Welcome to Sportico’s Transactions wire, a weekly rundown of personnel, partnerships and purchases across the sports business industry.
NCAA Hires Notre Dame Deputy AD Mario Morris as CFO
The NCAA has named Mario Morris senior vice president of administration and chief financial officer. Currently the executive deputy athletics director at Notre Dame, Morris starts his position at the NCAA on Sept. 12. “We are fortunate to welcome a leader like Mario to the national office,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said. “He brings a wealth of experience leading teams in financial operations and an expertise in the issues of college athletics.” Morris will be responsible for providing strategic leadership and oversight of all financial activity and administrative operations for the NCAA. “We are in a time of tremendous change in college athletics, and I look forward to making an impact and contributing where I can,” Morris said.
Legends Brings On Brett Unzicker as Partner Solutions VP
Legends announced the hiring of sports and entertainment veteran Brett Unzicker as senior vice president, partner solutions, for the company’s global technology solutions division. The division works with all areas of Legends business by leveraging data and analytics, insights, innovation, and digital solutions to provide actionable insights and solutions for clients. Unzicker will lead the sales team for the division and secure new business opportunities for Legends as a whole. He was most recently global vice president and general manager of sports & entertainment at Tomorrow.io, a weather and climate security platform. In executive leadership roles at two different Fortune 50 companies, he has crafted numerous partnerships with leading teams like Hendrick Motorsports, the Golden State Warriors, the New York Mets, and the Las Vegas Raiders.
Dapper Labs Taps Google’s Ivanova-Limon for Global Football Partnerships
Teodora Ivanova-Limon is joining Dapper Labs as its new VP of global football partnerships. She is joining from Google where she led sports and media partnerships and was responsible for Google’s agreements with some of the world’s biggest sports and entertainment IP owners including FIFA, IOC and BBC. She was also senior business development lead at Google Stadia, working with gaming giants like Ubisoft, as well as head of content partnerships at Google TV, where she led Google’s relationships with the UK Media industry. She lives in London.
FloSports Adds Erturk, Baker to Executive Team
Leading sports streaming and media company FloSports announced two new executive appointments with the hiring of Ozge Erturk and Joe Baker. Erturk joins the company as chief marketing officer while Joe Baker is added as VP, production. Erturk comes to FloSports after five years at Amazon, where she held several senior global and regional marketing roles, including head of U.S. marketing for Amazon subscriptions & product discovery, head of global consumer marketing and head of paid media for Amazon Pay. Prior to joining FloSports, Baker was with ESPN for 29 years working in studio operations, studio production and remote operations. Most recently, he oversaw production operations for ESPN’s college networks, including Longhorn Network, SEC and ACC Networks.
Excel Sports Management Names New Hires in Marketing and Finance
Excel Sports Management announced two new hires this week: Sydney Sorkin comes on as coordinator, partnership analytics, brand marketing, while Jeff Vetter joins the company as director, financial planning and analysis, finance. Prior to joining Excel, Sorkin, who will be based in the Chicago office, was a marketing data analyst at Zoomph. Vetter was previously a senior manager for financial planning analysis at Bartleby Technologies Pvt Ltd. He will be based in Excel’s New York office.
Premier Hockey Federation Announces 3 New Front-Office Hires
The Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) announced the addition of three new staff members to a growing list of front office leaders ahead of the 2022-23 season. The new hires include Brianna Decker, who joins as team and player development advisor; Marissa Halligan, named lead, league operations developer; and Nichole Bargo, appointed to the role of director of finance. Decker returns to the PHF where she was a member of the 2016 Isobel Cup champions and earned back-to-back MVP honors with the Boston Pride during the league’s first two seasons. Halligan has close to 15 years of leadership and operations experience in hockey, including more than a decade with the U.S. Women’s National Team and Development Programs in her role as USA Hockey’s manager, women’s ice hockey. Bargo is the co-owner and founder of Illinois-based Esteemed Profit LLC, a small business aimed at assisting other small businesses to help conserve startup funds normally spent on payroll and accounting costs. As the PHF’s finance director, she will be responsible for managing all aspects of day-to-day financial operations including budgets, accounting, treasury, and financial functions.
ESPN Platforms Team With INFLCR on College Athlete NIL Database
ESPN today announced a collaboration with INFLCR, the leading content and compliance software platform for elite athletics, preparing staff and college athletes for opportunities and guidelines around name, image and likeness (NIL). Andscape, a multimedia platform dedicated to embracing and sharing the full range of black culture and identity, and espnW, the multimedia brand serving the interests of female fans at the intersection of women, sports and culture, are the first ESPN properties to have their own branded pages within the INFLCR app, serving as a content and communication hub with direct access to INFLCR’s global exchange database. The database, which hosts 65,000-plus collegiate athletes across 4,000-plus NCAA teams, will receive relevant content from Andscape and espnW to help inform them about upcoming news and ongoing events/promotions available for them to participate in.
Morgan Stanley Partners With Minority Football Coaches Group
The National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches (NCMFC) and Morgan Stanley Global Sports & Entertainment (GSE) have partnered to introduce new programming and engagements aimed at providing the coalition’s roughly 1,200 members nationally with tools, skills and resources to aid in their career advancement. NCMFC members consist of American football coaches at all levels, spanning the youth to professional ranks. This collaborative effort will focus heavily on financial literacy and education, wealth management and professional development of NCMFC members—preparing, promoting and producing minority leaders at all levels of football. “As NCMFC coaches and executives advance their careers, the vital skills provided by Morgan Stanley and its global sports & entertainment division will become more and more essential,” said Mike Locksley, NCMFC founder and president, and the University of Maryland head football coach. While the vast majority of football players in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision are minorities, currently 82% of head football coaches are white. In the NFL, where black players make up nearly 70% of rosters, three of the NFL’s 32 teams are led by black head coaches, while there are seven black general managers.
VR Sports Trainer Sense Arena Moves Into Tennis With Navratilova
Sense Arena, the world leader in cognitive virtual reality sports training, today announced it is launching a new tennis training platform and partnering with International Tennis Hall of Fame player Martina Navratilova. Like the company’s groundbreaking ice hockey training tool, which was released in 2018, Sense Arena for Tennis provides players with enhanced visualization, allowing them to improve the mental aspects of their game such as anticipation and decision-making skills. With Sense Arena, professional, amateur and youth athletes will be able to train in nontraditional environments such as gyms, garages and basements. Sense Arena for Tennis is available immediately for pre-orders and will officially launch in early October on the Meta Quest. Navratilova, who won 59 Grand Slam event titles during her illustrious career and owns both a singles career Grand Slam and a doubles single-year Grand Slam, will serve as Sense Arena’s global tennis ambassador.
Tom Brady’s Autograph Brand Announces New Fan Product
Autograph, the Web3 brand co-founded by Tom Brady, is launching a premium new product, Autograph Signature Experiences, aimed at creating the future of fandom. Autograph’s first signature experience will kick off with The Huddle, a collaboration with Brady. Autograph Signature Experiences will be an interactive program that offers fans unprecedented access to exclusive in-person events, limited-edition physical and digital merchandise, creative collaborations, invite-only communication channels and curated forums. On Sept. 8 on Autograph.io, fans can gain access to Brady’s The Huddle by purchasing a Season Ticket, a dynamic NFT that will evolve to reflect Brady’s statistics and achievements through a stunning visual progression throughout the 2022-2023 NFL season.
Pac-12 and Twisted Tea Forge Multiyear Marketing Deal
The Pac-12 and Twisted Tea announced a multiyear partnership that welcomes Twisted Tea as the Official Hard Iced Tea of Pac-12 football, as well as an official partner of the Pac-12 Football Championship Game, presented by 76. “We are pleased to welcome Twisted Tea to our family of Pac-12 official partners,” said Pac-12 Networks executive vice president, sales, Steve Tseng. As part of the new partnership, Twisted Tea will also serve as presenting sponsor of a new Pac-12 Networks feature, “Gameday Traditions,” a deep dive each Saturday into the origins of the unique game day traditions across the conference football landscape. In addition, Twisted Tea will also receive a number of signage, marketing and hospitality benefits for the Pac-12 football’s annual title game, as well as linear and digital media promotion across the Pac-12 and Pac-12 Networks platforms.