There was a big shakeup at ABC Sports Monday.
Division president Howard Katz is out and George Bodenheimer, president of
ESPN, will now oversee ABC Sports, as well as the cable network.
The management structure is similar to the one put in place in the early
1990s, when Steve Bornstein, then head of ESPN, was put in charge of both
At the time, Dennis Swanson, then president of ABC Sports, resigned.
A press release issued Monday indicated that Katz resigned to
pursue other interests, which is often corporate speak for getting shoved out
the door without being technically fired.
But during a teleconference, Alex Wallau, president of ABC Television Network,
insisted that Katz wasn't pushed "in any way," and that Katz was the one who
brought up his desire to resign to pursue other interests.
Wallau said it was only after Katz brought up his desire to step down that
the company decided to revert back to the previous management structure with
Bodenheimer in charge.
Katz was not on the conference call.
A 10-year ABC Sports/ESPN veteran, Katz was named president of ABC Sports in
He's been in the business for 32 years, and he was previously president of
Ohlmeyer Communications Corp.
Bodenheimer has spent most of his career at ESPN, joining the network in 1982
initially as an affiliate sales representative. He was named president in 1998.
The network said ABC Sports and ESPN would continue to run as two separate
Bodenheimer will continue to report to The Walt Disney Co. president Bob Iger, while
coordinating with Wallau on ABC Sports activities.
In the release, Iger said the management restructuring would make both
operations more efficient, "particularly in our dealings with sports leagues and
other rights sellers."
No other management changes at ABC Sports are expected at the present time,
although Bodenheimer said he would be talking with executives "both inside and
outside of the company" to discuss the best operating structure going forward.
When Bornstein was promoted to oversee both networks, he hired general
managers to run the day-to-day operations of ABC Sports. Katz's resignation is
effective next week.