Sportico Transactions: Moves and Mergers Roundup for January 6

Welcome to Sportico’s Transactions wire, a weekly rundown of personnel, partnerships and products across the sports business industry.

Personnel

LPGA Elects Former Knicks President, GM to Board of Directors

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Stephen C. Mills, former president and general manager of the New York Knicks, has been elected to the LPGA Board of Directors as an Independent Director for 2023. Diane Gulyas, chair and former senior executive for DuPont, LLC, is retiring from the LPGA board, and John Veihmeyer, retired chairman of KPMG International, replaces Gulyas as the new board chair. Mills served as general manager of the Knicks from 2013 to 2017 and was named president of the organization in August 2017. Before joining the Knicks, Mills was president and COO of Madison Square Garden Sports, and he spent 16 years with the NBA.

IMG Hires 20-Year Marketing Vet to Lead Middle East Business

IMG has hired David Collins as senior vice president and managing director, MENA. Collins, who joins the Endeavor-owned company this month, has spent the last decade working in the Middle East and will be based in Dubai, UAE. In addition to managing the regional team, Collins will oversee and be responsible for driving IMG’s MENA events and global partnerships business, which includes the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, Lusail Winter Wonderland and the Arab Gulf Cup. Collins most recently served as Wasserman’s SVP, head of growth and development, EMEA, and prior to that, was responsible for launching Wasserman’s Middle East business in 2014.

NBA Brings in New Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer

The NBA named Lesley Slaton Brown as the organization’s new chief diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) officer. In her role, Slaton Brown will be responsible for driving ongoing DEI efforts for the NBA and its teams. She will work with the league’s chief people officer and the teams’ diversity and inclusion leaders to implement and advance DEI processes, including the recruitment and retention of diverse talent, the development and enhancement of employee resource programs, and the setting and assessing of metrics for success. Slaton Brown joins the NBA from HP, Inc., where she served as VP and chief diversity officer since 2015. Previously, Slaton Brown served as a consultant and co-founded Curated Pathways to Innovation (CPI), a personalized learning platform focused on increasing the number of women and people of color in technology and other industries.

Yankees Appoint MLB Vet as Senior Advisor

The New York Yankees have appointed Omar Minaya as senior advisor to baseball operations. Minaya, 64, spent the last year as an amateur scouting consultant for Major League Baseball. He also spent the last six seasons with the New York Mets, serving as a special assistant to the GM from 2017-20 and a Mets Ambassador from 2020-22. Minaya, who was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in 1978, began his career with the Texas Rangers in 1985, working in their scouting department and coaching the Rookie-level Gulf Coast Rangers. In February 2002, he became vice president and general manager of the Montreal Expos, making him baseball’s first Hispanic general manager. He also worked for the San Diego Padres and as an advisor to the MLBPA.

XFL Names Content and Marketing Heads

The XFL has brought on 11-time Emmy Award winner Bill McCullough as chief content officer and promoted Janet Duch to chief marketing and team business operations officer. In his role, McCullough will oversee all content strategy, development and production across league, team and partner channels. He will also lead internal and external teams to create content and build franchises that will engage fans, grow the XFL audience and maximize ROI. He comes to the XFL from FaZe Clan and had previously worked at the NFL. Duch will expand her responsibilities to oversee the XFL’s team business operations, including ticketing strategy, business intelligence, consumer products, and gameday operations and presentation.  

Senior Counsel at NFL Joins Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner

Law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner has hired Douglas Mishkin as a partner in its global Sports & Entertainment Group, based in New York. Mishkin, who spent the past six-plus years as senior counsel with the NFL, brings a broad background in sports transactions, regulatory and policy work. At the NFL he was responsible for structuring, drafting and negotiating contracts across various business units. He also oversaw the league’s commercial policies. Prior to the NFL, Mishkin worked in Las Vegas as SVP, legal and business affairs of Metric Gaming, an international sports betting technology, software and services company.

INEOS Appoints Sport CEO

INEOS has announced that Jean Claude Blanc will join the executive team as chief executive officer of INEOS Sport, beginning in February 2023. In his role, Blanc will oversee all of the INEOS sports portfolio, consisting of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team, OGC Nice, FC Lausanne Sport, Racing Club Abidjan and the INEOS Grenadiers cycling team, along with INEOS’s sponsorship of the British Challenge for the 37th America’s Cup, the All Blacks rugby teams and the Eliud Kipchoge running team. Blanc will be responsible for the development of dedicated facilities for each of the teams that INEOS owns, developing their business plans and growing their global brands, as well as developing them into a global integrated sports group.

Partnerships

Bengals and Wager Score Hook Up on Responsible Gaming 

Wager Score and the Cincinnati Bengals have partnered to promote responsible sports gaming practices. The partnership come as Ohio opened for legal sports betting on Jan. 1, 2023. To help empower the public to make informed betting decisions, Wager Score launched the ‘Don’t Fumble Your Finances’ campaign to educate sports bettors and parents about responsible gambling practices. Wager Score’s fin-tech platform alerts users to changes in discretionary income spent on online sports betting, contingent upon gaming operators sharing data, and provides educational insights on how to gamble responsibly. Betfred and Wager Score will donate $100,000 to the Charles Oakley Foundation when the first 1,000 bettors in Ohio sign up to get their Wager Score and make a qualifying wager on Betfred Sportsbook, the participating gaming operator site. Affordability checks decrease the possibility of sports bettors getting into financial difficulty and are a critical intervention for mitigating problem play.

PHF Announces Partnerships to Foster a Respectful, Safe, Inclusive Environment

The Premier Hockey Federation (PHF), home of professional women’s hockey in North America, has partnered with Respect Group and RealResponse, and has introduced mandatory background checks with National Center for Safety Initiatives (NCSI) for all league and team staff. Each organization provides industry-leading resources that will strengthen the league’s commitment to fostering a healthy, respectful, safe, and inclusive environment for all players and staff.

USA Lacrosse Extends Multiyear Partnership With Warrior Sports 

Warrior Sports has signed a multiyear agreement to continue its support of the U.S. men’s national lacrosse team as an official partner/equipment supplier. The partnership will include the 2023 World Lacrosse Men’s Championship in San Diego, the 2024 World Lacrosse Box Championships and other team training activities. Warrior first sponsored the U.S. men’s national team program in 1998 and has been a longtime supporter. Warrior will be included in the equipment pool for sticks and protective equipment for the men’s field and box teams in addition to supplying helmets for the box team.

SL Benfica Partners With Georgia’s FC Sudamerica

Portuguese giants SL Benfica have partnered with Futbol Club Sudamerica, based in Atlanta, Ga. The two-time European Cup Champions with will implement their training methodology in the United States, aiming to help develop and capture talent in the country. Benfica has won the prize for Best Academy in the World three times at the prestigious Globe Soccer Awards in Dubai after producing several superstars, including Ruben Dias, Bernardo Silva, João Félix, João Cancelo and Renato Sanches. FC Sudamerica is one of the fastest growing clubs in the state of Georgia, a project with roots in South American and European soccer.

BOA Nutrition Announces NIL Deals with College Hoops Stars

Sports performance supplement company BOA Nutrition announced that college basketball stars Armando Bacot of North Carolina and Jeremy Roach of Duke have teamed up with the company as part of separate NIL deals that include equity ownership positions. Bacot and Roach will be featured in creative content promoting the sports energy aerosol BOA Ignite, the brand’s newest product. With their NIL deals, Bacot and Roach are the newest shareholders in the North Carolina-based company.

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