More executives quit LPGA
Three top executives resigned from the LPGA Tour this week for undisclosed reasons, bringing to seven the number of high-ranking employees to leave the tour since Carolyn Bivens took over as commissioner last September.
The LPGA accepted resignations from Deb Richard, senior vice president of golf; Julie Tyson, vice president of partnerships; and Liz Ausman, chief strategic officer.
Asked why she resigned, Richard paused and said, "I've lost faith in the leadership."
Bivens has said that turnover should be expected when there is a change in leadership, but two of the executives who were the latest to resign -- Ausman and Richard -- were hired by Bivens. Also peculiar was that they chose the week of a major, the LPGA Championship, to announce they were leaving.
"It's a sad thing for me to go through. I've devoted more than half my life to the LPGA," said Richard, who played nearly 20 years and won five times. "I feel uniquely connected on all levels, and I truly believe there's no greater sports property."
Tyson did not return a call seeking comment, and Ausman could not be reached.
"As women's golf continues to grow and the popularity of the LPGA skyrockets, our organization will continue to evolve," Bivens said in a statement. "We wish Liz, Deb and Julie success in their future endeavors."
Rae Evans, chair of the LPGA board, said she was not the least bit alarmed by three resignations in one day, and seven resignations over the last eight months. Others who have left the LPGA were Kathy Milthorpe, chief financial officer; Barb Trammell, senior vice president of tournament operations; Rob Neal, vice president of tournament business affairs; and Karen Durkin, chief marketing officer.
"Business is business. People come, people go," Evans said. "I haven't seen anybody at headquarters with Kleenex boxes."
Evans was at the LPGA Championship on Friday, juggling time on the LPGA board, her job as a Washington lobbyist and as the mother of one of three Duke lacrosse players -- David Evans -- charged with rape at a team party.
She was bullish about the outlook of the LPGA Tour, saying companies have talked to her about getting involved in women's golf and that "there's only good news in the weeks and months to come."
Bivens has emphasized building the LPGA brand, although the tour has suffered a couple of setbacks with the media.
In February, news organizations boycotted the first round of the Field Opens in Hawaii, where Michelle Wie made her 2006 debut on the LPGA Tour, because of media regulations over who owns the rights to news photographs taken at tournaments. The LPGA eventually amended its regulation.
It also lost network coverage of a major when the LPGA Championship, angry about being asked to move up starting times in the final round starting in 2007, left CBS Sports for The Golf Channel.
"The knee-jerk reaction is we left a network for The Golf Channel," Evans said. "It's too early to tell. I probably view networks, because of the audience delivery, as the place to be. But a lot of smart people have invested in The Golf Channel. We'll see where it leads."
June 13, 2006