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Goodell says Commanders' culture "toxic" for far too long....Congress could subpoena Washington's Dan Snyder....PGA Tour's Monahan meets with press on LIV

Goodell doesn't have "authority" to remove Snyder

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight & Reform to testify under oath, and he was "pressed aggressively" by U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) on "whether he would remove" Dan Snyder as Commanders Owner. Goodell said, “I don’t have the authority to remove him” (NBCSPORTS.com, 6/22). Reading his opening statement and answering questions from lawmakers via Zoom, Goodell mentioned the $10M fine levied toward the Commanders and removal of owner Dan Snyder from "day-to-day operations" of the club. He also "touted the percentage of women hired across the league in 2021 and the NFL's prioritization of 'diversity, equity and inclusion.'" Goodell: "We have been open and direct about the fact that the workplace culture at the Commanders was not only unprofessional, but toxic for far too long" (USA TODAY, 6/22).

The hearing was part of the committee’s ongoing investigation into "allegations of misconduct within the Commanders workplace and the NFL’s handling of them." Goodell has repeatedly said that the NFL "opted against issuing a written report related to Beth Wilkinson’s investigation into the Commanders’ workplace because the league wanted to protect the identity of those who came forward." Asked why the league could not have issued a written report that concealed names, Goodell said, “Redaction doesn’t always work in my world.” U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) noted the league "had another published report about sexual harassment with the Miami Dolphins, where the names were redacted." Goodell responded that "his 'recollection' was [that] no one involved in the Miami Dolphins case requested confidentiality and those with the Commanders did." Goodell also told the committee that he "does not recall the league being informed in 2009 of the allegations of sexual harassment and assault" against Snyder (WASHINGTON POST, 6/22).

Congress looking to issue subpoena for Snyder

In her closing remarks during today's hearing on Capitol Hill regarding the Commanders, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) stated it was her “intent to issue a subpoena” for team owner Dan Snyder to “appear for a deposition next week.” Maloney: “We will not be deterred by billionaire owners or political posturing. The victims demand answers and we all demand justice.” Snyder was not present at today's hearing, but the committee set up a microphone, name placard and empty chair for him, making his absence obvious (Mult., 6/22)

Maloney: "Mr. Snyder's refusal to testify sends a clear signal that he is more concerned about protecting himself than coming clean to the American public. If the NFL is unwilling to hold Mr. Snyder accountable, then I am prepared to do so. The Committee will not be deterred in its investigation to uncover the truth of workplace misconduct at the Washington Commanders" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/22).

PGA Tour-LIV battle: Monahan meets the press

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan this afternoon met with the media for the first time since the launch of LIV Golf, addressing a number of topics, from the Tour's plan for a revamped schedule to how it keeps up with a series like LIV that seemingly has endless financial resources. Among the topics:

  • On LIV Golf: "We welcome good, healthy competition. The LIV Saudi golf league is not that. It's an irrational threat; one not concerned with the return on investment or true growth of the game."
  • On if the PGA Tour's schedule alterations were in response to LIV: "We've been on a path for a number of years to strengthen and evolve our product for the benefit of our fans and players alike. Those plans are obviously accelerated in light of the current environment" (GOLFDIGEST.com, 6/22).
  • On if the PGA Tour can keep up with LIV's resources: "If this is an arms race and if the only weapons here are dollar bills, the PGA Tour can't compete. The PGA Tour, an American institution, can't compete with a foreign monarchy that is spending billions of dollars in an attempt to buy the game of golf."
  • On how the PGA Tour is funding the substantial purse increases: "These increases will be funded by sponsor support and supplemented in the short term by the operating reserve" (ESPN.com, 6/22).
  • On the PGA Tour's alliance with the DP World Tour, which has not yet suspended LIV players: "The PGA Tour and DP World Tour, while in a strategic alliance, are two separate organisations. So we're going to do what we've done every step of the way, which is to follow our regulations and follow them very closely."
  • On if the PGA Tour would ever welcome back LIV players: "One event has been played, more are to come, and I think our position there is very well-established as it relates to any players that are going to play in future events" (BUNKERED.co.uk, 6/22).

Social media reacts to Monahan's press meeting

Reactions varied on social media this afternoon to PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan's first meeting with the press since LIV Golf launched earlier this month. Among the takeaways:

  • Golf.com's Sean Zak: "Jay Monahan, who has refused to take meetings with various rival tours or financial backers, says he has taken LIV Golf seriously the entire time. I cannot agree."
  • CBS Sports' Kyle Porter: "Under threat from a rival tour, here is the PGA Tour's response. 1999: 'Limited field, no cut events for big money.' 2022: 'Limited field, no cut events for big money.' Little creativity or evolution and no ability to guarantee contracts like every other league in the world."
  • Golf reporter Geoff Shackelford: "I don’t believe I heard any mention of the @DPWorldTour in Jay Monahan’s opening statement. None of the boosted events are co-sanctioned. Not a good sign for the 'strategic alliance.'”
  • Bro Bible's Mark Harris: "Jay Monahan just said - out loud on live television - 'I’ve taken [LIV Golf] very seriously from the outset, I wouldn’t say I’ve underestimated it at all.' I’m gonna have to disagree, commissioner."
  • Bunkered Golf's Bryce Ritchie: "I still have to pinch myself that the PGA Tour are being slapped around like this. Quite incredible what they’ve had to do to try and hold on to players. And it’s not worked."
  • Golf Digest's Sam Weinman: "A deft tap dance by Jay Monahan when asked if he thoughts players were underpaid. 'I want every player to make more money.' The true answer, of course, is that top golfers were already absurdly well compensated before the Saudis entered the fray. But he can't say that."
  • The Fried Egg: "The PGA Tour could have announced these changes months ago, but didn’t. Monahan must’ve thought he had already won the war, and didn’t think any work had to be done."
  • PGA Tour player Jon Curran: "Jay Monahan for president."
  • Marketer Samantha Marks: "A lot of us have given a lot of shit to Jay Monahan the past few weeks (months), but I'm very impressed with how he handled himself in that press conference."

Big Ten lines up Women's Leadership Summit

The Big Ten will host its inaugural Women’s Leadership Summit tomorrow and Friday at the conference's HQ in Rosemont, Ill., commemorating the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX. The invitation-only event will welcome more than 75 student-athletes, coaches and administrators from its 14 member institutions. ESPN's Sarah Spain will serve as emcee on Thursday, with Big Ten Deputy Commissioner Diana Sabau to emcee on Friday. Commissioner Kevin Warren will deliver opening remarks. Other speakers include:

  • Former USTA CEO Katrina Adams
  • Former Big Ten Deputy Commissioner Diane Dietz
  • Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee
  • NWSL Red Stars and USWNT player Tierna Davidson
  • ESPN's Sage Steele
  • Big Ten Network broadcasters Lisa Byington, Emily Ehman and Meghan McKeown
  • Bulls Dir of High Performance & Mental Health Dr. Wendy Borlabi
  • Buccaneers assistant coach Lori Locust 
  • Commanders assistant coach Jennifer King 

This comes as he ACC, Big Ten, and Pac-12 Alliance revealed details for a year-long celebration of Title IX's 50th with a campaign titled, “Celebrating 50 Years of Title IX TogetHER.” A centerpiece of the campaign is a new PSA that the three conferences collaborated on. It will air on the three conference networks, social media platforms and throughout league events and championships. Later this year, each conference will recognize and highlight 50 notable student-athletes, coaches and/or administrators. The Alliance’s Title IX 50th Anniversary Celebration logo will be featured on apparel, signage and other branding items. Also, new today, a dedicated Title IX microsite (SBJ).

MLS, Liga MX hold Leagues Cup upfront in Austin

By Alex Silverman

MLS and Liga MX are hosting more than 60 brand and agency representatives in Austin today to present commercial opportunities associated with the '23 Leagues Cup. Next summer’s tournament will be the first involving all 47 teams from the two leagues, both of which are pausing their regular seasons to accommodate the month-long competition. The top three teams will qualify for the Concacaf Champions League. Liga MX President Mikel Arriola will present insights on the joint initiative along with MLS Deputy Commissioner Gary Stevenson, who will also discuss the impact of the league’s new 10-year, $2.5B media partnership with Apple.

Soccer United Marketing VP/Properties Adrienne Barber and Liga MX Head of Operations Victor Guevara will also address attendees. SUM recently hired VP/Partnership Marketing Paco Francisco and VP/Brand Alliances Evan Levine to lead commercialization of the Leagues Cup, and both are in attendance. Leagues Cup matches will stream globally as part of MLS’ new media rights deal with Apple, except in Mexico, where Liga MX is in discussions with its current media partners about distribution. It remains to be seen how many Leagues Cup matches will air on linear TV in the U.S., as the league is still negotiating with linear TV networks about airing select matches next season.

Learfield Amplify, Elevate partner on sales offerings

By Bret McCormick

Learfield Amplify and Elevate Sports Ventures are expanding Amplify’s National Sales Center offerings to Elevate clients, including pro sports teams, performance venues, and live entertainment events. The sales center helps college athletics, pro sport teams, and entertainment properties with seasonal and event-specific ticket sales, premium need, fundraising, and renewal campaign support on an as-needed basis. Thus far, Pocono Raceway, Professional Bull Riders (PBR), the NCAA and 15 Power 5 universities are working with Learfield Amplify’s Plano, Texas-based sales center. Amplify, which was known as Learfield Ticket & Seat Solutions until early this year, serves more than 100 pro and college sports partners across its overall offerings, including ticketing, development, and seating.

Esports startup Adamas acquires Gscience

By Jason Wilson

Adamas Esports has acquired Gscience, another esports performance company based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Adamas did not disclose financial terms, other than describing them as “significant,” but it said it runs “a seven-figure revenue business.” As part of the deal, Gscience’s leadership team will join Adamas, along with a raft of its coaches and clients. Adamas will also get Gscience’s tech stack, which includes a mobile app that offers a subscription training product. That app is still in development. Adamas said no agencies played a part in this deal.

Adamas launched in '18, and its clients include a slate of esports teams with connections to pro sports: the League of Legends squad for the Golden Guardians (the esports organization that the Warriors own), the Vancouver Titans of the Overwatch League (owned by Canucks Entertainment & Sports), and Version1 (owned by the Wilf family that also owns the Vikings). It also works with TSM FTX and NYXL’s Subliners Call of Duty League team, which has backing from Sterling VC (itself a part of Sterling Equities). 

Read the full story from The Esports Observer.

Want more esports? Check out SBJ's special esports landing page

Dow's golf roster commits to sustainability

By David Broughton

Dow Chemical's LPGA and PGA Tour player endorsers will “commit to minimizing and offsetting all their travel and evaluating their own lifestyle, calculate their carbon footprint for themselves and their entourage, and compensate for unavoidable emissions through climate mitigation projects with Geo Foundation for Sustainable Golf,” according to Chris Chandler, Exec Dir of the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational and Dow’s sports marketing leader. Geo’s OnCourse software program tracks, shares and reports the formal sustainability initiatives of golf tournaments. Dow’s golf roster consists of Suzann Pettersen, Maria Fassi, Katherine Kirk, Danny Lee and Corey Pavin.

College Notes: Taymar partners with MSU

Taymar Sales U. and Michigan State Athletics signed a multiyear agreement for the company to install and manage an outbound ticket sales and service team that will work in collaboration with the athletic department and its ticket office. MSU is the 16th school to sign on with the company (Taymar Sales U.).

Division Street on its Ducks of a Feather NFT platform will launch a collection -- “Visions of Flight” -- that will benefit participating Univ. of Oregon women student-athletes. The NFTs were designed in collaboration with 12 UO women athletes to create a 1-of-1 NFT for each. The collection goes on sale June 30 starting at 12:00pm PT at ducksofafeather.xyz (Division Street).

Paciolan has entered a new relationship with the Univ. of Akron for marketing, mobile ticketing, and digital access to athletics events (Paciolan). 

Speed Reads....

Bobby Marks has a new multiyear deal to remain an NBA insider for ESPN. He will appear on the network’s coverage of the NBA Draft on Thursday. Marks first joined ESPN in ’17 after 20 years in the league, including five as Nets Assistant GM. Prior to ESPN, he was at Yahoo Sports (Austin Karp, SBJ).

The NBA, Mavericks, Stars, Rockets and Spurs are teaming up to provide the initial funding for the Sport for Healing Fund. The fund will provide long-term support for the Uvalde community by creating and investing in trauma and healing-centered care for youth and families. Efforts will be anchored around sports and building safe places, like community outdoor play areas (Spurs).

The MLB Rangers have partnered with Concerto to develop and launch the Rangers Clubhouse Rewards Mastercard. Cardholders can use the card to earn points on all their purchases, which can then be redeemed for game tickets, merchandise, memorabilia and exclusive experiences (Rangers).

Professional Bull Riders today announced the full television schedule for the inaugural 11-event PBR Team Series, which begins in July. CBS, Paramount+, CBS Sports Network or Pluto TV will carry all 112 games in the '22 Teams regular season, as well as the three-day playoff and championship (PBR).

Fanatics President of Business Affairs Gary Gertzog today was recognized with the David J. Stern Leadership Award at the UJA-Federation of New York Sports for Youth Luncheon at Gotham Hall. ESPN's Adam Schefter served as emcee for the event, and Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin presented Gertzog with the Award (Fanatics).

Michael Rubin, Gary Gertzog and Adam Schefter at today's UJA-Federation of New York Sports for Youth LuncheonMichael Priest

Today in SportTechie....

Podcast Picks: An Apple a day

“World Soccer Talk” discussed the recent MLS media rights deal with Apple TV, with co-host Kartik Krishnaiyer noting ESPN “did not make a bid for the streaming and local game component, which kind of shocks me given that has lived within ESPN+” for several years now. Krishnaiyer added his “initial optimism” upon hearing about the deal was “really about MLS linking up with a brand like Apple.” Krishnaiyer: “You can’t buy that sort of credibility.”

HOSTS WITH THE MOST: With FIFA announcing the host cities for the '26 FIFA World Cup in North America, Alexi Lalas on his "State of the Union Podcast" said there was some “sadness” Nashville was not selected. But Lalas said this is "their own fault because they evidently had to do a lot of improvements” to Nissan Stadium.

GIVE THEM LIBERTY: “Locked On Women’s Basketball Podcast” co-hosts Jackie Powell and Howard Megdal attended the premiere of the new WNBA documentary, “Unfinished Business,” at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film chronicles the N.Y. Liberty, with Powell saying the past Liberty players featured in the film are “part of a storybook that they started.” Powell: “If they don’t show up in the ways in which they do, the Liberty story isn’t told.”

Know of a podcast we should keep tabs on? Send an email to pbounds@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Also, check out SBJ's podcast home.

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Check out Sports Business Journal's weekly issue

Don't miss this week's issue of SBJ. Title IX turns 50, and we take a look at the uncertain future of the landmark legislation that changed women's sports forever. Also in this issue: Inside the milestone deal between MLS and Apple; schools are following Boise State's early bet on NIL; and our debut finance column from writer Chris Smith examines the continuing fall of the once-trendy SPAC investment craze.

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Daily Digit....

4.9 million -- Increase in people who played tennis in the U.S. in '21 compared to '19, up 27.9% to 22.6 million players. That growth was driven by increases in participation by youth players ages 6-17 (up 50%), Hispanic/Latino players (up 60%) and Black/African-American players (up 43.75%) (USTA).

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