Menu

Start your morning with Buzzcast: Big 12 closing in on new leader? Salt Lake pivoting to '34? And a future roadmap for the USFL and USL.

Big 12 close to naming Brett Yormark Commissioner

Roc Nation COO Brett Yormark is "finalizing a deal" to be the new Big 12 Commissioner, a "stunning move that brings yet another outsider into college sports’ most exclusive and powerful group." Yormark has spent the last three years at Jay-Z's company, and is "thought of as one of the more connected and bright executives within the entertainment agency industry." He replaces a "legendary figure in college athletics in Bob Bowlsby, and he must navigate a rapidly changing world in a conference dealing with incredible change itself." This follows a "similar decision last year when the Pac-12 hired George Kliavkoff," a former MGM Resorts exec. The Big Ten also "went outside the industry" in '19 with Kevin Warren, a former Vikings exec (SI.com, 6/28).

Critical Deshaun Watson hearing to start today

Browns QB Deshaun Watson's hearing before independent disciplinary officer Sue Robinson is slated to begin today and "possibly extend into Wednesday," after which Robinson "will review the facts gathered during a year-long investigation conducted by the league." The NFL has recommended that Watson "serve an indefinite suspension of at least a year," informing Robinson and the NFLPA of its recommendation last night. The former federal judge will "consider the arguments presented by the lawyers" of the NFL and NFLPA, then "hand down her decision." If she "follows the NFL’s recommendation, it is expected that Watson and the NFLPA will appeal." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "would either preside over that process and make a final determination, or designate another individual to do so" (USA TODAY, 6/27).

Dan Snyder resisting Congressional subpoena

The House Committee on Oversight & Reform said Commanders owner Daniel Snyder has “refused to accept service” of a subpoena. The committee "had asked his attorney, Karen Patton Seymour, if she could accept service of the subpoena, but she declined because she is out of the country." The sides spoke yesterday about "matters beyond the subpoena, including additional concerns, but a resolution was not reached on the delivery of the document." Congress "could hold Snyder in contempt if he refuses to comply with the subpoena." But Snyder "could attempt to run out the clock on the Democrats if he can resist testifying long enough and the Republicans take control of the House -- and, therefore, the committee -- in January" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/27).

Nike beats the street in Q4 despite shipping issues

Nike reported Q4 earnings and said that "continued chaos in the shipping industry has become a significant drag on the company’s profit margins." The company's quarterly sales hit $12.2B, a 1% decrease from the same period a year ago. Nike earned $1.4B in the quarter, a 3% decline from the previous Q4. For the FY ending May 31, the company earned $6B on total revenue of $46.7B, and the revenue figure was a 5% increase from the prior 12 months. For Q4, "both total revenue and profitability topped Wall Street expectations." Given all the "financial headwinds, it could have been far worse" (Portland OREGONIAN, 6/28). At presstime, shares of Nike were trading at $108.01, down 2.25% (SBJ).

See more from last night's SBJ Unpacks.

Expanding USL taps Legends to add sponsors

By Alex Silverman

The rapidly expanding USL has chosen Legends to support its commercial growth, agreeing to a multi-faceted partnership through 2031. The initial focus of the alliance will be sponsorship sales at the league and club levels, but USL also expects Legends to provide support in assessing potential expansion locations and planning facilities projects in those markets. Other areas of collaboration will include ticketing, fan experience, hospitality, technology and consumer products. Legends won USL’s business through an RFP process that initially involved five companies. Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed. USL Chief Commercial Officer Court Jeske led the process on the property side, and Legends Global Sales VP & GM Todd Fleming played a key role in securing the agreement.

With the launch of a women’s pro league coming next year and its two pro men’s leagues growing quickly, Jeske said the time is right for USL to make a major push to grow its sponsorship business. Current USL partners include Puma, Hisense, Konami and Cleer Audio. “We feel that the corporate marketplace is ready for this USL story and to understand this soccer opportunity in North America, and Legends is a great partner to do that,” Jeske said, adding that the organization is aiming to grow sponsorship revenue by five times in the next four years.

USL operates two men’s pro leagues, the USL Championship and League One, and is starting a women’s league called the Super League in August 2023. It also operates pre-professional leagues for both men and women, as well as two national youth leagues. With the upcoming addition of the 10 founding Super League clubs and a handful of new teams on the men’s side, the organization plans to grow its portfolio of professional clubs from 38 to around 50 by next year and close to 80 by the 2026 FIFA World Cup in North America.

Legends Co-President & COO Mike Tomon touted the company’s ability to leverage data to evaluate potential expansion markets and help USL hit its ambitious growth targets. “Our ability to help scale such an exciting and massive undertaking is what really got us excited,” Tomon said. “When there's a vision and you know you can contribute, special things happen out of those types of partnerships.” Legends’ roster of clients in global soccer includes AC Milan, Barcelona, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and U.S. Soccer. Tomon also pointed to the league’s recent work for the Professional Fighters League as an example of the company’s ability to help facilitate league growth on multiple fronts.

Berrettini, Cilic out of Wimbledon with coronavirus

Matteo Berrettini, a finalist at Wimbledon last year, withdrew from this year’s tournament today after testing positive for the coronavirus. Berrettini was "one of the leading contenders for the men’s singles title," and his withdrawal came "one day after another player, Marin Cilic, the No. 14 seed from Croatia and a 2017 Wimbledon finalist, also withdrew after testing positive." The dual withdrawal "raised the prospect of an outbreak among the player group at Wimbledon." Berrettini in an Instagram post wrote he has had "flu symptoms and been isolating the last few days" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/28).

Draymond Green gets candid for "Daily Show"

Warriors F Draymond Green said the team's latest NBA title “feels different than any other one ... like the ultimate f*** you.” Comedy Central's Trevor Noah: “Draymond Green says what he feels, Draymond Green says what he means. The fans love you because of this.” Green discussed the interaction of the fans with the players on the court, saying, “I used to feel like fans should be stopped from saying some of the things that they say. Then Commissioner (Adam) Silver comes out and says, ‘Hey man, those Boston fans are great,’ as they’re saying, ‘F*** you, Draymond.’” Green said despite this, Silver is “one of the best CEOs in America,” but “at some point, you’re allowing them to do this." Green: "They know, 'If I yell that to Draymond and he says that back to me, he’s getting fined $25,000, he’s getting fined $50,000.' So what I will say to the commissioner: ‘No problem, that was fun, let them do their thing. But let me do my thing, and don’t hit my pocketbook’” (“The Daily Show,” Comedy Central, 6/27).

Check out Sports Business Journal's weekly issue

Don't miss this week's issue of SBJ. We take a look at the quirky Savannah Bananas and how they're turning the baseball world upside down with their antics. Also, we unveil our 23rd annual class of Forty Under 40 honorees; LIV Golf reaches U.S. shores; and NASCAR sees gains in first-half ratings and attendance.

If you’d like to receive the print issue at your home office, update your delivery address at any time within your account settings here. If you have questions about how and where to receive your print copy, email help@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

Speed Reads....

The Jaguars and recycling company PureCycle Technologies are partnering up to help divert over half a million pieces of plastic waste at TIAA Bank Field from being landfilled or flowing into waterways (PureCycle Technologies).

Shoe brand PF Flyers re-released 1,000 pairs of the original Cousy All American sneaker. Basketball HOFer Bob Cousy in 1958 reached a historic athletic endorsement deal, among the first of its kind (PF Flyers).

PF Flyers

Quick Hits....

“We want to win. We want to make the playoffs and we want to stay there, but there’s no mandate to do so. My job is to build, as I’ve said, the best team that’s going to take the court this year and for years to come” -- NBA Kings GM Monte McNair, disputing that ownership has mandated a trip to the ’23 postseason to retain his job (SACRAMENTO BEE, 6/28).

“They used to be all about big brands and big names, and now it’s all about Jalen Brunson” -- ESPN’s Pablo Torre, on the Knicks' reported free-agent targets (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 6/27).

“Do you have any idea how hard it is to be too conservative for Utah? They think jazz is basketball” -- CBS’s Stephen Colbert on pro-abortion rights demonstrations taking place around the U.S., including Utah, in response to the conservative SCOTUS ruling to strike down Roe v. Wade (“The Late Show,” CBS, 6/27).

Morning Hot Reads: The Hockey Girls of Kabul

THE ATHLETIC goes with, "The Hockey Girls of Kabul: Their harrowing escape and dreams of an ice-filled future." The coach "left everything behind when she fled." Shazia, whose name has been changed for this story for her protection, "left behind the playground at the school where she’d slowly built the ice surface," left behind the "laughter of each tumble and the joy of each completed stride, the cheers when a student scored a goal or the goalie knocked aside a shot." More than 40 "girls learned to skate and shoot on the rink she tended on a hillside in Kabul."

Also:

Twitter Me This....

Today's Events....

Morgan Stanley is collaborating with First Tee for the 8th Annual Women’s and Girls’ Golf & Fore Mentoring Program at Mosholu Golf Course in The Bronx, where 40 girls (ages 11-18) from the local First Tee chapter will join 30 Morgan Stanley women from the private wealth management business for the day. Morgan Stanley also will fund First Tee internships for two girls. Read more here.

Final Jeopardy!

Last night’s "Final Jeopardy!" category was "The World of Today."

"Partly because it was a monosyllable, this word was chosen as 'a noun that conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission.'"

Last night’s edition of “Jeopardy!” featured the category “F1 Grand Prix Sites.”
$200: “The Monaco Grand Prix is said to be among the ‘Triple Crown’ of autosport with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and this U.S. race in May.”
$400: “After driver complaints, turn 10 at Marina Bay was made less ‘brutal & bumpy,’ as it had been called this Asian city ‘Sling.’”
$600: “The track for the Russian Grand Prix in this city was formed using roads built for the 2014 Olympics.”
$800: “A mile-&-a-third straight into turn 1 and incredible views of the Caspian Sea highlight the Baku course in this country.”
$1000: “Silverstone is the home track for this British seven-time world champ; part of the circuit was named for him, a first for an individual.”

Today's Back Pages....

The Morning Buzz offers today's back page sports covers from some of North America's major metropolitan tabloids:

N.Y. Post N.Y. Daily News Newsday Boston Herald Chicago Sun-Times Philadelphia Daily News

Final Jeopardy....

"What is 'meme'?"

The correct responses to the “F1 Grand Prix Sites” category were:
$200: “What is the Indianapolis 500?”
$400: “What is Singapore?”
$600: “What is Sochi?”
$800: “What is Azerbaijan?”
$1000: “Who is Lewis Hamilton?”

;