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Volume 21 No. 1

People and Pop Culture


The Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx named Kenny Koperda inside sales manager. Koperda was a premium seating executive for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Atlantic 10 named Mike Vest associate commissioner for external affairs. Vest was director of digital assets and university partnerships for IMG College.

Arizona State University named David Cohen and Scottie Graham senior associate athletic directors. Cohen was director of new stadium sales for the Minnesota Vikings’ new stadium project for Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment. Graham was director of player engagement for the NFL Players Association.

Geneva College named Van Zanic athletic director.

Jacksonville University named Donnie Horner chief athletics officer. Horner was chief government and community affairs officer and professor of management at the school.

The University of South Florida named Irele Oderinde director of athletic performance. Oderinde was coordinator of strength and conditioning for the football program at West Virginia University.


Delaware North Cos. Boston, operators of the TD Garden, named Ricky Casady director of box office and ticket operations for the arena, the Boston Bruins and The Premium Club at TD Garden. Casady was regional director of ticket operations for Live Nation.

The Fiesta Bowl selected Andy Western as a member of the Fiesta Bowl Committee. Western is an attorney with Osborn Maledon in Phoenix.

The Seattle Seahawks promoted Jeff Dunn to vice president of business strategy and analytics.

The New York Jets named Roberto Beltramini vice president of premium partnerships, sales and service. Beltramini was senior director of premium sales for the New York Mets.

Manulife Financial LPGA Classic tournament director Richard Kuypers resigned.

The Phoenix Coyotes promoted Tim Bernhardt to director of amateur scouting and Jeff Twohey to assistant director of amateur scouting.

The New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center named Brian Fisher director of public relations. Fisher was director of public relations for MSG Networks.

People news
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Enhancing the experience at Chicagoland

Comcast SportsNet Chicago’s Phil Bedella, the Chicago Cubs’ Tom Ricketts, Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway’s Scott Paddock, KemperLesnik’s Tom Valdiserri and Horrow Sports’ Rick Horrow gather for a panel at Chicagoland Speedway. The panel discussed enhancing the live event experience on June 17 as part of Rick Horrow’s Sports Business Insider Series.

Winning World Cup atmosphere

Norris Sports Group’s Dior Santos and Bill Norris take a break from client programs in Brazil to enjoy the World Cup. They attended the opening match in São Paulo on June 12.

Vitale honored at Seton Hall

ESPN’s Dick Vitale (left) receives the Humanitarian Award at Seton Hall University’s “Many Are One” annual alumni awards event in East Hanover, N.J. With him June 13 was Seton Hall University President A. Gabriel Esteban.

Smith and Sherr share USTA plans

Lew Sherr (left), U.S. Tennis Association chief revenue officer, and Gordon Smith, USTA executive director and chief operating officer, discuss renovation plans at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center with SBJ/SBD staff during a June 16 visit to Charlotte.

Clubbin’ with Derek Jeter

The PGA of America leadership present New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter with a set of custom golf clubs and bag at Yankee Stadium. With Jeter on June 4 were President Ted Bishop, CEO Pete Bevacqua, COO Darrell Crall and Chief Championships Officer Kerry Haigh.

Final act at MSG

“White Collar” co-stars Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman attend Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, which was played June 11 at Madison Square Garden.

Hall of fame inducts 2014 class

The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inducts its Class of 2014: Charlotte West, Jasmina Perazic, Yolanda Griffith, Mimi Griffin, Michelle Edwards and Lin Dunn. The ceremony took place June 14 in Knoxville, Tenn.

WISE celebrates 20th anniversary

WISE (Women In Sports and Events) celebrated its 20th anniversary by honoring industry veterans with the WISE Women of Distinction Award. Honored at the annual luncheon in New York on June 17 by WISE and Kathleen Francis, WISE president (second from left), were Barbara Paddock, JPMorgan Chase senior vice president; Judy Sweet, Alliance of Women Coaches co-founder and board of directors president; and Christine Driessen, ESPN executive vice president and CFO. Also honored, but not pictured: Big East Conference Commissioner Val Ackerman.
Photo by: WISE

NFF recognizes Duke’s Kevin White

Steve Hatchell (left), National Football Foundation president and CEO, presents Kevin White, Duke University VP and athletic director, with a personalized football during the recent NACDA Convention in Orlando. White will be honored with the foundation’s John L. Toner Award for excellence in athletics administration at the organization’s 57th annual awards dinner Dec. 9.

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.

Starting with his first job counting coins, there was little doubt John Hondros had a future in the banking industry. After helping create the motorsports division for SunTrust Banks, Hondros now hopes to lead the bank into new sports ventures as senior vice president and managing director of the sports and entertainment group. Hondros spoke with staff writer Bryan Ives.

Age: 46
New title: Senior vice president, managing director of sports and entertainment group, SunTrust Banks
Previous title: Market manager and client adviser, SunTrust Banks
First job: “My grandfather owned a vending company, and he offered me a job sitting in the company’s vault counting coins, so clearly I was supposed to have a banking career.”
College education: Public administration major, business administration minor, Elon University, 1997.
Resides: Cornelius, N.C., with wife Brooke, two boys ages 9 and 7, and two golden retrievers.
Grew up: Winston-Salem, N.C.
Executive most admired: “The first bank I worked for had a CEO who told me that success at home had a direct impact on success in the workplace, and I’ve never forgotten those words.”
Brand most admired: Krispy Kreme
Favorite vacation spot: Harbor Island, Bahamas
Last book read: “The Energy Bus,” by Jon Gordon
Last movie seen: “Captain Phillips”
Favorite movie: “Wedding Crashers”
Favorite musician/band: “Edwin McCain. He actually played at our wedding 12 years ago.”

What will be the biggest challenge in your new position?
At SunTrust our mission is to help light the way to financial well-being for clients, and in the case of professional athletes that means helping them spend and invest their money wisely. In many cases their careers are much shorter than it would be in other industries.

What is the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?
Starting the motorsports group for SunTrust was a huge risk because the niche had not yet been carved out. This was uncharted territory, and we weren’t sure if the motorsports community would respond with open arms. It’s also moving from Winston-Salem to Charlotte. While this wasn’t a big geographic move, I was moving from all I knew, all of my family, friends and a very comfortable working environment, and my wife was four months pregnant with our first child. I’ll never forget that. However, we did achieve amazing success, and I’m proud of where the motorsports group is right now and what we’ve accomplished on behalf of our clients.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
Organically growing the motorsports group from zero to 500 private wealth clients allowed me to broaden our reach beyond motorsports and assist individuals in various sports and entertainment categories. Just as important to me is my clients trust me.

What is your biggest professional disappointment?
I was recruited and mentored by Brian Williams, who created the SunTrust sports and entertainment group. Unfortunately Brian died two years after hiring me. While I know he’d be proud of our group and our growth, I’m certain we would’ve forged many new paths at SunTrust. He was an incredible asset.

What career advice do you have for people wanting to get into the sports industry?
Keep up with the latest developments and trends as it relates to your career interests and don’t lose sight of history and what it took to build a specific sport or entity within the sport.

What is the one element you would like to see changed about the sports industry?
A serious cut in the cost of racing combined with a few rule changes so more teams and team owners could survive. I think it’d be good for the sport. I would say start with the engines. I know there is already a lot of focus on the issue.

After coaching his eldest son’s soccer team, Ed Foster-Simeon found himself getting more and more involved in the game. The longtime USA Today editor wound up volunteering as the president of a club team and later for the state association. In 2008, the U.S. Soccer Foundation tapped him to become its president. He has worked since then to create more opportunities for urban and underserved communities to play the game. The organization plans to make the most of this summer’s World Cup to raise awareness for its programs and increase donations.

When you’re talking about lower-income communities, where the social infrastructure isn’t there to provide organized sports, cost barriers and safety issues can be a huge issue. If you don’t create safe places that parents know there’s programming for those children, it’s difficult for them to envision having those opportunities.

Why he joined the foundation: I saw what the game does for children. I saw the confidence it gave my own [four] children: the ability to be leaders, to learn teamwork and collaboration, persistence in the face of obstacles. The game can make a real difference in communities and people’s lives.

How World Cup interest affects  fundraising: [We] leverage it to continue our work at the grassroots level and particularly to create opportunities to reach underserved communities. We’re doing viewing parties. [Former U.S national team captain] Claudio Reyna and I sat on a panel at Goldman Sachs’ headquarters in New York. We’re doing a program with Johnson & Johnson, a donate-a-photo campaign, in which people donate a photo to Johnson & Johnson, and it results in a donation to the foundation.

About the headway the foundation has made with soccer in urban areas: When I started, we didn’t have a specific program trying to deliver the game in urban communities. We’ve gone from zero to 19,000 kids in 25 cities who are engaged in ongoing [soccer-participation] programs.

How soccer coverage has changed since his time as deputy managing editor at USA Today (1999 to 2008): USA Today was out in front in soccer coverage, and it’s grown over time, but if you look at front pages on Tuesday morning after the U.S. victory [over Ghana last week], the idea 25 years ago that soccer would be the dominant art or dominant headline, people would have laughed. The media covers what’s happening, and what has been happening is the game is growing incredibly in popularity. You can’t ignore it. You have to cover it.

— Tripp Mickle

I n the mid-90s, I had a great life running Carnegie Mellon drama traveling the country auditioning young people who wanted to pursue the dream of becoming an actor.

There was a group of young people and I said, “Let’s play a game,” because I was getting a very strange vibe. … “It is Friday night, money is no object, how many of you on your own volition will go see live theater?” and maybe 25 to 30 percent of the hands went up.

I said, “All right, how many of you would go to [the] cinema? More hands went up. Then the pièce de résistance. “How many of you would prefer to order two supreme pizzas from Domino’s, a case of beer and sit at home playing video games,” and practically every hand went up.

I thought there has been a revolution occurring right in front of us, and we seem to have two options. We’re either going to go with it or we’re going to become those old-fart professors who say, “Young people today just don’t appreciate the theater the way we do.”

One of the greatest revelations to me is that when I look out at these young people I see the kind of person I wanted to be when we were that revolutionary generation rebelling against the structure of post-war America.

They are a technophile generation. What does technophile mean? A love, desire, interest in technology. How many of you can’t live without your phone? You’re dinosaurs. They are so far beyond us now and if we’re wise, we’re taking a look at what technology they are subsumed with.

They view technology as a procedural medium. It is a procedural medium that facilities participation.

Nothing will indicate how old you are [more than] if you see your kid on the phone and you’re thinking, “This kid is just enamored with the phone.” You missed the point.

The phone is a means to an end. I’m 61 years old and I might have, after all these years of life, five close friends. My daughter is 27. She must have 1,500 friends and she is in touch with them.

The idea that they are somehow antisocial is our own myopia creeping up. You have to realize that technology is a procedural medium that affords the pleasure of agency. … What does agency mean? Agency is a geek term that says empowerment.

Why do you think video games are now a much bigger entertainment than movies and television combined? Because of interactivity, because of agency. Agency means what? You make a decision through technology and the world responds to you.

The world I grew up with, the closest we got to that was called voting.

I call it the deistic principles. They are omnipresent. They are online all the time. They are omniscient. We call it Wikipedia. It’s omnipresent in the sense that it’s Wi-Fi connectivity.

We’re saying to them, “by the way, class is Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 1:00 to 1:50.” No wonder they’re laughing at us.

No wonder online education is now so infringing upon traditional education that all the colleges and universities are running scared and I’m like, “Run scared. Please do run scared.” The model we have is not working for them.

They do expect ubiquitous, i.e., pervasive connectivity.

They are a post-literate, experiential-focused generation. They don’t read and here is the amazing thing. They don’t read and how can they be so smart? Because there are so many other ways in which we are gathering information.

One of the things I love now at PNC Park is the science of baseball. It’s like we’re finally realizing that if we want to turn out a generation that is more in tune with science, go to sport. Use the science of sport and don’t be half-pregnant. Do it all the way. Go in there and teach it.

It is so often the case that the existing institutions, we want to tiptoe. I’ve had clients going, “We want to be high-tech, just not too high-tech.” “We want to be on the cutting edge, just not too cutting edge.” Go for the gusto or don’t go at all.

They understand finances better than we do. Why? Because they’re leaving college with student loan debt saying, “Wait a minute, what is this about?”

They are questioning the historical dynamics that we have given them, and I think it’s time that they do so.

What do I love about them? Tremendously heightened expectations about the future. They are the generation that we aspired to be in being able to say, “Well, if you can imagine it, why can’t you do it?”