Welcome to Sportico’s Transactions wire, a weekly rundown of personnel, partnerships and purchases across the sports business industry.
NBA Names Duke VP as President, Administration
The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced that Kyle J. Cavanaugh, VP for administration at Duke, has been named NBA president, administration. Cavanaugh, who announced earlier this year that he would be stepping down from his position at Duke, will replace Bob Criqui, who’s retiring after 39 years at the NBA. In his new role, Cavanaugh will oversee the global facilities, information technology, security, risk management, people and inclusion, and administrative affairs of the league and its related entities. He will join the NBA on June 1 and report to NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Cavanaugh has more than 30 years of experience in administration and human resources, including the past 13 years at Duke.
Austin Sports Exec Will Lead PBR Team
Professional Bull Riders is coming to Central Texas with a PBR Team Series event at Austin’s Moody Center scheduled for Aug. 26-28. Texas natives Egon and Abby Durban—owners of the Austin Gamblers, the team representing Texas’ capital city in the new bull-riding league—have selected JJ Gottsch, a longtime Austin sports executive formerly with the Round Rock Express, to serve as chief executive officer. Gottsch will oversee all facets of the business operations of Austin’s latest professional sport. Gottsch spent the last eight years as the chief operating officer of Ryan Sanders Sports and Entertainment. PBR veteran Michael Gaffney was also announced as the head coach of the Gamblers.
Joe Orlando Named President, Sports at Collectable
Sports memorabilia investment platform, Collectable, has hired Joe Orlando as president, sports. Orlando had been the president & CEO of Collectors Universe, the parent company of PSA, and helped make PSA the sports collectible industry’s leading authentication and grading company during his nearly 22 years there. Under Orlando’s leadership, Collectors Universe was acquired for more than $850 million. Part of Orlando’s role with Collectable will be to produce foundational and educational content on the platform.
Wave Sports + Entertainment’s Buckets Adds New Talent and Shows
Wave Sports + Entertainment’s media brand Buckets signed John Nichols, known as LaJethro Jenkins, as a host for “Outta Pocket” and lead producer for Buckets. Nichols has created viral content for more than a decade for Huffington Post, ESPN and others. Nichols will continue to co-host the podcast “Jenkins And Jonez,” and he will reunite with former Yahoo! Sports’ “Dunk Bait” co-hosts Josiah Johnson and Zach Schwartz, who both re-upped with WSE. Also joining WSE is Jordan Ligons, a writer and podcaster who covers women’s sports, pop culture, and how they intersect.
USPBL Names Dana Schmitt as President
The United Shore Professional Baseball League (USPBL) named Dana Schmitt president. Schmitt has served as COO of the USPBL since the league’s inaugural season in 2016. She will lead the USPBL’s business and strategic goals, along with day-to-day operations, working to increase both awareness and revenue for the league. Prior to joining the USPBL, Schmitt served as COO and general counsel of General Sports and Entertainment LLC, the parent company to the USPBL.
Sneaker Co. KYX World Raises New Round From SeventySix Capital and Industry Stalwarts
KYX World’s latest fundraising round, led by SeventySix Capital, brought further investment coming from other key strategic investors including NBA All-Star DeMar DeRozan and Super Bowl Champion Emmanuel Sanders. The industry-first try-before-you-buy and sneaker rental service, KYX is changing the exclusive nature of the footwear industry. With a first-of-a-kind subscription model, KYX subscribers receive fresh sneakers delivered right to their door, wear them freely and then choose to keep, buy, or swap them out for another pair.
Vintage Brand and MOGL Launch NIL College Athlete Merchandise Marketplace
Vintage Brand, a digital sports brand, and MOGL, a compliant NIL marketplace for athletes and brands, have announced a strategic partnership to develop and monetize merchandising brands for all college athletes. The Vintage Brand College Athlete marketplace allows athletes to build and develop their own personal merchandising brand. College athletes are now able to opt-in to the merchandising program via the MOGL platform that empowers all athletes with the opportunity to monetize their name, image and likeness in a safe, secure and compliant way. The platform provides a turnkey ecommerce store, printing, fulfillment and customer service, allowing college athletes earn money on every sale.
Learfield Joins With Recur to Power NFTs for College Sports
Learfield and Recur have partnered to drive the creation and adoption of collegiate digital products and collectibles via Recur’s leading collegiate NFT experience, NFTU.com. The long-term enterprise relationship brings together Learfield’s expertise in college media, sponsorships, fan data, event ticketing, technology, and licensing and Recur NFT technology platform, which will go live March 14. During the multiyear relationship, the companies will deliver commemorative NFT tickets and packages, licensing administration and management through CLC, NFT category-specific college sports marketing sponsorship with Learfield partner institutions, and product development, asset creation, and brand-sponsorable NFT offerings.
Brevettar Inks Deal With U.S. Soccer Players Association
Sports licensing agency Brevettar signed a multiyear deal with the U.S. National Soccer Team Players Association under which it will act as the exclusive agency for the association’s group licensing rights worldwide, as well as manage USNSTPA sponsorship opportunities. The USNSTPA represents the rights of the members of the U.S. Men’s National Team. Brevettar is currently working on building the selection of Men’s National Team player driven merchandise available to fans.
Pro Fighters League and Mercury to Create NFT Platform and Collectibles
The Professional Fighters League (PFL) is partnering with Mercury to develop and operate a PFL-branded NFT platform where fans can buy, trade and sell digital collectibles. Mercury, which builds white-label NFT platforms designed to give sports properties, universities and leagues the power to create digital experiences for their fans, will also create league and fighter-inspired NFTs, with products expected to go on sale ahead of the 2022 season beginning April 20. Professional Fighters League is the No. 2 MMA company globally and features a talent roster with 25% of its fighters independently ranked in the top-25 of the world, including 2021 PFL champions Ray Cooper III and Movlid Khaybulaev.
RealResponse Signs Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs
RealResponse, which offers a feedback, monitoring and anonymous reporting platform for athletic teams and organizations, has partnered with the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs, making them the first NFL teams to offer the platform to its employees. The partnership will launch in the coming weeks. The two teams will begin implementing and onboarding staff into the system in the coming weeks. RealResponse already works with the NFLPA for player-related reporting.
Trajektory’s New Analytics Platform Welcomes Chicago Bears, Pittsburgh Penguins
Trajektory, a first-of-its-kind partner intelligence sponsorship analytics platform, launched on Wednesday with a client list that includes the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Union and Pittsburgh Penguins. The platform provides data management and insights that aggregate, visualize, assess and value sponsorship data across all assets in real time. It is the first sponsorship reporting platform that creates a consistent valuation and data methodology across all assets, leveling the playing field for brands’ wide-ranging scope with any property or franchise.
NBC Sports RSNs Partner With Pointsbet on First Dual-Market Sports Betting Telecast
NBC Sports Chicago and NBC Sports Philadelphia are partnering with PointsBet to present BetCast, an alternate live game sports-betting experience, covering the Chicago Bulls at Philadelphia 76ers NBA matchup this Monday at 7 p.m. ET. The Bulls-76ers BetCast marks NBC Sports Regional Networks’ first dual-market sports betting telecast and will be presented on NBC Sports Chicago Plus and NBC Sports Philadelphia Plus. The BetCast will deliver on-screen live odds data powered by PointsBet—including spread, over/under and moving money lines—along with futures odds and player props. The BetCast will also include alternate announcers to provide commentary with a sports betting focus.
World Surf League to Celebrate Inspirational Women in Sport History
The World Surf League (WSL) will host an athlete-led initiative to celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, showcasing the WSL’s commitment to inspire future generations and drive equality in sport. At the MEO Pro Portugal presented by Rip Curl, all WSL Championship Tour surfers will compete wearing jerseys that include the name of a woman in sport who has inspired them. The sleeve of each jersey will also include IWD branding. Every CT competitor has personally selected a woman to celebrate.
Colonial Athletic Association Partners With Fanaply to Launch League’s First NFTs
Fanaply has partnered with the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) to release a series of NFTs supporting the 2022 Colonial Athletic Association Men’s & Women’s Basketball Championships, scheduled for March 5-8 and March 10-13. Collegiate Sports Management Group brokered this partnership, one of the first times any collegiate basketball tournament will offer an official NFT. “We are thrilled to partner with Fanaply to be at the forefront of innovation in college athletics,” said CAA commissioner Joe D’Antonio. An open edition 2022 CAA Tournament NFT will drop on the first day of each tournament and be available for purchase throughout the duration of the events.
Excel Sports Aquires Executive Search Firm Nolan Partners
Excel Sports Management has agreed to acquire sports and entertainment executive search firm Nolan Partners. Nolan Partners will continue to be led by CEO Paul Nolan and president Chad Biagini while operating as a new vertical within Excel’s Properties division. Primarily focused on senior executive and board level roles, Nolan Partners works on a global basis with clients that range from sports teams to governing bodies, professional leagues, venues, agencies, broadcasters and other major corporate organizations in sports. It will continue to operate out of its offices in London and Dallas with select staff joining Excel’s New York headquarters. This marks Excel’s first footprint in Europe and will grow to support the agency’s international business across multiple functions.