of Sports Commissioners elected John Gibbons to its board of directors. Gibbons is executive director of the Rhode Island Sports Commission.

The European Games named Jim Scherr chief operating officer. Scherr was commissioner of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

GoVision promoted Brady Haass to vice president of client services.

Microsoft named Virl Hill director of business development and sports strategic partnerships in the online services division. Hill was chief executive officer of Blade Games World.

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.

Sportscasters, sportswriters honored by their own

The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association held its annual Hall of Fame banquet on June 10 at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C. LEFT: Mitch Albom (left) receives his Hall of Fame plaque from his Detroit Free Press sports editor, Gene Myers. ESPN’s Dick Vitale was also inducted; CENTER: National Sportscaster of the Year Dan Patrick (left) with master of ceremonies Karl Hales; RIGHT: Association Executive Director Dave Goren (left) with the National Sportswriter of the Year, SI’s Peter King.

Maryland Lottery hits it big

Football hall of famer and former Baltimore Raven Jonathan Ogden made an appearance recently at the Maryland Lottery’s 40th anniversary celebration to announce the “Keno with J.O.” promotion, through which the lottery will activate its sponsorship of the Ravens. From left: Marc Bluestein, Aquarius Sports and Entertainment founder and president; Stephen Martino, director of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency; and Ogden.

USOC’s international outreach

The U.S. Olympic Committee entertained more than a hundred international guests June 4 at the Loeb Boathouse in New York City’s Central Park. The event was a prelude to the International Forum on Sport for Peace and Development, held June 5-6 at the United Nations headquarters. From left: USOC CEO Scott Blackmun, U.S. Olympic Foundation trustee Jonathan Ledecky and IOC presidential candidate from Singapore Ng Ser Miang.

Advertising Educational Foundation recognizes Hill

David Hill, News Corp. senior EVP, was among the honorees June 11 at the Advertising Educational Foundation’s Honors Night dinner at University Club in New York City. From left: Hill; Paula Alex, Advertising Educational Foundation CEO; and Rino Scanzoni, GroupM chief investment officer.

Road Runners’ sponsors gather in New York City

New York Road Runners welcome sponsors of the 2013 ING New York City Marathon to the NYRR Partner Forum, which was held June 4 at Le Parker Meridien in New York City. From left: John Gassner, NYRR VP of business development and strategic partnerships; Adam Ragsdale, ING sponsorship director; Suzanne Sullivan, ING head of sponsorships and cause-related marketing; Bill Logee, ASICS America Corp. marketing manager of running events; Karen List, The New York Times director of agency/industry relations/sports marketing; Mary Wittenberg, NYRR president and CEO; and Sam Martin, Timex Group USA senior brand manager of sport.
Photo by: NYRR

Bulls dig in on new practice facility

The Chicago Bulls held a groundbreaking ceremony on June 10 for the team’s new practice facility, adjacent to the United Center. From left: John Paxson, EVP of basketball operations; general manager Gar Forman; coach Tom Thibodeau; Chicago Alderman Walter Burnett Jr.; Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel; Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf; and Michael Reinsdorf, president and COO, were on hand to celebrate the new venue, scheduled for completion in time for the 2014-15 season.

The Cowboy way

Nationwide Insurance CMO Matt Jauchius (center) presents Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones (left) and Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Ware with Nationwide flags during a partnership announcement June 11 at the Cowboys’ Valley Ranch headquarters and practice facility. Nationwide will sponsor the Cowboys and use Ware as an endorser.

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Ilana Kloss is CEO/commissioner of the newly branded Mylan World TeamTennis, which she runs with co-founder Billie Jean King. The former world No. 1 doubles player (she reached a high of No. 19 in singles) will additionally be inducted next month into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in Israel. The WTT season lasts only three weeks, but those weeks are in July, so Kloss will be making just a quick, one-day trip to Israel for the July 17 induction. With Wimbledon about to start and the WTT season around the corner, Kloss shares some thoughts about her sport, including the nascent International Premier Tennis League and Mylan coming aboard as WTT’s lead sponsor.

— Compiled by Daniel Kaplan


We have had some informal discussions with [the new IPTL] and we hope that they are successful. It really for us verifies what we have been saying for a long time: that there is space in tennis for team competition.

New for Mylan WTT in 2013:
The title sponsorship, which is huge for any sports property; bringing in Venus [Williams] and Andy Roddick as equity owners of the league; and the Washington Kastles have won 32 straight matches. They are hoping to break the L.A. Lakers’ record [for consecutive wins in pro sports] of 33 straight. That is phenomenal in any pro sport; that is hard to do: being undefeated in two seasons.

Discussion points with IPTL?: Certainly having a discussion about a potential relationship. … Potential ways for us to be involved include licensing our format, which is proven and tried. We have a lot of experience in what doesn’t work. We could certainly help shorten any learning curve.

Favorite Wimbledon memory: I was part of the group at the Gloucester Hotel 40 years ago, about 40 players, at Wimbledon, that created the WTA. Billie said, “This is it. We are going to have an association when we walk out of here,” and we all basically signed a document, and that really was the birth of the WTA. That was a pretty historical moment to be in that room.

On the court: For me growing up in South Africa, we used to listen to Wimbledon on the radio; Wimbledon was the mecca. … In 1972, I actually went to Wimbledon and played in the junior event, and in those days they didn’t have any practice courts for juniors. Billie Jean was playing in the finals of singles and asked me to warm up with her before the finals — so I got to warm up [on] sacred ground. I won the juniors, and she won the singles.

Leadership in a sports organization is about three things. No. 1 is, the way you act and the way you behave sets the tone for the entire organization. I want everyone in our organization to see the way I treat customers, treat fans, treat sponsors, and we need to have a whole culture built around that first-class service.

Second thing you have to do is set the goals. We have a lot of things to accomplish. We have incredible opportunities, we have to basically communicate where we are going to go with these things, what our goals are and how we’re going to get there.

No. 3, and maybe the most important thing, is finding the right people to be on the team.

One thing I know for sure is my tenure as chairman and the Ricketts family ownership will be defined by one thing, and it’ll be, Did we win or not?

A leader needs to be visible. I don’t know how you can be a leader and do it in abstention. You have to be out there. You have to know your people and know what they’re trying to accomplish and support them and be seen as part of a team or someone who is leading a team.

I’m in the office most days. I’m at every home game, and so myself and the family itself are very visible.

I walk around every home game for five to six innings and I talk to everybody. It’s important to me. It’s the favorite part of my day. I really do enjoy talking to people and seeing how their day is going and cheering with them and being a part of the scene at Wrigley.

Cub fans have such a deep passion for the team and the park, and I want them all to know that we share that passion and we feel the pain in the losses and the joy in victories just like they do.

There are days where it’s cold and it’s wet and [I’m] sitting up in my nice dry room having my lunch, and [I’m] like, ‘Jeez I have to go out and talk to people,’ and there are days where it’s not what I really want to do today, but the minute you meet that first person, that all changes and it becomes the best part of every game.

There’s this misperception that everyone at Wrigley is there just to drink beer and meet somebody. The fact is most of our fans are very knowledgeable.

The other thing that’s been very impressive is, everyone understands what we’re doing. We’ve been very clear that this is an organization that’s going to do things the right way. We’re going to build a baseball culture that is smart, consistent and on a path to be a contender every year, and people get it.

This work-life balance is a big improvement over my previous job, which was running an investment bank with an international office. When I’m not home at night, I’m just 10 minutes down the road. And we live right on the L line in Chicago, so my kids can come to any game they want — just pay $1.85 and they are there.

When we were kids, we had a family business. My father was starting a brokerage firm. By the time that we were in our 20s, it got too big to be a family business. Part of the reason why we wanted to buy the team was it’s a real family business and it brings everyone together. It gives me a lot of time with my siblings.

One of the hardest things about recruiting people is you’ve got to find complementary skill sets. Your nature tells you to hire someone just like you, but you have to be careful to overrule that to make sure you have the strongest team in place.

Beyond just complementary skill sets, you need people that want to work hard, that are optimistic, that can get along with other people, because just like there is a team on the field, there is a team off the field and they have to work together.

In hiring, it’s important to talk to people who they’ve worked with in the past. You can get a lot out of that. People are very circumspect about what they’ll say if they had a bad experience with that individual. But if they had a good experience with that individual, you’ll know.

Ultimately the best way to do any homework on a potential person to bring on a team is to talk to people they’ve worked with, and hopefully those are people you trust.

One of the things we instituted this year is a sponsorship program with Northwestern’s business school to create a certificate program for our great young people so that not only will they get the on-the-job experience of just their daily job, but get broader perspective. It really adds to their résumé, and it’s had a tremendous response.

Sports are obviously very fortunate in the fact that you have the ability to pick and choose who you want to bring in because there are so few opportunities and so many people that want them. Once they’re in and you have the right people, you’ve got to do the right thing for them and focus to make sure [you] retain them.

In a typical business, you have a great young person, you go let them run the London office. The Chicago Cubs don’t get a London office. So you have to focus on internal opportunities and then supplement them with some type of education outside that will help round them out.

I have five kids. The oldest is 17, and the youngest is 7. When my wife and I are away on vacation I disconnect a little bit. I really disconnect best in the mountains, particularly when I’m fishing.

There are mornings where you wake up at 3:30 a.m. feeling that 20 million Cubs fans are standing on your chest because you just have such a huge obligation to make sure that everything we do builds toward that championship.

We have a great management team, so I don’t sweat the details. I just sweat are we doing the right big-picture things to get that championship to our fans.

I do love reading baseball history. At night, before I go to bed, I try to not read baseball because I’d end up dreaming about it all night.

My favorite books are the Patrick O’Brian books [author of “Master and Commander”]. I read them like 20 years ago and now I’m re-reading all of them because it just takes you away. Ten minutes before you go to bed and you’re reading about a far-away place with far different issues, and it’s a great way to unwind.