Welcome to Sportico’s Transactions wire, a weekly rundown of personnel, partnerships and purchases across the sports business industry
USOPC Names Chief of Sport and Athlete Services
The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee has brought on Rocky Harris as chief of sport and athlete services. This new role includes oversight of athlete service programming—including mental and physical well-being—Olympic and Paralympic sport performance, National Governing Body services, sport operations and collegiate partnerships. Harris will lead teams designed to enhance and support the full athlete lifecycle, NGB operational excellence, competitive results, USOPC training centers, safety and security programs, sports medicine, operations and logistics for the U.S. participation in the Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American, Parapan American and Youth Olympic Games. Harris joins the USOPC from USA Triathlon where he oversaw unprecedented on- and off-field success and organizational advancement.
CAA Names Chief Metaverse Officer
Joanna Popper has been named chief metaverse officer at Creative Artists Agency. Popper will be responsible for establishing and executing the go-to-market strategy and core business priorities for CAA and its clients within the metaverse. In doing so, she will lead a dedicated team of metaverse-focused executives, and will work closely with Alexandra Shannon, CAA’s head of strategic development, and CAA executive Adam Friedman, who guides the efforts of a cross-departmental team of agents working across the NFT landscape. Popper comes to CAA from HP, where she led its XR initiatives for go-to-market, overseeing the launch of award-winning technology, such as the HP Reverb G2 VR headset. She worked closely with studios and XR content creators, including DreamWorks, NBCUniversal, Sony, Disney, Paramount, Microsoft, and others.
WWE Tabs Head of Global Sales & Partnerships
WWE has tapped Craig Stimmel as senior vice president and head of global sales & partnerships. Stimmel—who previously held leadership roles at Snapchat, Procter and Gamble and NCR—will be a key member of the company’s senior management team, responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations and leading WWE’s sales organization while expanding its roster of sponsors and promotional partnerships. Stimmel spent the last three years as head of global brands at Snapchat.
Fanduel Appoints Legal Officer
FanDuel Group has appointed Carolyn Renzin to the position of chief legal officer. Renzin will continue in her role as chief compliance officer for FanDuel Group. The new position expands Renzin’s duties as she will oversee legal, risk, regulatory engagement, compliance and responsible gaming for the company. Before joining FanDuel, Renzin was an assistant general counsel at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., where she worked as a regulatory litigator after the financial crisis and in the office of the general counsel building out the bank’s legal function.
Pac-12 Adds Chief People & Inclusion Officer
The Pac-12 Conference has brought on human resources executive Quashan Lockett for the newly created role of chief people & inclusion officer. Lockett will serve on the Pac-12 leadership team and work across the conference office and with university athletic departments. He will oversee the organization’s holistic people function encompassing HR, talent development, change management, and diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, and he will drive the enhancement and acceleration of the Pac-12’s values-based culture and DEIB and social impact strategies. Lockett most recently served as global head of human resources at On Location, a sports and entertainment premium experiential hospitality company owned by Endeavor.
XFL Names Communications Exec
The XFL has hired Jeff Altstadter as VP, communications. Altstadter will lead day-to-day communications operations, aligning the League’s public and media relations strategies with its priorities to drive awareness and build team and player visibility on a national and local level. He will oversee each of the eight teams’ media relations functions and support teams’ local footprint while scaling nationally. He will also lead efforts in identifying reputational issues and provide real-time support regarding enterprise-level events, including business transactions, material announcements and crisis situations at both the league and team levels. Altstadter brings over 20 years of sports business and public relations experience, and he was most recently the director of publicity for sports betting operator PointsBet USA, overseeing the company’s earned media coverage, public relations and corporate communications.
USA Lacrosse Brings on Three
The national Lacrosse federation has hired three executives for newly created roles within the organization. Ellen Zavian comes on as general counsel. The first female attorney/agent in the NFL, Zavian has represented various player councils over her career including the NFLPA, U.S. Women’s Soccer Team PA and U.S. Women’s Softball Team PA. Kiernan Prechtl Schindler takes over as vice president, commercial partnerships and ventures. A former LPGA golfer, Schindler spent the last 11 years working for the LPGA, first as director of the LPGA Foundation and more recently as senior director, business development and corporate partnerships. Brian Silcott, a two-time NCAA Division III All-American at Nazareth who played in Major League Lacrosse and the National Lacrosse League, comes on board as VP, sport growth and development. Most recently, he served as head of player relations for the PLL.
Qualcomm Becomes Official Global Partner of Manchester United
Manchester United has signed a multi-year global strategic collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. The arrangement will feature the Snapdragon brand. Snapdragon platforms power many of the world’s premium smartphones, PCs, gaming devices, connected cars, smart wearables and more. As part of the deal, the organizations will collaborate on events and experiences for Manchester United fans at Old Trafford and around the world. In addition, Qualcomm Technologies will advise Manchester United on planned improvements to mobile connectivity at Old Trafford, which will enhance fans’ experience on match days.
Isos Co-Founders to Join Progress Acquisition Corporation
Progress Acquisition Corporation and Isos created a partnership that will see Isos co-founders and co-CEOs George Barrios and Michelle Wilson become officers of PGRW. Isos joins Progress to complement the company’s search and negotiations to effect a merger, share exchange, asset acquisition, share purchase, reorganization, or similar business combination with one or more businesses. In addition, Isos managing director Winston Meade will serve as an officer of PGRW. While the company may pursue an initial business combination in any industry, sector or geographic region, it continues to focus on businesses in the global media, entertainment, and technology sectors. Barrios and Wilson’s most recent venture, Isos Acquisition Corporation, announced the completion of its $2.6 billion business combination with Bowlero on Dec. 15, 2021.
Caesars Sportsbook Joins with Memphis Grizzlies
Caesars Entertainment, Inc. and the Memphis Grizzlies have signed a multiyear partnership with Caesars Sportsbook. The partnership includes game day promotions and the opening of a Caesars Sportsbook Lounge on the main plaza for all events at FedExForum. The Chris Vernon Show, The Odds Couple, the GCM Pick ’em Panel and other shows on Grind City Media will all feature Caesars Sportsbook as a presenting partner. Caesars Sportsbook will also receive fixed in-game signage throughout FedExForum and presenting entitlement of the Grizzlies’ pre-game and post-game radio broadcasts, in addition to various digital and social media assets.
PHF Partners With Sportsbubble and Watchsports App
The Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) has inked a deal with SportsBubble Inc., which provides software, marketing and other services to simplify discovery and access to sports. In addition to the PHF, some of SportsBubble’s early partners include Pac-12 Conference and Networks, National Women’s Soccer League, Ladies Professional Golf Association, Athletes Unlimited and U.S. Speed Skating.
VS Training App Launches
VS, a sports edtech company from St. Louis Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol, has officially hit the app store. The platform combining world-class athletes and conversational video A.I. brings exclusive video content covering vital skills and lessons for aspiring athletes to apply on and off the field. It’s the first edtech platform to let users ask questions and receive responses in real time from the brand’s roster of athletes, including Fernando Tatis Jr., Albert Pujols, Jennie Finch, Jessica Mendoza, among others. Courses teach athletic-related techniques in addition to life lessons, such as performing under pressure, dealing with failure, facing down self-doubt and competing at the highest levels.