ILNews

New track-and-field chief aims to end sport's strife

July 18, 2012
Keywords
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Max Siegel knows something about maneuvering through traffic on a fast track.

So the former NASCAR team executive didn’t hesitate in May to take a two-year contract to be CEO of USA Track and Field, an Indianapolis-based sports governing body known for its political environment and divergent viewpoints.

Undaunted by that reputation, Siegel is promising to pull athletes, their agents, sponsors, event promoters and the sport’s television partners together to lift track and field’s image and revenue – especially domestically.

And he wants to bring big-time track and field meets back to the IUPUI track stadium on a regular basis.
 

il-siegel-max-15col.jpg Max Siegel, a former attorney at Baker & Daniels LLP, joined USA Track and Field as CEO in May. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Siegel has met with representatives of the Indiana Sports Corp. and the mayor’s office, and he’s had discussions with Indiana Pacers President Jim Morris and Browning Investments Inc. CEO Michael Browning – leaders in the city’s amateur sports community – about increasing exposure for track and field and bringing some of the sport’s spotlight events here.

He also has met with leaders from USATF’s primary TV partners – NBC and ESPN –and its primary sponsor, Nike. He plans to launch an ambitious marketing campaign on the heels of this summer’s London Olympics, which begin July 27.

People within the sport describe Siegel, 47, as a more politically savvy and congenial version of his predecessor at USATF, former Major League Soccer executive Doug Logan, who was fired in 2010.

Steve Miller, the USATF board member who led the CEO search, said Siegel’s interview for the position “was killer. He was armed with a tremendous amount of information. His vision was very clear.”

Greg Harger, who coaches an Indianapolis-based track and field team made up of Olympic hopefuls, is optimistic Siegel will balance the needs of the sport’s sponsors and TV partners with that of the athletes.

“I haven’t heard a bad word about Max Siegel in this town or otherwise,” Harger said. “I am hopeful that someone with this kind of marketing background can tackle some of the big and obvious issues facing the sport.”

Siegel must start by listening to USATF’s member athletes, Harger said, something that hasn’t happened in recent years.

“The national office has been running roughshod and it’s ridiculous,” he said.

The recent U.S. Olympic trials, one of USATF’s most high-profile events, provided a rough start for Siegel.

The entire Olympic trials in Oregon were overshadowed by the controversy in the women’s 100-meter dash, in which Jeneba Tarmoh and Allyson Felix appeared to tie for third place.

Siegel and his staff were left hurrying for a solution since they had no procedures in place to deal with the situation. USATF officials even considered a coin flip to determine the outcome.

Further complicating the situation: Tarmoh initially was declared the third-place finisher, earning her the last spot on the U.S. 100-meter-dash Olympic team.

After the two runners agreed to a prime-time run-off on NBC, Tarmoh pulled out the day of the scheduled race, saying she thought she had won the original race.

The prime-time run-off would have been a boon for U.S. track and field. Instead, it turned into a black eye, sports marketers said.

Familiar territory

If Siegel is looking for allies in his effort to polish USATF’s image, he’ll likely find them on familiar ground.

Allison Melangton, who is wrapping up her work as 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee CEO and will take over as president of the Indiana Sports Corp. in September, said she is pleased that someone with Indiana roots is taking USATF’s top job.

“Max knows Indiana and the Sports Corp. well and is passionate about Indianapolis,” Melangton said. “Having Max in that position is a win-win.”

Siegel spent his early career working for Jack Swarbrick as a sports and entertainment attorney at Baker & Daniels LLP before becoming president of Sony’s Zomba Gospel, the world’s largest gospel record company. In 2007, he became president of global operations for Charlotte, N.C.-based NASCAR team Dale Earnhardt Inc. After he left DEI in 2009, he worked as a consultant for NASCAR, launching diversity programs and starting several youth initiatives within the stock car series.

Melangton said Siegel won’t be afraid to make bold changes at USATF.

“Max is a visionary leader and a person that analyzes all the angles,” said Melangton, who first collaborated with Siegel in her days with USA Gymnastics in 1991. “He’s a very skilled and talented leader.”

Melangton is set to meet with Siegel, a native Hoosier and University of Notre Dame graduate, soon to discuss future possibilities and partnerships.

While Melangton said there’s no agenda for their meeting, she made no secret about her interest in bringing national and international track and field events back to Indianapolis.

Built in 1982, the Michael A. Carroll Track & Soccer Stadium at IUPUI once held some of the world’s biggest meets, including the 1988 Olympic Trials. But over the last decade, big-time events there have been infrequent. The last one was the 2007 USATF national championships.

IUPUI recently installed a $1.2 million artificial all-season surface on the track’s infield, but sources close to the sport said the facility needs another $1 million to $2 million in improvements.

“Certainly, getting events into the IUPUI track is on [ISC’s] agenda,” said Melangton, who will replace retiring ISC President Susan Williams. “We want to keep the track in play for national and international events.”

Leveraging pop culture

Siegel thinks the sport can grow revenue by raising the profile of its athletes, which will in turn bring more attention to its events.

“USATF does no advertising,” Siegel said. “None. How can that be? We have compelling stories to tell.”

Siegel is promising to use his media contacts to find some less traditional means of exposure for track-and-field athletes.

“I not only want to work with our TV partners at NBC and ESPN, but I want to diversify, seeking a bigger audience in the African-American and Hispanic markets,” Siegel said. “I want more exposure on ESPN’s SportsCenter, but I also want to forge partnerships with outlets such as [Black Entertainment Television Networks] and gain exposure on programs like ‘Access Hollywood.’

“I’m big on integrating this sport into mainstream pop culture. I want to appeal not only to sports fans, but to become culturally relevant to your mom or a teenager.”

Getting that additional exposure is just one item on a long to-do list that includes improving the event schedule, increasing sponsorship revenue, developing a long-term growth plan, and growing USATF membership.

One of Siegel’s most pressing jobs will be extending USATF’s deal with Visa, which expires after this year. Visa – along with BMW, Nike and Gatorade – is the lifeblood of USATF and its programs. Sponsorship revenue accounts for almost 60 percent of overall revenue.

“Revenue growth is my most pressing concern, but it’s important to remember the most important sponsor is the one you already have,” Siegel said.

USATF’s biggest expenses are elite athlete development and support, but the group also pays to host 20 to 25 cross-country and track events annually, youth and master’s programming, and other member services.

If Siegel can keep his own staff and board of directors happy, he’ll be doing more than his predecessor.

Logan was hired in 2008 and promised to double the organization’s budget from $15 million to $30 million within four years and clean up the Olympic selection process and training programs along the way.

While Logan made some progress, including increasing the organization’s budget by about $5 million, he was fired by the board he helped restructure—cutting its size from 27 to 15 members. Logan lasted just two years.

Ironically, Siegel took a seat on the organization’s board during Logan’s overhaul. After Logan was fired, Siegel’s firm was hired as a consulting agency.

Siegel said he’s happy with the composition of USATF’s board and staff and “won’t grow for growth’s sake.”

“I think if you grow revenue – and that’s my intention – the staff will grow as a result of that.”•
ADVERTISEMENT

  • I tossed a siscus in the air I know not where....
    http://www.theindianalawyer.com/new-...e/29230?page=2 While there are many other talking points to hone in on- this one reminds me that thinking things ALL the way through is important. ... the shin bone is connected to the knee bone and the knee bone is connected .... Quote: Built in 1982, the Michael A. Carroll Track & Soccer Stadium at IUPUI once held some of the world’s biggest meets, including the 1988 Olympic Trials. But over the last decade, big-time events there have been infrequent. The last one was the 2007 USATF national championships. IUPUI recently installed a $1.2 million artificial all-season surface on the track’s infield, but sources close to the sport said the facility needs another $1 million to $2 million in improvements. “Certainly, getting events into the IUPUI track is on [ISC’s] agenda,” said Melangton, who will replace retiring ISC President Susan Williams. “We want to keep the track in play for national and international events.” Psst.... unless the extra one to two million bucks is to rip up the recently installed 1.2 million dollar artificial all-season surface on the track’s infield and lay turf this is not a very good sign. In allweather infield stadiums the throws must be relegated to another site-- In my opinion this is not a plus Mr. CEO. __________________
  • Max should learn to return calls
    Since May, there have been influential people attempting to contact Max however after 3 months of trying, those call have yet to be returned.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

ADVERTISEMENT