Welcome to Sportico’s Transactions wire, a weekly rundown of personnel, partnerships, purchases and products across the sports business industry.
NBA Appoints New Chief People Officer
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The NBA has named Sabrina Ellis as its new chief people officer. Ellis will begin on Jan. 17 and will report to NBA President, Administration Kyle Cavanaugh. In this role, Ellis will oversee all aspects of the league’s global human resources strategy, including compensation and benefits, talent acquisition, and learning and leadership development. With a focus on global best practices and inclusion, she will also build, implement and drive engagement initiatives that address workforce culture and attract a globally diverse group of employees. Ellis joins the NBA from NYU, where she served as vice president and chief human resources officer since 2016. Before that, Ellis served as VP of human resources at George Washington University and the assistant vice president of HR at the City College of New York (CUNY).
Former Turner President Joins SimWin Sports
Digital sports league SimWin Sports has hired former Turner president David Levy as an advisory board member and team owner. Following a 32-year tenure at Turner, Levy is turning his attention to the next generation of sports. Levy will own and manage the Arizona Roadrunners basketball team, operating a squad of virtual players that can be purchased and developed by everyday users. Levy’s squad will face off against teams owned by other celebrities such as Magic Johnson, Jerry Rice, LaMelo Ball, Penny Hardaway and Tracy McGrady. Levy is no stranger to modern gaming, having brought esports to television with the creation of TBS’ ELeague, along with several other broadcast esports competitions. Levy has spent the last three years focusing his attention on the world of sports betting, with investments in Simplebet, Underdog and Phenix.
Spurs Exec Joins U.S. Ski & Snowboard Board
U.S. Ski & Snowboard has brought on Brandon Gayle as its newest board director. Gayle has worked at Facebook, Instagram, Groupon and Bain & Company, and he is currently the chief operating officer of Spurs Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. Gayle has also served as a board member for Zendesk and as vice chair of the private-public nonprofit greater:SATX Regional Economic Partnership. For the Spurs, Gayle is responsible for the organization’s operations across ticketing, premium seating, global partnerships, brand marketing, content and distribution, merchandising, as well as business communications. In addition to the NBA’s Spurs, the company’s portfolio includes the NBA G League Austin Spurs, the United Soccer League’s San Antonio FC, AT&T Center and Toyota Field.
Vail Resorts Hires CFO
Vail Resorts, Inc. has brought back Angela Korch as EVP and CFO. She rejoins Vail Resorts from CorePower Yoga, where she had served as CFO since May 2020, after previously spending more than a decade in successive leadership roles within Vail Resorts’ finance organization. During her tenure, she managed financial and capital allocation strategies, transformed core processes and played an integral role in the integration of 32 mountain resorts. Prior to Vail Resorts, Korch was an assistant portfolio manager at Muzinich & Company.
XFL Names Chief Business and Legal Officer
The XFL has hired Wendy Bass as chief business and legal officer. Bass will oversee the legal, people operations and technology departments, and be responsible for the league’s broadcast partnership with The Walt Disney Company and ESPN. She will also oversee the League’s betting and gaming efforts. Bass joins the XFL from NBC Sports Group, where she served as SVP of programming and rights management. With NBC, she led the relationships and negotiations with the company’s linear and digital partners and served on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Council.
Pixellot Tabs COO to Streamline Expansion
Pixellot, a provider of AI-automated sports production solutions, has added Ronen Tanami as chief operating officer. In his most recent role, Tanami served as SVP at Amdocs, managing quality engineering and head of revenue guard business unit. He joined Amdocs as part of the cVidya acquisition after serving as cVidya’s COO for 10 years. During that period, cVidya acquired ECTel with Tanami leading the post-merger integration process. In his new role, he will focus on improving cross-departmental processes, as well as establish new methodologies, processes, and KPIs, to track, monitor and improve product development and delivery. In addition, he will support other company activities, including strategic tech partnerships.
Premier Streaming Network, Launching in 2023, Appoints Leadership Team
Premier Streaming Network (PSN)—a new streaming service providing access to combat sports, pro wrestling and entertainment live events—is set to launch in early 2023. Leading PSN’s creation and operations is Paul Owen and producer Josh Shernoff. Owen, president of PSN, has launched and managed streaming services in the combat sports and entertainment spaces, including World Wrestling Entertainment’s WWE Network and the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s UFC Fight Pass. Shernoff, VP of programming and creative development of PSN, is an on-air personality and award-winning host, but for more than two decades he has worked behind the camera as a producer, promoter, programming and creative director, and graphic editor.
Playfly Announces Restructuring and Promotions
Playfly’s Home Team Sports group has finalized internal restructuring and subsequent promotions to sharpen its focus on specific goals. Chad Copher, promoted to SVP general manager, will manage the media business overall, with focus on RSN relations and internal financial operations. Lorie McCarthy, promoted to SVP head of agency partnerships, will oversee revenue efforts with agency partners across the country, and will work closely with the operations team to search for more ways for us to improve connectivity to the agency systems, measurement tools for our RSN and digital assets. Aaron Lowenberg, promoted to VP strategic alliances, will be responsible for expanding contracts with our existing RSN, team, and other content partners while creating new business models for Home Team Sports.
SGC, PWCC Marketplace Partner on Streamlined Trading Card Authentication Service
SGC and PWCC Marketplace have partnered on a streamlined grading service enabling clients to submit raw trading cards to PWCC and receive SGC-graded cards in their vault account on an expedited timeline. The service includes card identification by the PWCC team, PWCC-managed shipping, a 10-day grading turnaround estimate, the elimination of value-based grading tiers and paperwork, and autograph grading service on all manufacturer-issued autograph cards. The cost to grade each card through the service is $20 regardless of genre, category, or value. Clients can send their authenticated cards directly to auction and have the fee taken out of the final sale price or send cards directly to the vault and pay the invoice after the item is ingested.