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Volume 21 No. 2

People and Pop Culture


The Phoenix Suns hired Nic Barlage as senior vice president and chief sales officer. Barlage was vice president of sales and services for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

California University of Pennsylvania hired Karen Hjerpe as athletic director.

Long Beach State University hired Wayne Stickney as senior associate athletic director for major gifts and revenue acquisition, effective March 10. Stickney was associate athletic director for development at New Mexico State University.

Manhattan College named Noah LeFevre athletic director, effective in June. LeFevre is Manhattan College’s senior associate athletic director.

The NHL hired Brian Cull as vice president of integrated marketing. Cull was senior vice president of global sales with Wasserman Media Group.

CAA Sports Consulting named Jon Levine corporate consultant. Levine was vice president of global experiential marketing for Xerox Corp.

Learfield Sports hired Patrick McCarthy as account executive for Northwestern Sports Properties. McCarthy was senior account executive at CBS Radio.
Back9Network hired Stephen Higgins as vice president of advertising sales and marketing. Higgins was national director of digital sales at American Media.

National syndicator Sports USA promoted Lyle Gordon to executive vice president of affiliate relations.

CSN Northwest hired Jeff Ingalls as senior executive producer. Ingalls was producer of “NASCAR Countdown” for ESPN/ABC.

Entertainment Weekly hired Matt Bean as editor. Bean was managing editor for hired Erik Malinowski as a writer and editor. Malinowski was a senior writer at BuzzFeed.

The Golf Channel hired Kory Kozak as coordinating producer of features and Mark Summer as senior director of “Golf Central.”

Silver Chalice hired Linda Leludis as senior director of audience development and Christi Bassos as director of strategic partnerships.

NASCAR promoted Kurt Culbert to senior director of stakeholder communications, Jayme Avrit to senior manager of stakeholder communications, Matt Nordby to senior manager of broadcast and entertainment communications and Alex Moore to senior coordinator of content communications. NASCAR also hired Tom Bryant as director of touring and weekly communications and Adé Herbert as Fan and Media Engagement Center coordinator.

Joe Gibbs Racing promoted Dave Alpern to chief marketing officer, Todd Meredith to chief operating officer, Heath Cherry to vice president of sponsorship, Chris Helein to vice president of communications and JJ Damato to vice president of marketing services.

Multiteam Companies
Monumental Sports & Entertainment promoted Jim Van Stone to chief revenue officer.

Palace Sports & Entertainment hired Laura Ferich as corporate controller, Luke McMunigal as senior financial analyst, Erica Neitzer as manager of promotions, and Dave Logan and Steve Duffy as premium partnership sales managers.

Awards and Boards
The Club Managers Association of America elected Damon DiOrio president, Tony D’Errico vice president, Jill Philmon secretary/treasurer and Richard Bayliss Jr. immediate past president. Mark Bado, Robert James, Todd Marsh and Richard Spurlin were elected or re-elected as directors.

Evolution Sports Partners named former University of Georgia President Michael Adams, former University of Central Florida Athletic Director Keith Tribble, former Georgia Dome senior sales executive Mike Springfield, former University of Georgia associate athletic director of external operations Dave Muia, former University of Alabama retention director Jennifer Jones and American Management Strategy principal Annie Nelson to its professional advisory board.

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America elected Keith Ihms president. Ihms is director of grounds maintenance at the Country Club of Little Rock (Ark.).

The Springfield (Mo.) Sports Commission named Janel Wilder to its board of directors.

The Sports Turf Managers Association elected David Pinsonneault president, Allen Johnson president-elect, James Michael Goatley Jr. immediate past president, James Graff commercial vice president, Jeff Salmond secretary/treasurer, Tim Van Loo higher education director, Sarah Martin parks and recreation director, Jeffrey Fowler academic director and Bradley Jakubowski elected-at-large director. Director at-large Mike Tarantino and commercial director Doug Schattinger were appointed to the board.

The U.S. Golf Association elected Thomas O’Toole Jr. president, Daniel Burton and Diana Murphy vice presidents, William Katz secretary and Mark Newell treasurer. G. Thomas Hough, Asuka Nakahara and George Still Jr. are new members of the executive committee. Additionally, the USGA announced its annual service award winners. Michael Cumberpatch received the Joe Dey Award, Peter Dernoeden received the Green Section Award and Jeff Silverman received the Herbert Warren Wind Book Award.

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.

Premiere gathering for ‘Big Break Florida’

Cast members of the Golf Channel reality show “Big Break Florida” gathered at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia on Feb. 19 for an airing of the premiere episode: Lauren Sullivan, Mary Narzisi, Kylee Duede, Sadena Parks, Jackie Stoelting and Lindsay Aho. In the back row are Paul Eckert of Omni Scottsdale Resort and Paul Schlegel and Jay Kossoff of Golf Channel.

Suited up for the SI Swimsuit soiree

SI managing editor Chris Stone, model Chrissy Teigen, Swimsuit editor M.J. Day, models Lily Aldridge and Nina Agdal and SI Publisher Brendan Ripp attend the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 50 Years of Swim in NYC Celebration at the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Beach House Feb. 18 in New York City.

NBA Yao School opens in Beijing

Former NBA star Yao Ming and NBA China CEO David Shoemaker present a basketball to Billy Singleton of the NBA Yao School at the school’s opening ceremony Feb. 22 in Beijing.
Photo by: NBA CHINA

Bear with them

Johnny Morris of Bass Pro Shops and PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem were among those on hand Feb. 25 for the announcement that Morris’ Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Mo., will play host to the Champions Tour’s Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf in June.

Opening night for SportsNet LA

TWC Sports’ Dan Finnerty, TWC Sports Regional Networks’ Mark Shuken, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Bob Wolfe and Peter Guber and TWC Sports’ David Rone celebrate the launch of SportsNet LA, the new home of the Dodgers, on Feb. 25.

A 3M introduction

Roush Fenway Racing founder, CEO and co-owner Jack Roush (in hat) and 3M Racing NASCAR driver Greg Biffle (speaking) unveil the 3M Mobile Innovation Center during the Daytona 500 weekend at Daytona International Speedway.

Amway’s in the game

Tyler Kupper of USA Today Sports Media Group, Andy Gamm of Amway North America and Bill Norris of Norris Sports Group unveiled Amway’s new deal with USA Today Sports Media Group as title sponsor of the group’s college football coaches’ poll and the AFCA Coaches’ Trophy on Feb. 19.
Photo by: AMWAY

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.

Prior to founding boutique investment bank Accelerate Sports in October, Brent Lawrence spent 20 years as a mergers and acquisitions attorney. Accelerate Sports aims to specialize in sports M&A, with a focus on teams, technology and other sports-related businesses. Among its first projects, Lawrence said, is helping a lower-tier soccer franchise in its efforts to become an MLS club. He talks here about MLS and about other developing trends he sees across the industry.

Time has proven that the scarcity, energy and ‘coolness’ of team ownership will continue to drive valuations up indefinitely.

Team valuations in pro sports: We had the worst economic crisis in the modern era from 2008 to 2012, yet, on the average, franchise valuations continued to increase, although at lower rates than in prior years. Now that the economy is on a positive upswing, more people have disposable income to spend on entertainment, so the television rights deals continue to grow hand in hand with team valuations. There’s essentially inelastic demand for teams, and that’s not going to change in our lifetimes.

Technology and sports: Talk about a revolution. In the last 10 years, technology and sports have literally converged. This convergence and the enhanced interactivity and connectivity that technology has given us to the games, the players and our social networks will only continue to explode. While at times it can divert our focus away from the action on the playing surface, technology is the catalyst for sports to reach a much broader audience.

MLS’s plan to expand to 24 clubs by 2020: Soccer is here, America, and it’s just going to continue to grow at an incredible rate in the next 10 to 20 years. Considering the growth of the other major leagues in the past 25 years, the outlook for MLS is very promising because it will continue to meet a growing demand for “American” soccer. The leadership team at MLS is exceptional and they’re doing all the right things.

The case for publicly funded facilities: Often the biggest challenge in developing a new arena or stadium is the resistance from the non-sports enthusiasts in a given city with the opinion that the city should not participate in helping “billionaire” owners make more money. This continues to baffle me. Recent history has shown us in L.A., San Diego, San Francisco, Denver and numerous other cities how a new facility economically invigorates the downtown urban core. These new facilities have created more jobs, tourism, public transportation, sales tax revenue and other benefits that other investments simply cannot create. If all stakeholders take a proactive “win-win” approach towards growth, every city considering an investment in a new facility can find a way to make it work.

— Christopher Botta


What I Like …

The 10-team SWAC tips off its postseason basketball tourneys next week at the Toyota Center in Houston.
An insight: A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.

An influential person in my career: Robert Vowels, director of athletics at the University of Detroit Mercy.

A timeless idea: Saying “please” and “thank you.”

A business deal: Moving the SWAC football and basketball championships to Houston.

A sports facility: Reliant Stadium; Camp Randall, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

A sports event: 1983 NBA Finals, May 31. Sixers won the world championship, sweeping the Lakers.

Southwestern Athletic Conference

Where I'm from: Camden, N.J.
Where I Went to School: B.A. and M.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison.
My First Job: Newspaper delivery. My paper route was on a bike, and I delivered the Courier-Post (South Jersey and Philly).

A strategy: Whatever project, no matter the level of relevance, do it with ethics, excellence and the end in mind.

A hire: Larry Scott as commissioner of the Pac-12 Conference.

A brand: Nike is the brand I admire most because of their marketing vision. They were way ahead of their time.

A pro league or team business initiative: The $310 million redesign and renovation of

Reliant Stadium
Rupp Arena.

A story that bears watching: The NCAA is at a critical point in regards to how we run as an organization. There are rules that not just the big five conferences must follow, but all of us.

What I Like about …

My job: Transforming the SWAC over the past six years and creating an atmosphere of accountability, compliance and fiscal responsibility.

Sports: Competition creates an opportunity to showcase natural ability while developing character, mental toughness and resiliency.

Sports business: Allows sports business-minded sports enthusiasts to live out their dreams by combining something they are good at with something that they love.

Sports technology: Has changed the way we do business. Information is a click away, so decisions affecting our day-to-day operations can be settled within hours instead of weeks.

Competing: If you’re not getting better, the other conference is. Competition fuels me like nothing else. It is what makes you stay up late and get up early.

The future of sports business: Build a better in-game experience to get the fans to attend the events live and in-person.

What I Would Like To …

Change: The opportunities that rising minorities have in gaining athletic administration experience. The numbers are staggering in regards to how many minorities are in decision-making positions.

Change in what I do: Be more aggressive in regards to building our brand.

See: My son happy and smiling.

See less of in sports business (collegiately): Less division between high- and low-revenue entities.

See different: More financial support for HBCUs and other limited-resource institutions.

Eliminate: Unsportsmanlike celebrations. Taunting, etc.

What I Don’t Like …

In general: Complainers.

Pet peeve: People who text while driving.

In sports: The source who wished to remain anonymous.

In business: People who are not men or women of their word.


What I Like …

That would surprise those who know me: That I wanted to teach history before I got into athletics.

About myself: I’m serene — never too high, never too low. Always cool and calm.

Heroes: Parents and grandparents.

Derek Jeter

Players: Derek Jeter, first class from day one and was “clutch” when needed.

Teams: Wisconsin Badgers, Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls.

Possession: My collection of Air Jordan sneakers and a ticket stub from my first Bulls game when Jordan was playing.

Memento: My banner from the inaugural Big Ten basketball tournament.

Time of year: Summer, because I get to take my son swimming.

Books: “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,” by John C. Maxwell, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” by Patrick Lencioni and “How I Play Golf,” by Tiger Woods.

Magazines: Harvard Business Review and GQ.

Apps: Google Maps, Fuel Band and LinkedIn.

Hobbies: Reading, watching old movies and keeping up with my 3-year-old.

Mary J. Blige

Movies:“The Color Purple,” “Road to Perdition” and “The Outlaw Josey Wales.”

TV: “True Detective,” “My Wife and Kids” and “Boardwalk Empire.”

Concerts: Jill Scott, Justin Timberlake and Alex Bugnon.

Artist: Dana C. Chandler and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Dessert: Apple pie.

Drink: Mean Green (just getting into juicing).

Singer: Mary J. Blige, Nina Simone and Laura Nyro.

Quote: “To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”