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Sports

Is there a need for a PBA CEO?

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

With Chito Salud’s resignation as PBA President/CEO effective at the end of the year, the league’s Board of Governors is now wondering if there is a need to fill the position. Is the position relevant? In the NBA, Adam Silver rules as Commissioner but isn’t he the de facto President/CEO?

It is essential that before even discussing the need for a President/CEO, there must be a clear understanding of a vision or direction that will determine the league’s organizational structure. This will involve a consensus from the Board. This direction will give rise to a strategic platform of execution within a time frame (short term of 1-3 years, medium term of 3-5 years and long term of 5-10 years).

The vision could include expansion, overseas extension and a broadening influence on lifestyle as a socially responsible organization with a self-sustaining ability. The platform of execution could include a grassroots development program (from the D-League down to the collegiate, high school and formative levels), a lifestyle/fitness program to cover a wide cross-section of the community at large, scheduling of conferences and seasons to align with international commitments (given the new FIBA competition cycles), formats for each conference (import height limits, Asian imports), drafts, D-League component, referees development, a communications strategy (TV, print, digital media) and a timetable for expansion. The platform will be set within a time frame of short, medium and long terms.

How the Board wants the PBA to evolve will determine the structure it requires.

From indications, it appears the league is moving towards a direction where a President/CEO is necessary to provide leadership and assume responsibility for the entire organization. The President/CEO’s role is distinct from the Commissioner who is in charge of overseeing on-court activities, including schedule of games, rule changes, enforcement of player conduct, standards and discipline and referees development.

In the NBA, the Commissioner is actually the President/CEO and the PBA Commissioner is actually the NBA’s Executive Vice President for Basketball Operations (who is former player Kiki Vandeweghe).  In the NBA, the different functions of the league are divided into separate departments such as Administration, Broadcast, Communications, Digital Media, Events, Finance, Global Marketing Partnerships, Global Media Distribution, Global Mercandising, Human Resources, Information Technology, Regional Offices, Legal, Marketing, NBA D-League, Production and Programming, Referee Operations, Security, Social Responsibility, Global Strategy, Team Marketing and WNBA.

There are overlaps but the NBA is tolerant to accommodate eight Executive Vice Presidents, 50 Senior Vice Presidents, two Presidents (one for Content and one for the D-League) and a CEO for NBA China. The executives all report to the Commissioner. Even as the NBA Commissioner is not the CEO by title, the NBA recognizes a Chief Operating Officer who is the Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum. The COO’s position establishes that the Commissioner is in effect, the CEO.

Because of his critical role in leading the PBA towards the direction set by the Board, the President/CEO must be a member of the PBA Board of Governors. Since the Commissioner reports to the President/CEO, it will be redundant for the Commissioner to be a member of the Board of Governors.

A possible PBA corporate structure will place the President/CEO on top of a hierarchy of officers, including the Commissioner. The functions of Administration, Finance, Events, Broadcast/Media Partnerships or Relations, Human Resources, Information Technology, Legal, Social Responsibility and Strategic Planning will be delegated to specific officers reporting to the President/CEO. The Commissioner will be involved strictly in basketball-related affairs as in the case of the NBA where the Executive Vice President for Basketball Operations is insulated from other functions of the organization. The PBA Commissioner cannot be the COO as the Commissioner’s role is distinctly basketball-related. Besides, the PBA is not yet large enough to accommodate a COO. Perhaps, within a medium-term time frame depending on the PBA’s growth, a COO may be required.

In the NBA, the Executive Vice President for Basketball Operations is not involved in referees development or the NBA D-League. However, in the PBA context, it would be reasonable for the Commissioner to be involved in referees development and the NBA D-League since the coverage is not as extensive as in the NBA.

The President/CEO will need an Assistant like former pro Bob Lanier, a Vice President, is to Silver in the NBA. The Assistant will ease the burden on the President/CEO with regard to monitoring the functions of the different departments.

As the PBA has evolved into an organization that has a major impact on the public, it is incumbent on the league to initiate social responsibility programs (in the NBA, the social responsibility arm is called NBA Cares). An officer should be designated to be in charge of Events to include high-visibility social responsibility programs.

In the PBA Board, the Chairman’s role should be ministerial. It is a position that is filled year by year so there is no guarantee of continuity. A Chairman, therefore, should not initiate policy. It is the President/CEO who should initiate policy and seek approval for his initiatives from the Board. The Chairman is expected to preside over Board meetings and may form committees within the Board to look into specific issues of league importance. It’s possible that the Chairman may suggest a “theme” for his term but it must be in keeping with the league’s vision and direction. It is confusing for the Chairman to announce a new policy whenever he assumes the position.

 

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