Monday, January 12, 2009

Heard Around

by Savannah

Some interesting USTA news.

Garrison-USTA settlement talks break down

Staff writer
Published January 12, 2009 : Page 04

Zina Garrison, the first African-American woman in the professional tennis era to reach the finals of Wimbledon, plans as early as this week to sue the U.S. Tennis Association for racial discrimination after settlement talks broke down over her claims that she was wrongly dismissed as the captain of the American team for Fed Cup, the international women’s team competition.

Her lawyer, Debra Katz, a partner in Katz, Marshall & Banks, which specializes in employer discrimination matters, said Garrison has been in unsuccessful settlement talks with the USTA since last month. Later, in an e-mail correspondence, Katz wrote that a lawsuit would be filed this week. Garrison is seeking millions of dollars in back pay and damages, sources said.

The USTA manages the American Fed Cup team.

A USTA spokesman, Chris Widmaier, responded, “I will not comment specifically on threatened litigation. But I would like to point out that over the years, Ms. Garrison has been asked by the USTA to serve in any number of capacities, including as a USTA board member, a USTA committee member and as captain of the USA Fed Cup team. So what I will say in looking at that history is we would be puzzled by any allegation that Ms. Garrison has been discriminated against, and we would vigorously defend such an allegation.”

This would not be the USTA’s first brush with racial charges. The organization is currently being sued in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York by Marvin Dent, who alleges the group did not promote him to director of tennis at the National Tennis Center in favor of Whitney Kraft, who is white. Dent’s complaint alleges a pattern of racial discrimination at the group, a charge the USTA vigorously contests.

In addition, in 2006, the New York state attorney general and the USTA entered into a consent decree that directed the tennis group for two years to create a transparent process for applying for chair umpire positions. The USTA had been sued in 2005 by two black umpires, Cecil Hollins and Sande French, who alleged the USTA allowed racist comments directed toward African-American umpires

Entire article HERE

There was a lot of talk that Venus Williams and Serena Williams were through with Fed Cup play but we'll have to wait and see who ends up on the team soon no?

Then there's this. It's normal after a major player like Arlen Kantarian steps down for the loyalists to leave but the number of people leaving is high enough for Sports Business Journal to take note.

Sixth high-ranking executive plans to leave USTA
Staff writer
Published January 12, 2009 : Page 04
Tandy O’Donoghue, managing director of business affairs at the U.S. Tennis Association, is leaving the organization, the sixth top executive to announce plans to depart since the end of the U.S. Open in September.

The highest-level departure was Arlen Kantarian, chief executive officer of pro tennis. Kantarian is credited with building the Open into a major cultural and financial spectacle. Many of the people leaving, including O’Donoghue, were his hires.

Alan Gold, who ran the U.S. Open Series, left for CAA Media Ventures. On the sponsorship side, Ronnie Tucker and Gary Jacobus have left. Chief diversity officer Karlyn Lothery also resigned.

In addition, Pierce O’Neil, chief business officer, is on a list of candidates who have either expressed interest in or been approached about filling the vacant chief marketing officer position at the U.S. Olympic Committee.

The USTA’s top executive is Gordon Smith, who took the executive director post in 2007 after a career in law. Sources said the organization does not appear in a hurry to replace the outgoing executives, even with a down economy and a new deal with ESPN to televise the Open starting this year.

O’Donoghue has been with the USTA for five years. Before that, she was chief legal counsel for the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. She said her last day at the USTA will be Feb. 13, but she declined to cite reasons for her departure or to comment on whether she has any new position lined up.

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