Welcome to Sportico’s Transactions wire, a weekly rundown of personnel, partnerships and purchases across the sports business industry.
United States Football League Announces Senior Management Team
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The United States Football League, which will debut in April 2022, announced its senior management team. Brian Woods, founder of The Spring League and its Chief Executive Officer from 2017 to 2021, will serve as the USFL’s President of Football Operations. Working alongside Woods will be longtime NFL on FOX game analyst Daryl Johnston serving as Executive Vice President, Football Operations. In addition, former NFL Vice President of Officiating and football rules analyst Mike Pereira will act as the new league’s head of officiating, and FOX Sports’ Edward Hartman will serve as Executive Vice President, Business Operations.
LA28 Names Michell Schwartz Chief External Affairs Officer
The LA28 Olympic and Paralympic Games today announce the appointment of Michelle Schwartz as Chief External Affairs Officer. In this newly created role, Schwartz will lead the organization’s external engagement efforts with key stakeholders, overseeing government relations, community engagement, impact and communications.
Schwartz joins LA28 from Los Angeles World Airports where she served as Chief Corporate Strategy and Affairs Officer overseeing policy development, stakeholder communications, social responsibility, guest experience and innovation.
Megan Kahn Named Big Ten Vice President of Women’s Basketball
The Big Ten Conference announced that Megan Kahn has been named Vice President of Women’s Basketball. In this role, Kahn will work with Big Ten Conference Commissioner Kevin Warren and Deputy Commissioner/Chief Sports Officer Diana Sabau to lead the women’s basketball efforts for the conference.
Playfly Sports Names Hedgpeth President of Playfly Sports Properties
Playfly Sports, the sports marketing, media and technology company, announced the hiring of Christy Hedgpeth as President of Playfly Sports Properties. Hedgpeth will oversee Playfly’s 30+ high school and collegiate multimedia rights properties with responsibility for driving strategy, operations and growth. Hedgpeth joins Playfly after serving as the WNBA’s Chief Operating Officer since 2018.
ClubCorp Names Jim Berra Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer
ClubCorp announced that Jim Berra will join the company as Chief Marketing & Innovation Officer. In this newly created role, Berra will oversee the full suite of marketing capabilities, including brand strategy, communications, social and digital media, Web development, consumer insights, and product innovation. Berra comes to ClubCorp from Royal Caribbean International.
World Lacrosse Welcomes Board Member and Three Member Federations
World Lacrosse, the international federation for men’s and women’s lacrosse, welcomed PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Sabah Cambrelen as the first Diversity and Inclusion Director to its board of directors. The organization also confirmed the addition of three new member federations in India, Indonesia and Vietnam.
MSG Sports and Entertainment Announces Infosys Marketing Partnership
Madison Square Garden Sports Corp, Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. and Infosys, a global leader in next-generation digital services and consulting, announced a multi-year deal making Infosys the digital innovation partner of MSG properties including the New York Knicks, New York Rangers and the Madison Square Garden Arena. As part of this collaboration, MSG Entertainment and Infosys will create a digital command center inside The Garden which will provide on-site staff with enhanced, real-time oversight of event operations.
Linktree Expands Sports Vertical With NIL Offering
Linktree, the social media leading linking platform, today announced the expansion of its sports vertical, highlighted by a dedicated focus on helping US college athletes fully utilize their newfound name, image, and likeness (NIL) rights. As part of the push, Linktree will launch an educational content series to teach athletes how to safely and effectively capitalize on their NIL capabilities.
Heisman Trophy Trust Signs Exclusive Partnership With Tebow’s Campus Legends
The Heisman Trophy Trust announced their entry into the sports digital collectible market through an exclusive new partnership with Campus Legends. Campus Legends will work alongside The Heisman Trophy Trust and Heisman athletes on their first officially licensed NFT/digital collectible drop, currently planned for release in the fourth quarter of 2021. All digital collectibles featuring the Heisman Trophy brand will be exclusively available on CampusLegends.com.
Caesars Sportsbook Named Official Betting Partner of Knicks, Rangers and MSG
Madison Square Garden Sports Corp. and Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. announced a multi-year marketing partnership with Caesars Sportsbook, an entity of Caesars Entertainment, making Caesars Sportsbook an Official Sports Betting Partner of the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, Madison Square Garden Arena and MSG Networks. Caesars Sportsbook will have a branded, premium hospitality space inside Madison Square Garden that will be open for all Knicks and Rangers games, as well as additional select events.
Hologram Startup PORTL Inc. Lands $12M Series A Led by TRUE Capital Management
PORTL Inc., the “plug and play” holoportation platform that lets people beam anywhere in the world in real-time, lifesize, 3D form, announced the close of its $12M Series A round. The round was led by TRUE Capital Management and was joined by returning investor, Tim Draper plus entertainment and sports stars including Marshawn Lynch, Quavo, Breanna Stewart, Albert Pujols, Luke Walton and others.
Division Street, Opendorse to Launch NIL Marketplace for Oregon Athletes
Division Street and Opendorse announced the launch of the Official NIL Marketplace of the Oregon Ducks. The Opendorse-powered marketplace will be used by supporters to connect with University of Oregon athletes to book appearances, autograph sessions, video shoutouts, social media content and more.
Colorado and The Brandr Group Launch Group Licensing for Student-Athletes
The University of Colorado and The Brandr Group have agreed to a group licensing program that enables Colorado athletes to use the school’s official trademarks and logos for the Buffs’ 17 athletic men’s and women’s programs. The partnership with The Brandr Group allows Colorado student-athletes to create collective deals to benefit from their NIL co-branded with the Buffaloes’ logos and marks in licensing and marketing programs.
West Virginia University and The Brandr Group Launch Group Licensing for Student-Athletes
West Virginia University and The Brandr Group have established a group licensing agreement for the university’s student-athletes covering all the Mountaineers’ 18 varsity sports. This partnership creates new opportunities for West Virginia’s student-athletes to profit off their Name, Image and Likeness using the school’s official trademarks and logos.
FanAI Secures $3 Million Series A Extension
FanAI, a platform that helps brands assess and optimize the impact of sports sponsorships on sales, has secured a $3 million Series A extension. The funding round was led by OneTeam Partners, Wasserman and Tech Coast Angels. FanAI previously secured $8 million in a Series A funding round led by Japanese business conglomerate Marubeni Corporation, with other investors including Sterling VC, Allectus Capital, CRCM Ventures, GC Tracker Fund, M Ventures, GFR Fund and Courtside Ventures.
GameOn Partners With Kevin Garnett-Backed Gaming Society to Elevate Women’s Sports
GameOn Entertainment Technologies Inc., a provider of white label fan engagement technologies around sports, TV and live events, announced a partnership with Gaming Society. The partnership entails predictor games that will enable fans to make free-to-play bets on women’s sports such as the WNBA, NWSL, Women’s Premier League, W Series, Premier Hockey Federation and more.
SageSpot Closes $3 Million Seed Round, With Investment From Brady and McIlroy
SageSpot, the social platform for content creators, announced it closed a $3 million seed round led by Khosla Ventures, with additional investment from superstar athletes Tom Brady, Rory McIlroy, Torrie Wilson, Larry Fitzgerald and others. The capital will support the further development of its platform and allow the company to expand its current roster of creators.
U.S. Ski & Snowboard Partners With Staples on Line of Branded Merchandise
U.S. Ski & Snowboard has named Staples Promotional Products, a division of Staples, Inc., as the official licensee managing its new line of branded merchandise, ecommerce website and its partners’ and affiliates’ promotional merchandise programs.