Los Angeles, California – Wheels up at 8:00 AM from Midland-Odessa and back to Burbank. Stu and I went directly to his Getty office as soon as we arrived to meet again with George Conner and Max Gardner We were out of money and had a payroll due. Bob Ronstrom had done that he could back in Bristol, but Stu was not quite ready to write a check.
Solving the immediate crisis was critical to our employees and to JB. We had come to far to fail. Evey finally asked JB to advance the payroll and agreed to return all KS Sweet advances the following week. Crisis averted, but not without a lot of heartburn.
I called Dennis Cryder at the NCAA office to share the good news and to confirm our Monday meeting to continue contract discussions.
It had been quite a week: Tuesday in Cincinnati, Wednesday in Shawnee Mission, Thursday to Los Angeles and on to Midland-Odessa, back to Los Angeles on Friday and finally back to Hartford on Saturday. The roller-coaster of emotional highs and lows had never before been so dramatic, but we now had all the pieces in place.
Next up: More contract meetings with the NCAA in Shawnee Mission on Monday.
Los Angeles, California & Midland-Odessa, Texas – An early meeting with Stu Evey, George Conner and attorney Max Gardner didn’t last long. Stu announced that he and I were leaving for the Burbank airport for a noon flight on the Getty jet to Phoenix and then on to Midland-Odessa, Texas. He didn’t tell me that I was going to meet a Getty Board Member from Tulsa, Oklahoma (we picked him up in Phoenix).
The passenger list was short: Getty Chairman Harold Berg and his wife, Getty Senior Group Vice President John McCabe and his wife, Harold Stuart, the Board member we picked up along the way, Stu Evey and me. I didn’t know it until we left Phoenix, but we were headed to Texas where Harold Berg was attending the “Oil Hall of Fame.”
I never made the event because as we were registering, Stu came over to me and said, “Congratulations!” I was a bit startled and said, What?” He continued, “I said congratulations, you just got approved for your project.” I couldn’t wait to get on the phone and spread the good news to the troops in Connecticut and to JB.
I never saw Harold Stuart other than on the plane from Phoenix to Midland-Odessa, but whatever he wanted to know, he apparently discovered and gave his blessing to our project.
What a week and it wasn’t over!!!
Shawnee Mission, Kansas – What a great feeling walking into NCAA Headquarters today. The decision to move forward and have attorneys start drafting an agreement was almost anticlimactic. I was sitting in a contract meeting to acquire the most significant programming available and it was happening just nine months after being fired by the Whalers…and only four and a half months after om Hansen had told us that our idea could not be presented until the January 1980 NCAA Convention. Writing this today I still find it remarkable that all of the pieces came together so quickly – although at the time desperation made it all feel agonizingly slow.
Happy as I was to be sitting with attorneys for both sides actually talking contract language, more good news arrived about ninety minutes later. Walter’s assistant came in and told me I had a phone call waiting. The caller turned out to be George Conner and his message set the stage for the rest of the day. He said that Getty’s strategy committee had given the go-ahead for investing in our network. He asked if I could fly to Los Angeles after our meeting with the NCAA and then added, “Tentatively, I’d say congratulations are in order.” Wow!
As I returned to the meeting, Walter asked, “Good news?” JB was curious too. I filled them in on the conversation with George. Needless to say from that point forward the meeting proceeded with a vibrant new feeling of confidence on both sides.
I couldn’t wait for the meeting to end and get outside – jump n the air and click my heels. What a Valentine’s Day! Ninety minutes and a half continent apart, two “yeses” propelled us to new heights of happiness when less than 24 hours earlier JB didn’t even want to make the trip. Ours was definitely not a business for the faint-hearted.