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Volume 21 No. 1
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Where are they now?

Over the years, many people have generated headlines in the sports business and then moved on to other endeavors, often by choice, but sometimes not. Here’s a look at some of the people we used to know, and where they are today.

Austrian was a top NFL executive and one of the true heavy hitters at the league, serving as president and COO from 1991 to 1999. Austrian recently resigned as chairman and co-CEO of Office Depot, a position he was named to in May 2011. He is a director of DirecTV and is on the advisory board of MidOcean Partners, a private investment firm.


David Baker
Baker was AFL commissioner during what could be considered the league’s salad days, from 1996 until 2008. Charming and affable despite his imposing 6-foot-9 frame, he now lives in Orange County, Calif., and is managing partner of Union Village, a proposed $1.5 billion integrated health care facility project for Henderson, Nev., near Las Vegas. He also attends about 10 Atlanta Falcons games a year to watch his son, offensive tackle Sam Baker. He’s just as often heard boasting about his other son, Ben, who is now a senior manager of broadcasting for NASCAR in Charlotte, after spending five years at ESPN.

This sports agent was the talk of the agency business when he represented five first-round NFL draft picks in 1999. Just three years later, he was convicted of stealing at least $12 million from several of his athlete clients. He served nearly eight years in prison before being released in 2008. He wrote a book, “Tanked,” that was published in 2009. Black is now back in prison in Edgefield, S.C., after a federal court judge sentenced him to six months for violating the terms of his supervised release. He is scheduled to be released in March.


Carolyn Bivens
The former associate publisher of USA Today was an outsider to sports when she was named LPGA Tour commissioner in 2005. During her four-year stint, she struggled with many industry relationships, including with tournaments, sponsors, players and TV networks. She left the LPGA in 2009 and now lives in Newport Beach, Calif., doing “all the things I hoped to do,” including volunteering at the UC Irvine infusion chemotherapy center.

In the early 2000s, the U.S. Olympic Committee had trouble landing a CEO who fit in with the culture of the Olympics and the various national governing bodies. Blake, a corporate turnaround specialist, served a tumultuous nine-month stint, from February to October 2000, during which he cut staff and implemented a money-for-medals plan to ramp up accountability. Blake now serves on the board of directors of Owens Corning and on the Dean’s Advisory Council at the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University.


Croce left basketball behind and now runs six bars and a pirate museum.
Photo by: AP IMAGES
Croce, a longtime physical therapist, was a breath of fresh air in pro sports, leading the Philadelphia 76ers with a man-of-the-people persona. He served as 76ers president from 1996 to 2001, a stint that included a run to the NBA Finals. Croce is now the owner of the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum, which displays his private collection of pirate artifacts, and of six bars in the Key West area. Croce also serves as chairman of Medkita, a physical therapy business consulting company that he founded in Villanova, Pa., in 2011.

The former Heisman Trophy-winning running back was athletic director at Southern California from 1993 until 2010, when he was fired after the NCAA hit the school with stiff penalties. Garrett was hired in 2012 as athletic director of Langston University, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics school in Oklahoma.


Del Biaggio is serving an 8-year prison sentence.
The Silicon Valley venture capitalist put together a group to buy the Nashville Predators in 2007, but he used falsified documents to make the purchase and was convicted of securities fraud in 2009. Del Biaggio is now serving an eight-year prison sentence in Lompoc, Calif., and is scheduled to be released in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons website.

The former NHLPA leader was known for his toughness and resolve, as he oversaw a players’ strike and two lockouts during his tenure as executive director from 1991 to 2005. Goodenow, who was a private person even when he was a public figure, is now happily retired, friends say. He spends time between his two homes in Michigan and one in Florida.

The married couple were longtime executives at IMG, wielding strong influence under founder Mark McCormark. But both departed shortly after IMG was acquired by Ted Forstmann. The couple remain in Cleveland. Johnson is vice chairman and chief operating officer of Stack Media, a multiplatform company that focuses on athlete training, nutrition and marketing. Tolleson is the assistant head of the School for Advancement at Hawken School in Gates Mills, Ohio.


George Gillett
Photo by: AP IMAGES
The charming Gillett, a longtime ski company executive, was seen as a new style of owner when he bought the Montreal Canadiens in 2001. He later bought a NASCAR team, Gillett Evernham Motorsports, and partnered with former Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks to buy Liverpool Football Club. But the credit crunch that sparked a recession forced him to sell his sports interests between 2009 and 2010. Gillett continues to serve as CEO of Booth Creek, a business management company he formed in 1996 that specializes in ski resort operations.
Kirschner was one of the NFL’s earliest voices stressing opportunities in the emerging digital landscape when she served as NFL Interactive vice president from 1995 to 1999. She helped launch and NFL Sunday Ticket. She is now university dean of Macaulay Honors College at City University of New York, and just published her second book, “Lady at the OK Corral,” a biography of Wyatt Earp’s common law wife, Josephine Earp.
The well-read, influential “Sports on TV” columnist for USA Today was one of the most important voices in sports business from 1982 until 2005. Martzke continues to do some consulting for sports entities, but is mostly retired. “My wife, Mouse, and I have lived in an active adult retirement community near Kissimmee, Fla.,” Martzke wrote in an email. “I golf a few days a week, travel to some sports events, visit our two sons in California and occasionally sail on cruises out of Florida ports.”

Levinson was president of NFL Properties from 1994 to 2000, a time that saw a new breed of owners present major challenges to the league’s sponsorship sales model. She now serves on the board of directors of two Fortune 500 companies, Harley-Davidson and Macy’s Inc. Levinson is a board member and co-founder of Kandu, a startup company at the intersection of kids and technology that primarily targets middle school kids. In an email, Levinson wrote, “Kandu is launching in early 2014 and gives kids powerful tools to design, build and share their own apps and software without needing to learn code.”

For years, O’Malley was among the highest-ranking women executives in sports, serving as president of Abe Pollin’s Washington Sports & Entertainment from 1986-2007. While seen as a media friendly, motivating and hard-charging young executive, her stewardship never brought much success to the organization. Since leaving sports, O’Malley has taught at several universities.

The former IMG senior vice president is best remembered as Tiger Woods’ first agent. He negotiated a reported $100 million worth of deals for the golfer from when Woods turned pro in 1996 until he dropped Norton in 1998. Norton is now happily retired, living in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, near Cleveland, where he plays a lot of golf at The Country Club in Pepper Pike, Ohio. He has two daughters and recently became a first-time grandfather.


Lloyd Ward
Photo by: AP IMAGES
Shortly after the end of Norm Blake’s tenure at the USOC (see “Norm Blake” entry), former Maytag Corp. CEO Lloyd Ward was brought in to run the organization. But Ward’s tenure lasted only a little longer than his predecessor’s, as he resigned after only 16 months amid controversy over his management style and concerns about potential violations of the USOC’s ethics code. Ward is now the chairman and CEO of CleanTech Solutions Worldwide, an environmental recycling company, and is on the board of directors of Belo Corp., which owns television stations across the U.S.

From 2000 to 2005, Burk served as chairwoman of the National Council of Women’s Organizations and led efforts to open the Augusta National Golf Club to women. In 2002, she launched a protest of the private club for excluding women from membership. Years later, in 2012, Augusta admitted Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as its first women members. Burk now serves as director of the Corporate Accountability Project for the NCWO.


The former John Hancock CEO now owns two Italian restaurants in Boston.
The former John Hancock CEO was frank and outspoken about sports marketing and was a key figure in pushing the International Olympic Committee to reform after the Salt Lake City bribery scandal. He stepped down in 2004 and now owns two Italian restaurants, called Toscano, in Boston and is CEO of DFD Enterprises. He has worked on behalf of SeaWorld Entertainment as board chairman and also works for the Blackstone Group.

Bonham, whose Bonham Group was involved in naming rights and consulting, was one of the most often quoted executives when it came to the sports business. His firm closed in 2009 after 21 years and he moved overseas. He is now CEO of Bonham/Wills & Associates, a sports and entertainment marketing firm with bases in Paris and Nicosia, Cyprus.

Perez was a nontraditional choice when he was tabbed to leave packaged goods company S.C. Johnson to replace Phil Knight as Nike president and CEO in December 2004. As one observer wrote, “How do you replace a legend? A legend who is still around.” It turned out to be difficult. Perez lasted only 13 months before resigning in January 2006, citing philosophical differences with Knight. Perez is now a senior adviser at global investment banking firm Greenhill & Co. and serves on the board of directors of several corporations, including  Whirlpool Corp. and Johnson & Johnson.


Marla Messing
Photo by: AP IMAGES
Messing was behind the push to land the 1994 men’s World Cup and then led the three-year effort to stage the women’s championship as president and CEO of the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She oversaw one of the most successful women’s sports events ever held, with massive attendance and worldwide television viewership. Messing, an attorney, is now vice chairwoman of the Brentwood School, an independent school that her three daughters attend in an upscale Los Angeles neighborhood. “I love the sports industry,” Messing said. “When my children graduate from high school, I would love to go back to work.”