April 9, 2009: The Association of Volleyball Professionals said that Leonard Armato, chairman, CEO and commissioner, has resigned his posts but will become a special advisor to the Tour. Jason Hodell, who became AVP's COO and CFO last September, will become the new CEO. The shake-up gives the AVP, usually associated with Southern California beaches, a decidedly New England flavor. Paul Tedeschi, a graduate of Boston University's College of Communications who co-founded and was CEO of New York-based youth marketing agency Mr. Youth, has been named CMO. New board members include Sam Kennedy, evp-sales and marketing for Boston-based Fenway Sports Group and CMO for the Boston Red Sox; and Bob Potter, CEO of Bombo Sports & Entertainment, a New York-based company that has done documentaries about the Red Sox. Armato, a former agent to such legendary players as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal and Ronnie Lott, acquired the struggling volleyball circuit in 2001 and turned its core 18-35 demographics into a marketing mecca for such sponsors as Anheuser-Busch (Bud Light), Pepsi (Gatorade), McDonald's, Hilton, Nautica, Wilson and title sponsor Crocs. He also helped make marketing stars of such players as Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, who won gold medals during the 2008 Olympics, which were seen on high-rated telecasts in prime time on NBC. "We look forward to Leonard's ongoing counsel and his input will be helpful," Nick Lewin, managing member of RJSM Partners, part of the Tour's ownership group, said in a statement. "We made our investment in the AVP last fall because we knew this was a growing sport with great potential. With AVP's expanded management team, we are now in a position to take pro beach volleyball to even greater heights for our athletes, fans and sponsors." RJSM said it would commit additional and substantial financing to the AVP.
NYSportsJournalism.com Q&A with Leonard Armato from February 2009