What do Sandy Alderson, GM of the New York Mets and John Idzik, GM of the New York Jets have in common? They are both graduates of Dartmouth College who inherited New York sports teams in turnaround mode.
One of the country's oldest and most respected academic institutions, Dartmouth produces a long list of successful graduates, and according to Payscale.com, ranks among the top academic institutions in first-year and mid-career earnings. The Ivy League school's alumni include many executives who have excelled in sports, including:
- Jimmie Lee Solomon (class of '78), former Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations of the MLB, who was instrumental in launching the popular Futures Game, which annually showcases baseball’s rising stars. Solomon also managed the development of MLB’s Urban Youth Academies and was influential in the creation of the annual Civil Rights Game.
- Russ Granik (class of '69), former Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer of the NBA, who was influential in the 1989 FIBA rule change, which allowed professionals to compete in the Olympics, making the "1992 Dream Team" possible. Granik was also involved in the negotiation of the NBA's collective bargaining agreements and TV contracts.
- Robert DuPuy (class of '68), former President and Chief Operating Officer of the MLB, who helped resolve a $280 million collusion settlement for the MLB Players Union against baseball's owners in 1990.
Sandy Alderson (class of ’69) and John Idzik (class of ’82) currently steer organizations seeking to once again become post-season contenders but facing financial constraints. Both GMs are in the uncommon, but not unique, situation of sharing their local market with a rival in the same league that has recently won titles. New York, a media center and a city where people don't like to wait for anything, puts added pressure on sports franchises.
Alderson took over as Mets GM following the 2010 season. The team last reached the World Series in 2000 and has not captured a championship since 1986. Meanwhile, the cross-town Yankees have brought five titles home to the Bronx, adding to the anxiety of the Mets fan base.
Since he arrived, the Mets GM has made several key moves to shed underperforming contracts and reduce the team’s payroll from fifth highest in 2010 to 14th highest in 2012. Gone are Carlos Beltran, Francisco Rodriguez, and Jason Bay (although the team is still due to pay a significant chunk of his remaining salary). The team has replaced them and developed young prospects. In a blockbuster move, Alderson then traded 38-year-old Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey to get peak value from Toronto in return.
Meanwhile, the GM has set the team up with a number of cornerstone players like David Wright and Ike Davis, and is building a future including the top ranked catching prospect in baseball, Travis d’Arnaud, and Top 10 pitching prospect Zack Wheeler. It hasn't been easy, but there is light at the end of the tunnel for the Flushing faithful.
Former Seahawks Vice President of Football Administration John Idzik takes over a New York Jets team in transition after two disappointing seasons. Among his top priorities will be getting out from under a salary cap that is currently $19.4 million over the 2013 cap level. Idzik, who earned his degree in Mathematics at Dartmouth, has a record of success rebuilding the fortunes of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks. His responsibilities with the Jets will include player contract negotiations, salary cap compliance, and player personnel transactions.
Alderson and Idzik are both talented and experienced, and know how to infuse a winning culture in their respective franchises. These Dartmouth graduates exemplify the fulfillment of the school's mission "to educate the most promising students and prepare them for a lifetime of learning and of responsible leadership." The Ivy League school certainly sets and maintains high standards as it continues to produce a number of the nation’s top executives.