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Volume 21 No. 26

People and Pop Culture

Baseball

The Los Angeles Dodgers hired Jim Tucker as vice president of corporate partnerships. Tucker was senior vice president of global marketing and media partnerships for Equity Sports Partners.

 

The Class AA Southern League Biloxi Shuckers promoted Trevor Matifes to assistant general manager, Layton Markwood to ticket sales executive, Lisa Turner to accounting and human resources manager and Jenifer Truong to community relations and promotions manager; and hired Garrett Greene as media relations manager and broadcaster, Stephanie Chapman as a ticket sales executive and Dani Polen as an administrative and marketing assistant.

 

Colleges

Northwest Missouri State University Athletic Director Mel Tjeerdsma announced his retirement, effective April 30.

 

Seattle University hired Alex Romagnolo as associate athletic director for development. Romagnolo was director of development of the Rockne Athletics Fund at the University of Notre Dame.

 

Esports

rEvXP hired Bill Kenney as director of business development. Kenney was a senior consultant for Amarok Consulting.

 

Facilities

Clear hired Lauren Stangel as vice president of sports and events.

 

Football

The Kansas City Chiefs promoted Tyler Epp to executive vice president of business operations.

 

The San Francisco 49ers promoted Cameron O’Toole to account executive of partnership sales and Alyssa Morales to partnership activation representative, and hired Matt Siert as manager of partnership sales. Siert was corporate partnership manager for the San Jose Sharks.

 

Golf

The Ladies Professional Golf Association promoted Jake Brokaw to senior director of new media.

 

Hockey

The Los Angeles Kings hired Emily Doherty as a sales representative. 

 

Marketing

The Aspire Group promoted Chad Cardinal to regional director at Santa Clara University, Brian Treiser to regional director at Florida Atlantic University and Rich Witmeyer to regional director at Auburn University; and hired Jason Russow and Alec Dunn as new sales consultants at Purdue University, Daniel Schubert as assistant director of ticket operations at Florida Atlantic University, Adam Garelik as sales and service consultant at San Jose State University and Scott Proietti as sales consultant at the University of South Florida.

 

CSE promoted Daniel Goldstein to vice president, Cc Coleman to account director, Dave Peters to senior account manager, Stefanie Stephens and Anna Diez to account manager and Maddie Lockridge to account executive. 

 

Independent Sports & Entertainment promoted Scott Pearson to vice president of business and legal affairs for ISE Baseball.

 

Learfield hired Andrew Kossoff, Owen Shull and Mark Winneker as Campus+ vice presidents.

 

Olympics

USA Triathlon hired Thomas Reilly as commissioner of officials.

 

Sporting Goods and Apparel

WinCraft promoted Chris Wolfe to national sales director for its college division.

 

Other

DraftKings hired Sean Hurley as head of sportsbook. Hurley was head of commercial for Amelco.

 

Combate Americas hired Jessica Mata as director of integrated partnerships for Mexico. Mata was managing director for Apex Exchange.

 

The Drone Racing League hired Melanie Wallner as director of communications. Wallner was senior manager of strategic communications for LeadDog Marketing Group.

 

FanCompass promoted Lisa Fahey to president.

 

The McGowan Professional Athletes and Entertainers Insurance Solutions Practice hired Cat Buchanan as a client consultant.

 

The Ragnar Relay Series hired Doug Kaplan as executive vice president and Michael Proulx as vice president of corporate partnerships.

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 careers@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Electronic photos must be a jpg or tiff file for Macintosh, 2.25 inches wide at 300 dpi. Color only, please.

Ripken’s Aspire awards

At the 14th annual Aspire Gala of the Ripken Foundation, Cal Ripken Jr. poses with honorees Jonathan Ogden, a Baltimore Ravens hall of famer, and Gary Williams, former Maryland coach and a Naismith hall of famer. The gala raised a record $4.4 million for the foundation’s efforts to assist underserved youth in America’s most distressed communities.
Photo: rob smith / cal ripken sr. foundation

Miller time at new Bucks arena

Milwaukee Bucks President Peter Feigin (left) and Miller Brewing Co. Wisconsin GM Jim Kanter toast following the Feb. 22 announcement of Miller Brewing Co. as a founding partner of the new Bucks arena scheduled to open in the fall. The event was held in one of the three Miller bar spaces at the arena.
Photo: milwaukee bucks

Tee it up for Valspar Championship

At media day for the PGA Tour Valspar Championship in Tampa Bay: Broadcaster Gary Koch, Valspar Championship General Chairman Keith Robinson, Tournament Director Tracy West, 2017 champion Adam Hadwin, Valspar Brand Activation Manager Sara Hackney, Copperhead Charities board member Ronde Barber and Tournament Vice Chairman Jim Eisch.
Photo: courtesy of valspar championship / allasyn lieneck

New partner for Red Bulls

At the announcement of Provident Bank as the official banking partner of the New York Red Bulls. From left: Red Bulls GM Marc de Grandpre, Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips and Provident CEO Chris Martin. Provident also will receive naming rights to the luxury suite levels of Red Bull Arena named Provident Bank Suite Lounge.
Photo: aaron houston

Closing Bell with Penske, DXC

IndyCar driver Simon Pagenaud (center) rings the NYSE closing bell with Mike Lawrie (left), DXC Technology chairman, president and CEO; and Roger Penske (right), founder and chairman of Penske Corp., on Feb. 23. DXC Technology unveiled its new Indy car and renewed its sponsorship with Penske for the 2018 IndyCar Series season.
Photo: team penske

Happy Birthday, Shaq

“NBA on TNT” analyst Shaquille O’Neal is surprised with a cake from his mother, Lucille, on the set of “Players Only” for his 46th birthday.
Photo: ted pio-roda / turner sports

Getting analytical in Boston

From the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, Feb. 23-24 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. The Right Stuff: Launching a Business in Sports panel: DraftKings’ Jason Robins, Springhill Entertainment’s Maverick Carter, A-Rod Corp.’s Alex Rodriguez, FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver and moderator ESPN’s Michele Steele.
Photo: mit sloan sports analytics conference
The Evolution of Sports Business panel: On Location Experiences’ John Collins, Philadelphia 76ers’ Scott O’Neil, NFL’s Tod Leiweke, Buffalo Sabres/Bills owner Kim Pegula, USTA’s Katrina Adams and moderator SBJ’s Abe Madkour.
Photo: mit sloan sports analytics conference
Serial Entrepreneurs panel: Fanatics’ Michael Rubin, KAGR’s Jessica Gelman and Monumental Sports & Entertainment’s Ted Leonsis.
Photo: mit sloan sports analytics conference
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: photo@sportsbusinessjournal.com or send color prints to: Faces & Places, c/o Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal, 120 W. Morehead St., Suite 310, Charlotte, NC 28202.
Photo: south dakota state

Justin Sell is accustomed to being on the road in March. The athletic director at South Dakota State has both the men’s and women’s basketball teams in the NCAA tournament for the fourth time since 2012 after both won the Summit League tournament. Sell, who was named AD there in 2009, was able to witness the Jackrabbits win the men’s and women’s conference tournaments last week — both events were played in the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls. This week is sure to be more challenging, but if the schedule permits, Sell says he’ll be on hand to see both teams open the NCAAs.

It’s changed our university. When you look at applications, interest, merchandise, web hits, it amplifies everything. We’re sitting on another great opportunity.
Justin Sell
Athletic director, South Dakota State

On what the last week has been like: The conference tournaments were high intensity and they’re played in full buildings. If there’s 10,000 people here, about 8,000 are pulling for the Jackrabbits. You’ve got this swell of emotion, but at the same time, because the Summit is traditionally a one-bid league, you don’t want to let them down.

 

On the logistics of multiple teams in the postseason: We’re fortunate that we have some practice at this. But you also have to consider that we’ve got our wrestling team at NCAAs in Cleveland. So, we’re mapping out the schedule so we can try to be at all of our events.

 

On what makes South Dakota State unique: Well, having such a unique mascot lends itself to having a unique brand. One thing that we’re really proud of is having a 3.29 grade-point average across 540 student athletes, ranging from nursing to engineering, biology, pre-med. In today’s sports world, to know that we’re doing it the right way and still competing at a high level, that is something to be proud of. Brookings is also home to Daktronics, and this is where cookies-and-creme ice cream was invented.

 

On his podcast: It’s been going three years. There are just so many good stories to tell from our athletes, coaches, faculty, donors, our president. Through all of these stories, I think you can get a good sense of our values, and our fans can kind of get inside the head of some of our athletes. … It’s a great tool to reach our fans, but it takes some time. You’ve got to work at it. When you flip sides and become the one asking the questions, you’ve got to be prepared.

 

On competitive success sparking talk of jumping from FCS to FBS: We just went from Division II to Division I 10 years ago, so we’re still relatively new at this so, no, I don’t think so. We’ve tried to prepare for the future. We recently built a 20,000-seat football stadium that can go to 40,000. But jumping up another level is something we’ll probably leave to the next generation. We’re happy where we’re at.

— Michael Smith

At age 47, Dawn Staley has already achieved almost everything there is to achieve in basketball. One thing she hasn’t done before — defend an NCAA championship — occurs this year as the South Carolina head coach attempts to lead her team to a second consecutive title.


Staley knows all about winning, both as a player and as a coach. Her playing career included three trips to the Women’s Final Four from 1990 through 1992 at Virginia. She earned National Player of the Year honors twice in college.

Q&A with … Dawn Staley,
women’s basketball coach, University of South Carolina

From there, she went on to become a five-time WNBA All-Star and led the 1996, 2000 and 2004 U.S. Olympic women’s teams to gold medals. And, long before she retired from the WNBA in 2006, Staley had already begun her next career, taking over as Temple’s women’s coach in 2000.

In 2008, she accepted the coaching job at South Carolina, inheriting a women’s basketball program that was struggling for relevance. Under Staley, the Gamecocks have become a consistent contender, winning the last four SEC titles, reaching the Final Four twice and making substantial gains in home attendance along the way.

Staley discussed making the transition from player to coach, the stress relief of having a loyal dog and how she escaped professional suicide by yelling less and listening more.

Dawn Staley has taken her South Carolina team into the national spotlight.
Photo: getty images

In a piece you did for The Players’ Tribune, you wrote about how you didn’t really want to be a coach, but you wanted a challenge. What were your expectations going into that first job?

I wanted to impact lives through basketball. I know how impactful the game of basketball was to me, and I wanted every young person that I coached to come away and feel the same way about basketball that I did.

In terms of the day to day, what did you think it would be like?

I had no idea. I knew what a practice looked like. I didn’t know what the administrative part looked like. That’s why I tried to hire people that were experienced. I hired my old college assistant coach, who had been in the business for a long time, and I hired some other people who had more experience than I did.

When you took the job, you were still playing in the WNBA. How did you balance those two things?

I had to get my workout in for the WNBA, I had to get that in early.

The rest of the day, we had a standing meeting with the coaches. That kind of organizes your day once you have that. Practice or workouts took up a big [part] of the day. And then there were things like paperwork you had to fill out.  

What did you do during the WNBA season?

Now, that’s where having a great staff comes into play. We were extremely organized. And once you get into a system of how it works and me not being there five months out of the year, we used the WNBA as a recruiting tool. Because I wasn’t able to go out and watch kids play during the recruiting time, so we would ask them to come watch me play. I couldn’t talk to them [because of NCAA recruiting rules]. Just come watch me play. And that way, we knew they had some interest in Temple.

That’s a pretty powerful recruiting pitch, “Come watch a professional basketball player who could also be your coach.”

Yeah, come watch your dream take place. Come see your dream. It somewhat worked. We didn’t always get the players we wanted to get, but it was a helpful tool to keep Temple in everybody’s mind that we were recruiting.

Fast forward to 10 years ago: When South Carolina hired you, the women’s team had missed the NCAAs five straight years. What made you think it would work?

I’ve always been an odds-beater. From growing up in the projects in North Philly, to graduating from college, to going to the Olympics, to winning gold medals, the odds were against me to do all of those things. So, I like to stack myself against the odds. It’s basketball, it’s something I truly love. And if you dive into it, and you do it the right way, you do it with the right people, you’re going to be successful.

What was the shape of the program when you got there?

I thought it was professional suicide.

Because?

Because we didn’t have the same likenesses. [The players] didn’t love basketball. And I absolutely adore basketball, so, for someone who loves something, and to those players we inherited, they were using basketball as a means of advancing themselves to get through college.

They weren’t passionate about the game?

Not at all. And I thought I would put the same type of energy that we put into Temple and — voila — it would turn out great. But it took us a good two, three, four years for us to even make inroads and to see what our vision would be for South Carolina.

You mentioned growing up in the projects of Philadelphia, which is a big part of your story. What were the best and worst things about that experience?

The best is it gave me a foundation of who I am today. I never think I’m in a losing battle with anything because of where I grew up. I always think I have a chance of winning. That’s the outlook I have, the mindset that I have, because of where I grew up.

The worst part is probably the people there won’t get to experience all the wonderful things I’ve experienced in life. I’ve been able to explore and learn about different cultures because I was given an opportunity. My friends that still are there won’t get that opportunity. There are people in the projects and that’s all they’ll ever know. And I think that’s the worst part of it. 

You’ve been gone many years, but I wonder whether you think about how different your life is now versus where you were.

My life is much different. My mother passed away in August. I was able to take care of my mother — she died from complications from Alzheimer’s. I was able to give her a life of comfort, hopefully. And that’s a lot different than the people I grew up with. They’re just struggling paycheck to paycheck. I made a life for myself and I’m able to take care of my family.

Here’s what I know about you off the court: You have a dog named Champ that likes to play basketball, you dressed up as Beyoncé for Halloween last year, your Christmas tree had its own Twitter account and you’re borderline addicted to Life Savers. Can you confirm?

All true. My boy Champ, who’s a Havanese, he’s supposed to be hypo-allergenic. He’s not. I’m allergic to him, but I’m keeping him. We’re going to have to figure out a way in which I cannot sneeze for the rest of my life. But he’s my joy. After a loss, you go home, and he makes everything feel better.

How did you go to a football school and manage to turn it into a place where women’s basketball games are campus happenings?

Well, first of all, I didn’t know it was a football school. If I had known, I think I would’ve added that to the challenge of turning this program around.

When I got here, those players, they really didn’t understand me and I didn’t understand them. So, I yelled a lot. And when you yell a lot, you’re not listening. You’re only yelling.

I’m, like, “Look, I’m tired of yelling, how do you want to do things?” And then I got feedback from them and they felt like they were part of the process because they had a voice. And from there, it just took off.

But, I’ll say this, those players who I coached 10 years ago, they follow the program, they’re always around, they come to the games — they now say if they had known what they know now, they would have approached it differently. That makes me feel good because the challenge to what we do is to get people to a place in their lives where they have complete understanding and not to regret anything.

What do you do to clear your mind, to escape the pressure of coaching?

For the longest, I never went on vacation. It took me five or six years before I actually had gone on a vacation from basketball, but now I do. I don’t think they’re huge vacations, although I did go to London last year. I think I’m more of a destination person — the beach. Although I don’t swim, I just like to veg out.

Last year you reached the top as a coach. What does it feel like as a coach as opposed to as a player?

I think it’s much more gratifying because it connects so many people. You’ve got your staff, your players, you’ve got a community, you’ve got the university, you’ve got parents, you’ve got grandparents — all of these people are part of our program. When we win, it impacts so many people.

Erik Spanberg writes for the Charlotte Business Journal, an affiliated publication.