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Volume 20 No. 45

People and Pop Culture

Atlanta Braves general manager John Coppolella resigned.

The Cincinnati Reds hired Jacqueline Sprague and Todd Richardson as corporate partnerships managers. Sprague was an account executive for WKRC-TV, and Richardson was a senior account executive for Pandora.

The Oakland Athletics promoted Taj Tashombe to vice president of external affairs to head their new ballpark development effort.

The Class A Carolina League hired Geoff Lassiter as president, effective Jan. 1. Lassiter was president of the league’s Winston-Salem Dash.

The Class A Carolina League’s Winston-Salem (N.C.) Dash promoted C.J. Johnson to president and general manager.

The Class A California League’s Stockton (Calif.) Ports promoted Taylor McCarthy to assistant general manager.

The Oklahoma City Thunder promoted Will Dawkins to vice president of identification and intelligence, Marc St. Yves to vice president of logistics and engagement, Matt Tumbleson to vice president of basketball communications and engagement, Donald Strack to vice president of human and player performance, Paul Rivers to chief of staff, Amanda Green to director of information management and counsel, Wynn Sullivan to director of strategic planning, Jesse Gould to director of pro evaluation, Ayana Lawson to director of community and lifestyle services, and Oliver Winterbone to director of player development, and hired Rob Hennigan as vice president of insight and foresight. Hennigan was general manager for the Orlando Magic.

The Orlando Magic named David Tenney high performance director. Tenney held the same post for the Seattle Sounders FC.

The NBA G League Texas Legends promoted Brittany Payne to vice president of operations, Kyle Judkins to vice president of digital media and broadcast production, Blake Armstrong to vice president, Matt Morales to assistant general manager, Byron Bogar to assistant general manager, Britney Wynn to vice president of media relations, Blaine Morris to senior director of corporate sponsorship, Chris Crump to senior director of business development, and Kevin Phillips to senior director of group sales. The team hired Tamishia Moats and Nick Sandall as directors of business development.

The Cleveland Cavaliers named Nic Barlage president of business operations, Tad Carper executive vice president of communications, Mozelle Jackson executive vice president and chief financial and administrative officer, Tracy Marek executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Brad Sims executive vice president/chief revenue officer and franchise operations, and Mike Conley senior vice president and chief information officer.

The Sacramento Kings named Peja Stojakovic vice president of basketball and team development, Joelle Terry senior vice president of communications, Bill Pope director of pro personnel, Mark Toyoda senior manager of basketball administration, Melanie Stocking manager of basketball operations, Robbie Lemons basketball operations coordinator, Akachi Okugo player development coordinator, Ramsey Nijem head performance and strength coach, Aung Aye manual therapist and assistant athletic trainer, Penny Chatzis executive assistant to the general manager and player services administrator, and Galen Duncan vice president of the Kings Academy and professional development. Anthony McClish was named director of basketball operations and general manager of the team’s G League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns, and Ernest DeLosAngeles head strength and conditioning coach for the Reno Bighorns.

Alabama State University Athletic Director Melvin Hines resigned.

The University of Alabama Birmingham hired Trey Frazier as associate athletic director for development. Frazier was director of development for annual giving at Virginia Tech.

The College of Charleston promoted Laura Lageman to senior associate athletic director and senior woman administrator, Otto German to associate athletic director for compliance; Kate Tiller to assistant athletic director for student-athlete academic services; Weston Ijames to assistant athletic director for business operations; J.B. Weber to director of compliance; and Kelly Mottola to director of ticket operations.

Columbia University hired Mike Miller as associate athletic director for marketing strategy. Miller was associate athletic director for external relations at Wagner College.

Concordia University, Portland, hired Jessica Harbison Weaver as associate athletic director for compliance and academic support and senior woman administrator. Harbison Weaver was assistant athletic director for compliance at the University of California, Riverside.

Don DiJulia, Saint Joseph’s University vice president and athletic director, will retire at the end of the academic year.

Eastern Michigan University hired Sean McCarthy as assistant director of compliance. McCarthy was a compliance coordinator at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Hofstra University hired Samantha Hegmann as assistant athletic director for NCAA education and compliance services. Hegmann was assistant director for compliance at Monmouth University.

Johns Hopkins University hired Jennifer Baker as senior associate athletic director. Baker was senior manager of corporate real estate, facilities and operations for Under Armour.

Wagner College hired Greg Cusick as assistant athletic director for external relations.

Combat Sports
UFC hired Paul Asencio as senior vice president of global partnerships. Asencio was vice president of venue business development for Fanatics.


Delaware North hired Timothy Townsell as general manager of Massachusetts Sportservice at TD Garden and Richard Teahan as TD Garden’s director of security. Townsell was general manager at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center for Levy Restaurants, and Teahan was a supervisory special agent for the FBI.

PGA Tour executive Charlie Zink retired.

Ken May, Topgolf chief executive officer of U.S. venue operations, retired.

The World Golf Foundation hired James Cramer as vice president of communications. Cramer was vice president of communications for the PGA Tour.


The Arizona Coyotes hired Tom Hoof as vice president of marketing. Hoof was chief marketing officer and vice president of marketing and communications at the University of South Florida.

The Carolina Hurricanes hired Tom Ward as senior vice president of brand, community and partnership development.

Bobby Hacker launched his own law firm and sports media consulting agency. Hacker was Fox Sports vice president of business and legal affairs.

Octagon hired William Mao as vice president of media rights consulting. Mao was vice president of digital for MP & Silva.


Nielsen Sports promoted Jon Stainer to managing director for the Americas, Scott Horowitz to senior vice president of revenue and new business for the Americas and Stephen Master to global head of federations. Managing Director of North America Peter Laatz will leave the business at the end of the year.

MLS hired Diego Moratorio as general manager of MLS Canada. Moratorio was director of marketing for Coca-Cola Canada.

FC Dallas promoted Melissa Jannetta to vice president of business development and Megan Miller to vice president of partnership marketing.

Oak View Group hired former Billboard editor Andy Gensler as executive editor of its media and conferences division.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency hired Brad Horn as communications and media relations director. Horn was vice president for communications and education for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Amateur cycling event series Haute Route hired Micah Rice as head of operations for North America. Rice was vice president of national events for USA Cycling.

Drug Free Sport hired Alisha Palermo as manager of collector development, training and certification; Justin Gore as specialist of quality assurance; and Trent Godfrey as professional manager of professional sports drug testing.

Luker on Trends promoted Chad Menefee to senior partner.

Awards and Boards
Oilers Entertainment Group and the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation named Janet Riopel board chair for the EOCF.

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.

Glenn Ware founded PwC’s Global Intelligence Operations Center in 2008 to help corporations deal with external threats to their business. In 2013, Ware started a sports intelligence group after being hired by an NFL team and an NBA team to assess situations involving allegations of domestic violence. The sports intelligence group now works for dozens of NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB teams, helping them assess threats, as well as draft picks, free agents and other talent based on an analysis of the social media commentary surrounding players.

Imagine someone sees someone at a party doing something violent against a woman. Someone takes a photo of it. It goes viral on social media and two days later, it’s in the papers. Right? That plays out every single day. Now imagine if you had two days advanced notice. You could take intervening action to get your handle on it.

Players’ ecosystem: The teams do a background check on the players, that’s not our business. We are looking at the larger ecosystem around a team or a player or an event that could pose a risk to a player’s team or event.

Courtesy of: PWC
Bad influences: If we all thought about it for five seconds, we all have childhood friends or neighbors or relatives that have done something wrong, right? Those outliers can be identified and can be seen. But if your ecosystem are all bad people, your environment that you live in, that you run with, that you hang with are all bad, that is an indicator to the team. When they are having their interviews with the player at the combine and other events, they can ask them about this.

How it works: We have technology that collects social media and straight source information feeds. You may not be active on social media at all and we are not looking at your tweets or your information, we are not looking at any of that. But the people around you, your friends — you may not know this, but they are commenting on you all the time.

Talk of the town: If there is a group of say 200 elite athletes that are coming out of the 4,000 universities in the country that are being considered for this draft, each one of these are mini celebrities on their college campuses. Wherever they go around campus, people are commenting on them.

Good and bad: So you aggregate the totality of all of that, and the platform has very sophisticated algorithms that can qualitatively measure the content of those communications and they can say, “There’s a persistent theme about this player being seen at parties constantly.” Or it can say, “This player is constantly being seen as a community leader.” So it ranges from the, let’s call it, negative sentiment to the positive sentiment.

No recommendation: The platform aggregates data on volume and quantity on bad things, volume and quantity on good things. So we don’t say, “This is a really good player.” We say, “There’s this much negative sentiment. This much positive sentiment. And these are the themes in the positive and negative areas.” The team then uses it to factor into their equation on how that might affect their performance.

Game changer: What we do know is I have seen teams adjust their draft picks or not draft people or develop strategies to draft them, but they know there are negative issues that they have to deal with. I absolutely know that is happening.

                                                                                                                            — Liz Mullen

Wilson’s event makes donations

On hand for the donation of the proceeds from the Wilson Celebrity Invitational, hosted by Russell Wilson, to Seattle Children’s Hospital Strong Against Cancer pediatric cancer research before a Seahawks preseason game: Dr. Steve Kirtland, Virginia Mason Hospital; Carly Young of Wilson’s Why Not You Foundation; Wilson; Sara Osborne, Safeway & Albertson’s Foundation; and Dr. Jeff Sperring, Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Bettman at Detroit debut

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Ilitch Holdings President and CEO Chris Ilitch watch the opening festivities before the first Detroit Red Wings regular-season game at the new Little Caesars Arena on Oct. 5.
Bears’ pep rally for pink

The Chicago Bears and Advocate Health Care held a pep rally last month at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill., to raise awareness for breast cancer and unveil the 2017 Real Bears Fans Wear Pink T-shirt design: Bears President Ted Phillips, offensive lineman Charles Leno Jr., defensive back Marcus Cooper Sr. and Advocate CEO Jim Skogsbergh.
Meeting in St. Louis

Robyn Glaser, Kraft Group vice president and New England Patriots club counsel, addresses “Strategic Sports Management” with Patrick Rishe, sports business program director at Washington University in St. Louis, during the Olin Sports Business Summit on Sept. 29.
Goodell plays pingpong for a cause

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, New York Giants wide receiver Brandon Marshall, actor and comedian Keegan-Michael Key and Michi Marshall attend Project 375’s Paddle Battle pingpong charity tournament at Spin New York on Oct. 6 in New York City.
Buss stop

Jeanie Buss, Los Angeles Lakers CEO and controlling owner, talks with Ramona Shelburne onstage at the espnW Women & Sports Summit earlier this month in Newport Beach, Calif.
Goldbergs get their Flyers on

Ready for a new season of ABC’s “The Goldbergs,” which features the Philadelphia Flyers in every episode: actor Troy Gentile; Beverly Goldberg, executive producer Adam Goldberg, Barry Goldberg, Eric Goldberg and Ike Richman of Ike Richman Communications.
Cleanup in Houston

Clay Harris, GM at IMG College’s University of Houston property, and Tom Fletcher, IMG College West Region SVP (both center), teamed up to organize a charity component of the previously scheduled IMG College Texas GM meetings in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, spending a day gutting and cleaning a house in the city’s Third Ward damaged by the storm.

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.

[Husband Terry] had [Sabres] season tickets for 17 years. So we would go to the games and … I’m looking for Sabretooth — that’s the mascot — and I’m eating all the popcorn and hotdogs and I’m listening to the music.

He is sitting in his seat and even at intermission he doesn’t leave. Can I, like, go to the bathroom? No. Can I get … no, he just sits there and focuses on the game.

I’m just looking at the whole big entertainment side of it. So from early on we just kind of had our own little areas that we gravitated to.

I think we have a really unique situation in Buffalo. Now I know that there are other owners that own multiple teams, but we are owners that have not only the football with the Bills and the hockey with the Sabres, but we also have our [American Hockey League] team, our minor league team in Rochester, the Rochester Americans, and then we have the lacrosse, the Buffalo Bandits.

Why do you go to the game? You go because your friends are there. You go there to let loose, to cheer for your team, to be a part of something bigger, and I don’t think that will ever go away.

People pay a lot of money to go to a game and they pay a lot of money for the food, for concessions, for the merchandise, and so they want that experience to be one where they feel like they got their money’s worth.

It could be any touchpoints, anywhere from bathroom lines to concession lines to entering. That’s why we developed an app that is special to our community. It is called our One Buffalo app, My One Buffalo. And what it did is it encompassed all our properties, from hockey and football to our restaurants and our hotels.

Within the app you can remember where your car is parked, or you can see where the wait lines are at the gates. Or the bathroom lines, it can tell you where the bathroom lines are, what the traffic is. Concessions, the food prices, the maps.

We are always constantly trying to think about the fan because we want them to focus on the game.

The people from the outside who are not familiar with Buffalo, who don’t know and understand the culture of the community … they come and they get to experience it and they are like, I get it now.

To me that’s the biggest enjoyment, me being able to share with the rest of the country and the world and others who have not been to Buffalo what we really have there.

There are no bigger fans than our employees, and they want to help, they want to be a part of something bigger. And I could see that right away, and the talent was there. I mean, I was like, oh my goodness, these people have some crazy talent.

I really don’t like to be out here in the front. I really do like to be in the back. I’m trying to be better at it because I think as a leader you have to represent.

We put our name on [the business] because at the end of the day, the team and the ownership, it is us.

I have met other owners and have had conversations with other people, and there is no right way to do it. There are some people, some ownerships that are very involved, there are some that are very hands off.

You’re surrounded by all these people there you have heard of as a fan your whole life. Like Jerry Jones is down the row from you and Stan Kroenke is sitting across from you.

I know that maybe there was not a lot of women in ownership and maybe involved like I am but from Martha Ford, Dee Haslam, from Charlotte Jones and Katie Blackburn, there were a lot of women in there.

It was literally the second league meeting, and my husband had to leave for some reason, so I’m sitting there by myself and these are owner-only sessions, no team presidents.

And they were talking about the moves, I think it was the L.A. vote. So they were like, Let’s go around the room and have everyone stand up and say where they are on the situation.

This was such a big topic, and I hadn’t really delved into it yet. And I had to stand up in front of all these people, and I’m the newbie. Not only am I a female, I’m Asian, I’m generally younger than the other owners, and now I have to talk about L.A. and the Rams moving in front of everybody.

So I said something very politically correct. … It worked out just fine.

The biggest issue or the biggest challenge is winning. It’s really winning.

I can do my best to give the fans the experience. I can do what I can to try to make the stadium a safe place, and give them apps and giveaways and meet-and-greets. Be great partners with our partners and our sponsors. But I can’t control what happens on the field.

As a fan, I just went to a game, and it just happened. I didn’t know all the stuff that had to go behind putting on a game. That has been one of the biggest learning challenges for me.

As much as I love the technology and I’m excited about it and all the changes, whether you’re watching [sports] on your iPad or on Amazon or TV — I think sometimes we miss the traditions of sports.

I think we have to be careful that we don’t try to change things too fast and really the heart of why we love sports.