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St. Pete of the executive suite

Beaudine is the top front office matchmaker in sports

Posted: Thursday June 14, 2007 3:14PM; Updated: Thursday June 14, 2007 8:04PM
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Bob Beaudine helped convince Scott Drew (above) to leave Valparaiso for the challenge of reviving Baylor's basketball program.
Bob Beaudine helped convince Scott Drew (above) to leave Valparaiso for the challenge of reviving Baylor's basketball program.

Nightclubs have bouncers, and heaven has St. Peter. Team owners and university presidents? They've got Bob Beaudine, the most influential man in sports you've never heard of.

As president of the nation's top sports executive recruiting firm -- Eastman & Beaudine -- the 52-year-old from Plano, Texas, recommends general managers, athletic directors and head coaches to scores of professional, Olympic and college teams. Among his placements: more than 50 NCAA head coaches and athletic directors, the first commissioner of the Arena Football League, and the presidents of U.S. Skiing and the U.S. Open of tennis. He lured Bryan Colangelo away from a job as GM and president of the successful Phoenix Suns to take the reigns of the struggling Toronto Raptors. He landed Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie his first head coaching job, and he convinced Scott Drew to leave a family legacy at Valparaiso and lead a bruised and battered Baylor basketball program.

Beaudine views his role as being more of matchmaker than a gatekeeper. The person he recommends must be as right for the job as the job is for the person. But before he could help others marry their passions to their professions, Beaudine first had to discover his own.

After graduating in 1977 from Southern Methodist University with a bachelor's degree in business administration and spending several years working as a sales representative for Carnation (now Nestle), Beaudine joined the executive search firm that was founded by his father, Frank. The younger Beaudine was a natural, but filling top-level searches started to seem staid. Unwittingly, though, these CEO searches put Beaudine, a life-long sports fan, in contact with the people who not only ran companies but also owned teams.

The sports business connection came full circle in 1992 when Major League Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent resigned. William Bartholomay, chairman emeritus of the Atlanta Braves, with whom Beaudine had worked in the business world, served on the committee to find Vincent's successor. Bartholomay suggested Beaudine to lead the search. Although Bud Selig was not Beaudine's find (he was considering candidates more along the lines of Colin Powell and George W. Bush), working on the committee plugged Beaudine into the sports world.

Fifteen years later, Beaudine says "I loooove my job. Before when I placed a CEO, I got a tour of the plant, but now I get tickets to an All-Star game."

He jets across the country and around the world to meet clients and candidates face-to-face. A meeting with Beaudine, though, is equal parts job interview and therapy session, with the headhunter helping his prospects find what's really important to them.

"He puts things in perspective for you," says Drew, recruited by Beaudine to rebuild a Baylor basketball program that was still reeling from the murder of Patrick Dennehy and numerous NCAA violations and fraud by former head coach Dave Bliss.

"He knows what your goals are and my goal was always to build a national power," says Drew.

For Beaudine, it's all about making sure that the needs of his clients match the wants of his candidates. If it's not good for the candidate," he said, "it's not good for my client."

But if it is, the St. Pete of executive suites will pull back the velvet rope and hand you the key.

Loose Change

As if you needed another reason not to lose your cell phone (aside from the embarrassment of sending out those mass emails asking everyone for their phone numbers... again), Major League Baseball Advanced Media in conjunction with Tickets.com and Mobiqa now beams tickets directly to your wireless phone. Fans who purchase online tickets to Washington Nationals, Oakland A's and Pittsburgh Pirates games have the option of receiving a barcode that is sent to their phones when they select a delivery option. Jim Alexander, director of ticket sales for the Pirates, says new technology officially called Tickets@Phone has been used by hundreds of fans without a glitch. While the new service doesn't have any projected cost savings, the benefit, he says, is that fans can now skip the will-call line and head straight for the gates... Plenty of research suggests that despite what team owners want you to believe when you vote for that tax increase to fund a new stadium, sports facilities do not spur new development. Now there seems to be a notable exception: Petco Park in San Diego. According to The Wall Street Journal, development in a 60-block radius of Petco, which was opened in 2004, has topped $1 billion because the Padres had an urban development plan in mind all along.