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Volume 21 No. 6

People and Pop Culture

 Where are consumers going for content? And will be money keep flowing for sports?

We talked to six execs about the challenges facing the industry:

  • Mark Tatum -- NBA
  • Alexa Linger -- Navigate Research
  • Steve Wyche -- NFL Network
  • Berkeley Egenes -- NextVR
  • David Dreschlack -- NBC Sports Regional Networks
  • Jeff Marks -- IPG360

The Oakland Athletics named Ashwin Puri vice president of strategy and business operations. Puri was chief revenue officer and senior associate athletic director at the University of California, Berkeley.

The New Orleans Baby Cakes named Paul Kleinhans-Schulz director of ticket sales, Daniel Straney group sales manager, Alex Rankin box office manager, Kyle Guille corporate sales executive, Kyle Hamer account executive and Patrick Vath account executive.

The Atlanta Hawks named Marcus Wasdin chief information officer. Wasdin held the same position for Church’s Chicken.

The Phoenix Suns named former NBA player James Jones vice president of basketball operations.

The New York Knicks hired Gerald Madkins as assistant general manager. Madkins held the same position with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Florida Gulf Coast University promoted Graham Diemer to associate athletic director for advancement.

Boston College hired Vaughn Williams as senior associate athletic director for administration and Jocelyn Fisher Gates as senior associate athletic director and senior woman administrator. Williams was athletic director at Kennesaw State University, and Gates was senior associate athletic director and senior woman administrator at the University of South Florida.

East Carolina University named Phillip Wood senior associate athletic director and executive director of the Pirate Club. Wood was associate executive director for the Wolfpack Club at North Carolina State University.

Roger Williams University named Kristin Jacobs athletic director. Jacobs was associate athletic director for Springfield College.

Seton Hall University promoted Christopher Carl to associate athletic director for marketing, Thomas Chen to associate athletic director for digital media and communications, Brian Connor to assistant athletic director for equipment operations, Cameron Harty to assistant athletic director for facilities and operations, Jay Judge to associate athletic director for development, Alex Keddie to associate athletic director for compliance, Loren Peterson to associate athletic director for business affairs, and Roberto Sasso to associate athletic director for student-athlete development.

The Atlantic Coast Conference named Ron Cherry special adviser. Cherry was an ACC football referee.

The College of the Holy Cross named Allison Crandall assistant athletic director for content and digital strategy. Crandall was assistant athletic director for communications for Bryant University.

The Pac-12 Conference hired Laura Hazlett as chief financial officer and promoted Erik Hardenbergh to chief of staff and Andrew Walker to vice president of public affairs. Hazlett was chief financial and administrative officer for the California College of Arts.

The University of Illinois-Chicago named Garrett Klassy athletic director. Klassy was senior associate athletic director for external relations at George Washington University.

Fort Lewis College named Barney Hinkle athletic director and promoted Lynne Andrew to senior associate athletic director. Hinkle was vice president of business development at The Marketing Arm.

The Frisco Bowl hired Sean Johnson as executive director. Johnson was account executive and partnerships director for Fox Sports Southwest.

The Southland Conference named John Williams deputy commissioner, Bruce Ludlow associate commissioner for sports operations and Thomas Samuel assistant commissioner for compliance services, and promoted Edd Henderson to senior associate commissioner for internal operations, Jenny McGhee to senior associate commissioner for external operations, Chris Mycoskie to associate commissioner for broadcast and new media, John Payne to director of business operations, Travis Day to information director and Jeremy Villanueva to assistant information director.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham named Katreshia Louis-Verrett senior associate athletic director and senior woman administrator. Louis-Verrett was senior woman administrator for North Carolina A&T State University.

The University of Michigan named Matt Dudek director of football recruiting. Dudek was general manager and director of player personnel for the University of Arizona.

The University of Pittsburgh hired Brendan Fouracre as executive associate athletic director for capital planning and projects and facility and event operations. Fouracre was senior associate athletic director for facilities and operations for the University of Cincinnati.

Virginia Tech University named Brad Wurthman senior associate athletic director for external operations. Wurthman was associate athletic director of marketing and fan development at the University of Illinois.

Echo Fox named Jared Jeffries president. Jeffries was director of player personnel for the Denver Nuggets.

The PlayStation Fiesta Bowl named Scott Leightman senior director of communications and Jackie Hobson communications coordinator. Leightman was director of communication and public relations for USA Swimming.

The Maxwell Football Club named former NFLer Shawn Wooden chairman and promoted Mark Dianno to president and chief executive officer after Ron Jaworski stepped down as chairman and president.

The Denver Broncos hired Dan Hawley as senior director of corporate partnerships. Hawley was vice president of national sales for Learfield Sports.

The New Orleans Saints named Ryan Herman football analyst. Herman was director of football administration for the Miami Dolphins.

The NFL named Jonathan Nabavi vice president of public policy and government affairs. Nabavi was majority counsel for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Carolina Panthers fired director of player personnel Mark Koncz.

The Denver Broncos hired former player Steve Atwater as fan development manager and insider for

The Green Bay Packers promoted Jason McDonough to director of ticketing and premium seating.

The New York Jets promoted Brian Heimerdinger to vice president of player personnel.


The Houston Golf Association named Russ Evans senior director of sales. Evans was director of media and corporate partnerships for the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic.

The TPC Network named Bill Hughes regional director of operations. Hughes was general manager of TPC Sawgrass.

The NHL named Brian Cull group vice president of business development and hired Evin Dobson as group vice president of partnership marketing and Jaka Lednik as group vice president of international strategy. Dobson was a Momentum Worldwide vice president and director of business leadership, and Lednik was a principal with the Boston Consulting Group.

USA Hockey named Andrea Mazzarelli communications manager and Pat Durant digital content coordinator. Mazzarelli was communications coordinator for the USOC, and Durant was media relations assistant for athletics at Ohio University.

The New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center named Michelle McCarthy director of entertainment marketing, Starr Butler director of special events, Jason Gonella vice president of premium partnerships and Dan Spiegel vice president of marketing.

The Colorado Mammoth promoted Dan Carey to general manager.

Foley & Lardner added Michael Wall as counsel in the firm’s sports industry team. Wall was executive vice president of general counsel and corporate secretary at Performance Sports Group.


GMR Marketing named Ryan Ritter vice president of business development. Ritter was associate director of strategic accounts for C Space.

Innovative Partnerships Group hired Ian Shapiro as director for valuation and analytics.

SportBox Entertainment Group hired Francisco Terreros as executive vice president of global soccer. Terreros was principal of Os Group.

The Aspire Group named Kenneth Rubongoya senior service consultant and Ryan Morehouse group sales consultant of the University of Maryland, Taylor Forlano manager of sales and service at the University of Pennsylvania, Ryan Beckner and Kristi Lawless sales consultants at Army West Point, Azia Evans national sales associate, Grayson Heath service consultant and Chad Wilkinson database marketing and analytics coordinator at the University of Denver, and Mark Sutcliffe and Steven Vogelgesang sales consultants and Michael Valacer database marketing and analytics coordinator at Miami University.

CAA China named Mary Gu Shuhang chief executive officer. Gu was regional president for East Asia for the Special Olympics.

Berk Communications hired Melanie Wadden as vice president of sports and entertainment. Wadden was director of public relations at Select Sports Group.

Intrepid Marketing Group named Caitlin Carey digital media coordinator, Joseph Lowe account executive and Missy White senior account executive.

ESPN hired Travis Howe as senior vice president of digital ad product sales and strategy. Howe was executive vice president and general manager of global platform solutions for Mediaocean.

Bleacher Report hired Howard Mittman as chief revenue officer and chief marking officer. Mittman was chief business officer at Conde Nast.

Learfield’s UNLV property named Dan Dolby general manager; Jay Vickers, Beau Orth and Joey Swanner managers of business development; and Savannah Stallworth manager of marketing and branding. Learfield’s Illinois State University property hired Larry Hoepfner as general manger and Ryan Randall as manager of business development.

Tennis Channel named Steve Disson head of new business development, sponsorships. Disson was chief executive officer at Disson Sports & Entertainment.

Univision President of Ad Sales and Marketing Keith Turner plans to retire at the end of the year.

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports named Jon Flack president. Flack was global chief operations officer and president of the Americas for JMI.

Texas Motor Speedway hired Jason Wonderly as vice president of sales. Wonderly was director of marketing partnerships and new business at Team Penske.

The U.S. Olympic Committee named Nicole Deal chief security officer and David Zodikoff chief information officer. Deal is a former regional security officer for the U.S. Department of State, and Zodikoff was chief information officer at Association Member Benefits Advisors.

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.

Mark O’Brien took over as president of Mizuno USA in January, two years after joining the sporting goods firm. In April, the company opened its first Mizuno Experience Center. The 4,000-square-foot high-tech retail space is part of The Battery Atlanta, the mixed-use district next to SunTrust Park, the Braves’ new stadium. The store uses video technology in a “laboratory” setting to separate itself from traditional retailers.

The experience center is proving to be a great tool to give the consumer of today a true experience and immersion, unlike traditional retail.

On the new store: From a consumer standpoint, it’s knocking it out of the park. I think what they’re really looking for is a different type of retail environment. What they’re telling us is that they get that combination of product experience and overall brand immersion … in an environment that isn’t just flat walls and product that you’re tripping over. You can go deep in any direction that you like. You can speak to a specialist in a swing lab about your golf club swing, or if you really want to understand the right running performance footwear and do a foot analysis in our run lab. It’s taking retail to a completely different experience level, and that’s what’s exciting for us.

Mark O'Brien.
The strategy behind the concept: One of the things we want to do is build the brand from our home market [in Atlanta] outward. We’ve been here in North America since the early ’80s, but there’s a lot of people that still aren’t familiar with Mizuno. The concept itself was “Let’s not just do a retail or outlet store. Let’s develop a premium experience for the consumer and use it as a beacon to tell our story nationally and globally.” That’s what we’re seeing happen. It’s one tactic we’re leveraging in a broader strategy to build our brand across the country.

On competing against online sports retail: Everyone is in search of what’s next due to the penetration of online buying. There’s still a need for an experience beyond just a “click and ship.” The other piece we’ve added to the experience center is the endless aisle, where even if it’s not in store, there are kiosks throughout the store so the consumer can find anything that we might have and we can help them source it and ship it in a matter of days. That’s the new reality. Consumers expect to receive products immediately because so many experience it on a daily basis now.

On Mizuno’s “Rent a Glove” kiosk inside SunTrust Park: Again, it speaks to experiences and that emotional connection that consumers can have with the brand. You can check out a ball glove for free [by leaving a credit card number], so if you forget your glove or don’t have one with you, no problem. We’re surprised at how many adults have been attracted to it. Sometimes they return the glove and sometimes they come by and want to purchase it. The first woman who checked one out caught a home run [at the April 14 regular-season opener] and that’s a lifetime memory that Mizuno is now a part of. She posted a picture on her social channels; her eyes are beaming with excitement.

                                                                                                                               — Don Muret

The Belfast follow-through

Taking a swing during the unveiling of GolfNow’s new offices on July 18 in central Belfast, Northern Ireland: Mark Ennis, chairman, Invest Northern Ireland; Mike McCarley, NBC Sports president of golf; Brian Smith, GolfNow vice president of international; and his brother Rory Smith, GolfNow vice president of technology. Technology company GolfNow is owned and operated by Golf Channel and part of the NBC Sports Group.
Securing a lifetime achievement award

Larry Buendorf (left), U.S. Olympic Committee chief security officer, receives the National Center for Spectator Sport Safety and Security Lifetime Achievement Award from center Director Lou Marciani at the organization’s conference last month in Orlando.
Photo by: NCS4
Olympic Channel go for launch

In New York to promote the Olympic Channel, which launched July 15: Gary Zenkel of NBC Olympics, Olympic Channel Services GM Mark Parkman, NBC Olympics prime-time host Mike Tirico, the USOC’s Lisa Baird and Jim Bell of NBC Olympics.
Queen City kickoff

College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock and ACC Commissioner John Swofford attend the ACC Football Kickoff last month in Charlotte.
Photo by: ACC
Prokhorov a good sport for ‘Russia Week’

Mikhail Prokhorov of Onexim Sports & Entertainment — owner of Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets and the Long Island Nets — appeared on CBS’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” July 19 in a segment called “Lessons on How to Live the Oligarch Lifestyle from Russian Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov” as part of Colbert’s “Russia Week.”
UFL World Cup on the boardwalk

At the first Urban Fitness League World Cup event July 4 at the Ford Amphitheater on the Coney Island Boardwalk: UFL World Cup coach Mike Rashid, UFL China President Stephon Marbury, Leverage Agency CEO and UFL founder Ben Sturner, and event host Mario Lopez.
‘Mud, sweat and beer’ at anniversary

Red Frog Events, parent company of Warrior Dash, celebrates the first National Obstacle Course Racing Day on July 18 in its Chicago office “with a day full of mud, sweat and beer.” The day commemorated the first running of the Warrior Dash in 2009.
Award winners at the Hall

At an induction ceremony at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., on July 30: hall President Jeff Idelson, MLB Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig, hall Chairman Jane Forbes Clark and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.
Rachel Robinson, winner of the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award; Claire Smith, winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for baseball writing; and Kathleen Lowenthal, who accepted the Ford C. Frick Award on behalf of her stepfather, longtime A’s radio broadcaster Bill King, who died in 2005.

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.


What I like …


An insight: Just like traditional media, social media has to be evaluated on quality, not quantity. That’s true even for huge athletes and brands with millions of followers. The average percentage of social media followers for a particular organization or individuals who are engaged or interacting is 6 percent.

An influential person in my career: Emma Carrasco, the CMO at National Geographic, who was my manager at Nortel, where I spent 11 years before getting into sports marketing at OnSport. She showed me in a tech world, which was almost as male-dominated as sports, how to be a leader, be respected and still be effective as a woman. Back then, most female leaders felt they had to be the stereotypical bitch-on-wheels. She was not.

Elizabeth Lindsey
Managing partner
, Wasserman

What I Do: Head the marketing division, which includes brands and properties (which includes consulting), events and experiential, our international offices, along with research and insights.
Where I’m From: Roxboro, N.C. (current residence: Chapel Hill).
Where I Went to School: Proud Tar Heel — B.A. in broadcast journalism, master’s in mass communications theory and research.
My First Job: Ran the layaway department at Rose’s, a local department store, during the holidays.

An out-of-the-box idea: Putting together American Express and the USGA. When we did it (2005) it was something the USGA had never done before and it was in the works, in one form or another, for around 10 years. The USGA had to be convinced that commercial partners could help them advance their own cause.

A timeless idea: Honesty. When you Google “negotiation,” the images are all people beating each other up. My favorite deal to do with a partner is the second, because then they know how we work.

A business deal: I’m fascinated by AT&T, DirecTV, and what’s going to happen with Time Warner. It could completely change the way content is created and push us into a mobile-first entertainment world.

The O2 in London
A sports facility: The O2. I am a venue junkie, and it was the venue that was never supposed to happen and it did. Now it’s one of the premier arenas on the planet.

A brand: Microsoft. What they did with Surface tablets on NFL sidelines was legitimately game changing. And I maintain that technology companies are the new endemic sponsors in sports.

An innovation: Mobile payments are an innovation I could not live without.

A pro league or team business initiative: When Cleveland and Veritix first got into paperless ticketing, it was a brilliant answer that people had been looking for forever. It was simple but backed by strong and deep CRM.

An idea or invention I wish I had thought of: Comfortable high-heeled shoes, but no one has invented those yet.

A fantasy job: Movie producer. I love sports from the business side, but my passion is movies.

What I like about …

Sports: I like how much consumers love it. From that perspective, it’s a brand marketer’s dream.

Sports business: It’s all relationship-based, so it should be all about building those.

Sports technology: As long as it makes things better for fans, it’s valuable. Otherwise …

The future of sports business: The passion isn’t going away, even if the way fans consume sports changes.

What I would like to …

See: More diversity in this industry. We’ve done a good job on that here; I’d like to see more of that across sports.

See more of in sports: Diversity.

See more of in sports business: Diversity.

Eliminate: The 75-mile radius rule for marketing teams. It’s been irrelevant for 10 years because of the internet.

What don’t like …

Pet peeve: Lines. There are too many of them at sports venues.

In business: There’s way too much “that’s how it’s been done” thinking.

About sports fans: Back to respecting their passion, except for Duke fans. We can do without them.

Mia Hamm


What I Like …

That would surprise those who know me: I can read tarot cards. Have since I was 13. I don’t necessarily believe in them, but they can be fun in business or at a party.

Heroes: My mother, who taught me how to survive anything.

Players: Michael Jordan and Mia Hamm: both Tar Heels, and both the best ever.

Teams: When I was pregnant, I negotiated with my husband for which teams my (forthcoming) son would be raised on. I actually allowed my husband to turn my son into an N.C. State Wolfpack fan, in exchange for the Atlanta Braves.

City: Domestically, Chapel Hill; overseas, I am a massive fan of Prague.


Memento: I have every concert ticket I ever had — before paperless ticketing.

Music: Jimmy Buffett. More than 50 shows, and it may even be pushing 100. My first date with my husband was a Buffett concert.

Magazines: I read US Weekly for a long time — it actually gave me a lot of marketing ideas. Now I love Real Simple and National Geographic Traveler.

Trips: Italy is my summer family vacation destination this year; we try to get to one new place in the U.S. and internationally every year.

Movies: “Grease.” Watched more than 500 times — I can quote it. Other than that: “Grosse Pointe Blank,” “Pulp Fiction.”

Concerts: The very first concert I bought tickets for was Duran Duran. My mom wouldn’t let me go, so I had to sell them. So when they reunited and toured when I was 30, I made my mom buy me those tickets as a replacement.

Artist: Old school: Matisse. Contemporary: Banksy.

Scent: Anais Anais. Been wearing it since I was 16.

Singer: Outside of Buffett, I am a huge fan of the Avett Brothers, not only because they are from North Carolina.

Quote: I have a Madonna quote in my office that says: “I’m tough, I’m ambitious and I know what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.”

Another quote: “I use all the brains I have and any I can borrow,” Woodrow Wilson.