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Executive Spotlight: Doug Logan

TeamWork Online

Former Commissioner, Major League Soccer

To paraphrase a song in Irving Berlin's "A White Christmas", "What is a Commissioner when he stops being a Commissioner?"

Have you ever stopped to think there is not a current day Commissioner of a sports league - or some individual sports like golf or tennis - who, upon leaving his Commissioner post, has held another meaningful leadership role in sports? John Ziegler, Jr., once head of the National Hockey League, moved back into a private law practice. Bowie Kuhn, former Commissioner of Major League Baseball, did the same. Peter Ueberroth, once Time Magazine's "Man of the Year" moved back to Los Angeles and other than his equity interest in Pebble Beach hasn't resurfaced publicly in sports since serving as Commissioner of Major League Baseball. Dean Beeman, the man who brought the PGA Tour to the forefront, has all but disappeared from the sports pages, as too Charlie Meacham, former Commissioner of the LPGA.

Why is there "no life" after serving as a sport's Commissioner? "What is a Commissioner when he stops being a Commissioner?" You strive your entire career to reach the pinnacle of your industry by serving as a sport's Commissioner, and when your term is over; it's over?

I asked one of the more recent "former Commissioners" of a major sports league - Major League Soccer - Doug Logan that had he known there would be no other meaningful role in the sports business AFTER serving as Commissioner, would he still have taken the job?

"Oh, absolutely," he answered swiftly. "I think there is a substance of a job and its trappings. Unfortunately when you get the title of Commissioner and the trappings that come along with it, people are wary about considering you for another job. I would dream as a young kid to be a Commissioner of a sport. To be afforded the opportunity I had gave me great joy in my life."

Logan wasn't even supposed to be Commissioner. No, Alan Rothenberg, Chairman and CEO of the World Cup 1994 and president of U.S. Soccer announced the formation of Major League Soccer, a single-entity league and his leadership over it on December 17, 1993. Four-color, tabbed, spiral bound books were printed announcing the fact. The league was to commence play by April of 1995. But as the league couldn't hit its projected launch, the search for the league's Commissioner took place in the summer of 1995 and play was set back to begin this time in April 1996.

So, on October 10, 1995, in a stuffy airport hotel conference room where many of the interviewees could hardly keep awake, Douglas G. Logan, the last of four candidates being interviewed, accepted the role of this sport's Commissioner, the U.S.'s first bi-lingual Commissioner.

Logan is credited with successfully launching the league and positioning the headquarters in New York in lieu of World Cup's Los Angeles base. He encouraged the prominent senior World Cup staff to join him such as Sunil Gulati, as Deputy Commissioner and former Executive Vice President and Chief International Officer for World Cup 1994; Mark Abbott, as COO, former corporate lawyer at Latham & Watkins with Alan Rothenberg; and Randy Bernstein, as Executive Vice President and former Senior Vice President of Corporate Marketing for the 1994 World Cup. During Logan's reign, in December of 1998, MLS's DC United won the America's Cup Competition and champion club of North and South American by beating Vasco da Gama in a match in Miami. Other accomplishments included a new investor joined in 1998 to start up the Miami Fusion and MLS expanded to both Miami and Chicago, and the first soccer-only stadium, and "Stadium of the Year" was built in Columbus, Ohio. The Los Angeles Galaxy is now planning to build its own soccer-only stadium.

On September 1, 1999, Doug Logan's reign as this sport's Commissioner ended with the announcement of Don Garber, formerly Managing Director NFL International, as his successor. And as Don, over 10 years younger than Logan, bathed in the excitement and achievement of having reached a pinnacle role in any sports marketer's career, did it ever cross his mind as he accepted this role, "What is a Commissioner when he stops being a Commissioner?"

Buffy G. Filippell founded TeamWork Consulting, Inc., an executive search firm for the sports and event management industry in September of 1987. The firm's more than 120 clients have included: NASCAR, PGA TOUR, NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, International Speedway Corporation, Major League Soccer, Olympic Governing Bodies, corporate sponsors, and sports marketing agencies. Learn more at

All TeamWork Online content copyright © 2008 Buffy Filippell, President, TeamWork Online LLC.

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