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. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

ADVERTISEMENT