Sports Management

What exactly does a team president for a sports franchise do?
Michael Cramer, executive director of The Texas Program in Sports and Media, formerly served as president of the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Stars.

His answer: “Pretty much everything except selecting the players and general manager.”

Of course, he said, “It really depends on the team and the extent of the ownership.”

As a result, most of his time was consumed by selling sponsorships and trying to build new stadiums.

Cramer acknowledged that he worked closely with Rangers owner Tom Hicks when deciding on general managers and managers. He admitted that they considered how different hires might affect ticket sales and the team brand.

That thinking might have played a role in Hicks’ desire to go after “top-shelf” people like John Hart as general manager and Buck Showalter as manager.

Before hiring the duo, Hicks, Cramer and their crew enlistedĀ  Dallas-based recruiter Bob Beaudine to draft a book on possible candidates. The list turned up some “non-top-of-the-list candidates,” as Cramer described them. One of those being Oakland Athletics’ scouting director Grady Fuson, who would eventually move up the ranks with the Rangers. But Hicks stuck with his original guts and went with the big names.

“Many candidates wouldn’t have surfaced if you just started calling people you know,” Cramer said. “But the results were mixed.”

Other tidbits from Cramer:

  • Resigning is usually a meeting of the minds between the person leaving and the management staying behind. Both sides know when the time is up. Players get old and sometimes its not a team that matches the manager anymore.
  • The only real downside to being an interim manager, Cramer said, is that you know you are “being scrutinized heavily and that you could be out on the street next year.” But you have to remember that you are “making tons of more money and have an opportunity to show that I am deserving of it.”
  • Turning down an offer to become an interim manager could backfire. So why would you turn down the visibility and money?

Though a fire alarm going off cut my interview short, I also spoke with former Georgetown basketball coach Craig Esherick. He’s now an assistant professor of sport management at George Mason University and color commentator for college basketball games.

He went to law school and even joined the D.C. bar, but he put his career on hold to become an assistant coach for John Thompson at Georgetown. Why?

“An opportunity to be an assistant coach might not always be there,” he said. “I knew my law degree would always be there.”

He started off as a graduate assistant, saying that his four years as a player there served as the interview. He then became an assistant coach and finally the head coach after Thompson retired.

Esherick wasn’t happy when he was fired after Georgetown’s worst season in 31 years. Esherick had a record of 103-74 over the years and the university president had offered him a vote of confidence just days before. Esherick said he had no idea what the president was thinking.

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