Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Larry Scott Resigns

by Savannah

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

· Six-year tenure as CEO highlighted by unprecedented growth for sport and business

· Tour Board to determine selection process for next Chairman and CEO in due course

MIAMI, Florida – The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour announced today that Larry Scott will step down as the Tour’s Chairman and CEO to become Commissioner of the NCAA’s (National Collegiate Athletic Association) PAC-10 Conference, effective July 1, 2009. Scott will work with the Tour Board on the selection process for the next Chairman and CEO.

“With women’s professional tennis more popular than ever, the Tour in the strongest business position in its history and a fantastic senior management team in place, now is the right time for me to embrace a new challenge consistent with my family and personal goals, and leave room for the next generation of Tour leadership to take on new responsibilities,” said Scott.

“Under Larry’s leadership, the Tour and our sport have grown over the past six years beyond anyone’s wildest expectations,” said Steve Simon, Tournament Board Representative and Chairman of the Tournament Council. “As an organization and sport, we are positioned for continued success. We wish Larry the very best in his new role, and are looking forward to beginning the process of selecting a new CEO for the organization to lead us into the future.”

“Players have always appreciated Larry’s understanding of their issues and his sense of fairness, and the results over his tenure in terms of player prize money increases, equal prize money to the men, promotion and player health initiatives are major achievements,” said Lisa Grattan, Player Board Representative and Chairperson of the Players’ Council.

During his six year tenure as Chairman & CEO of the Tour, Scott is credited with having engineered a remarkable turnaround for the sport, with the Tour and women’s professional tennis in a stronger position today than ever before in its history. Milestone achievements under Scott include: (i) passage of the Tour’s Roadmap plan, the most sweeping reforms to the Tour calendar in history to enhance the women’s tennis product, (ii) achievement of equal prize money at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, with the top 10 events in women’s professional tennis now featuring equal pay, (iii) signing of the largest sponsorship deal in the history of women’s sport and professional tennis with Sony Ericsson at $88 million over 6 years, along with inking deals with a host of other major partners including Whirlpool and Dubai Duty Free, (iv) signing of the largest television deal in the history of the Tour with Eurosport, (v) signing of the largest year-end Tour championships deals in Tour history, with the event hosted by Doha, Qatar from 2008-2010 following a successful two year stint in Madrid, and by Istanbul, Turkey from 2011-2013 at a total value of $84 million, (vi) significant global expansion of the sport into new markets, including establishment of the Tour’s first ever Asia-Pacific headquarters in Beijing, with the Tour poised for major growth in the world’s fastest growing market, (vii) launch of the Tour’s largest ever global marketing campaign, “Looking for a Hero?”, (viii) leadership role in the introduction of more innovations to the sport than in its prior history, including electronic line calling, on-court coaching, pre-match players interviews, interviews with coaches during matches and a new doubles scoring format, (ix) unprecedented lifestyle and fashion coverage of the Tour’s players, and (ix) establishment of the Tour on its strongest financial footing in history, including a 500% increase in sponsorship revenues and two and one half times increase in overall revenues, a 40% increase in prize money and $710 million in new stadium investments.

What does the future hold for the WTA? I don't know what the suits will decide. Here's what I think.

  • Scrap the RoadMap
  • No Mandatory tournaments. Set up a system like the ATP where you have "Masters" events where everyone is expected to attend. Otherwise players can play where they want when they want.
  • Get Rid of on court coaching.
  • Realize that there is a demand for women's tennis and expand media coverage for the Tour, not just one designated "face of the WTA".
  • Better Internet and broadcast television coverage of tournaments.
  • Better promotion of up and coming players.
  • A more fan friendly approach to women's tennis. This would include early and accurate information on tournaments including Challengers and Exhibitions.

Will this be when the tours merge? With Scott at the helm of the WTA it was something I was against. Now that he's gone maybe this is back on the front burner.


Karen said...

quick question - arent' the Masters Series on the men's side mandatory?

Savannah said...

Yes. They're mandatory if your ranking is above a certain level. I don't have a problem with the WTA creating it's own Masters Series events. I think the Premier Level events are a step in this direction.

It's when you start saying only X number of top ten can play Tournament A or if you play here you can't play there or if you don't play here you'll have to play there that it gets ridiculous.

What the Roadmap has done is split the tour in two, with a championship for the top eight in Doha and a second championship for those not in the top eight but still in the top twenty in Bali.

Will BJK become the new WTA head and work towards a merger of the tours?

Karen said...

I was about to say that I think BJK would not be the best leader for the tour, but after thinking it about it some more I think she would perhaps be the best person to represent women's tennis. My only difficult with her is that she may not have what it takes to deal with certain interests (read Dubai) as in her ability to be politically correct when dealing with sponsorship issues. I think the WTA needs someone who is not only outspoken but knows how and when to become skilled in soft speak - so to speak. In that regard I would nominate either Pam Shriver (without the whole divorce issues), Mary Jo Fernandes or Mary Carillo (who I think is way under rated too much in tennis circles)