Welcome to Sportico’s Transactions wire, a weekly rundown of personnel, partnerships and purchases across the sports business industry.
PGA Tour Superstore Elevates Two Execs
PGA Tour Superstore owner and chairman Arthur Blank has promoted Dick Sullivan from president and chief executive officer to executive chairman and CEO and elevated Jill Spiegel from chief merchandising officer to president, making her one of the highest-ranking women in the golf industry and across Blank’s portfolio of businesses. Sullivan’s work with Blank’s businesses dates back to The Home Depot in the 1990s, where Sullivan held various senior roles culminating as the home improvement retailer’s chief marketing officer. When Blank bought the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons in 2002, he tapped Sullivan to lead marketing for the team. In 2010, Blank purchased the 10-store PGA Tour Superstore, and Sullivan moved from the Falcons to become CEO and sales have grown more than 500% during his tenure. Spiegel joined PGA Tour Superstore in 2011 as VP of merchandising, soft goods. Prior to joining PGA Tour Superstore, Spiegel held merchandising roles at Belk Department store and Macy’s.
Big 12 Brings on Execs for Marketing, Cultural and Business Initiatives
The Big 12 has hired Tyrel Kirkham, chief marketing officer, and Clark Williams, associate vice president, brand communications, to coordinate strategy on brand modernization, cultural marketing and student-athlete and organizational storytelling, as well as business ventures. Kirkham spent the last two seasons with the NBA’s Detroit Pistons as VP of brand & marketing strategy, overseeing influencer and cultural marketing, game presentation, events, social media and merchandising. Before joining the Pistons, Kirkham worked with the Los Angeles Rams, the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Mets. Williams also comes from the Detroit Pistons, where he had served as the director of communications since 2020, overseeing brand and strategic communications, while managing basketball communications. Prior to joining the Pistons, Williams worked with Roc Nation Sports, the NFL, Atlanta Falcons and Puma.
Excel Sports Management Adds a Pair in Marketing
Sports agency Excel has made two new hires in marketing roles. Austin Ryback, who was a partnership marketing account manager at BSE Global, comes on as a manager, brand marketing, while Sydnee Bryant joins as a coordinator, marketing. Previously, she’d been a community relations intern for the Washington Commanders. Both will be based in the New York office.
Sports Media Veteran Joins Playmaker as Senior Advisor
Playmaker, a leading social media sports and entertainment content platform, has brought on Mike Stricoff, a sports media veteran and digital content producer, in a senior advisory role. Stricoff will contribute to the continued expansion of Playmaker’s short-form content offerings on social media platforms such as Snap Discover, TikTok and YouTube Shorts. Stricoff brings more than a decade of expertise within sports media, most recently at Snap Inc. Stricoff has also worked as a producer at both Fox Sports and MLB Network.
Four-Time Olympian Named TitletownTech Advisor
TitletownTech, a venture capital partnership between the Green Bay Packers and Microsoft, has appointed four-time Olympian Angela Ruggiero as an advisor. In this role Ruggiero will help source, evaluate and mentor companies in the firm’s portfolio, as well as extend the greater network. Ruggiero is the CEO and co-founder of Sports Innovation Lab, a fan intelligence and market research company that helps sports organizations understand who their fans are, and how technology is changing their behavior. Ruggiero earned four successive Olympic medals in ice hockey en route to her induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Legends Promotes Exec to Senior Vice President, International Retail
Legends has appointed Victoria Hawksley as SVP, international retail for the company’s global merchandise division. Hawksley, who joined Legends in January 2020 as VP, international retail, has spearheaded significant international growth since her arrival, including new partnerships with 2023 Rugby World Cup, the European Tour, Ryder Cup 2023 and 2027 and record merchandise sales across all channels for Real Madrid. In her new position, she will continue to oversee all merchandise strategy and operations for Legends outside the United States. Prior to joining Legends, Hawksley spent 14 years with Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, rising to the role of head of retail and visitor attractions.
FEVO Adds Industry Vet as Chief Commercial Officer
FEVO, a social commerce company that allows friends to shop together online, has added ticketing industry veteran Steve DeMots as chief commercial officer and head of alliances. DeMots joins FEVO from Paciolan, where he served as chief revenue officer. Prior to that, he was at Major League Baseball’s Tickets.com. DeMots will work closely with FEVO’s business development, marketing, product and partnership teams to help expand adoption and brand presence in live events.
Chicago Bulls and Sportfive Expand Partnership to France
The Chicago Bulls and Sportfive have expanded their existing partnership, allowing the the marketing agency and the team to develop a comprehensive strategy to grow its fan base and business in France. The initiative focuses on increasing the team’s brand partners, digital presence and social media following. Sportfive recently helped the Bulls launch their first official French language Instagram account (@leschicagobulls). The partnership comes in advance of the six-time NBA champions playing the Detroit Pistons in a regular season game in Paris at the Accor Arena on Jan. 19, 2023. The Bulls played two preseason games in the French capital in 1997.
Combate Global Inks Deal With Wave Sports + Entertainment for Digital Media Expansion
Hispanic Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) sports franchise Combate Global is launching on TikTok for the first time ever on Oct. 1 thanks to a partnership with Wave Sports + Entertainment. In addition to establishing and managing the Combate Global brand on TikTok, the deal calls for WSE to manage the franchise’s Snapchat discover show. Combate Global will also join WSE’s roster of MMA and combat sports partners featured on Haymakers, WSE’s media brand. Combate Global content will also be distributed throughout WSE’s network of sports and entertainment media brands that reach more than 115 million followers. The move comes as Combate Global, which has the youngest U.S. television audience of any MMA sports franchise, evolves its marketing strategy to reach young MMA fans digitally. MMA is the eighth most popular sport in the world, according to Nielsen Fan Insights 2020.
OneFootball Acquires Startup Gloria, Names Founder as VP
OneFootball, the world’s largest football media platform, announced the appointment of leading gender equality activist, campaigner and tech entrepreneur Victoire Cogevina as VP of women’s football. In 2018, Cogevina co-founded Gloria, a football community which will now be rolled into OneFootball. As part of the transaction, existing Gloria investors—including Alexis Ohanian, Reddit co-founder and founder of VC firm Seven Seven Six; Garry Tan, founder and managing partner of Initialized Capital; and Assia Grazzioli, co-founder of Muse Capital—are transferring their investment to OneFootball.