Ruthless Accountability: What the Business of Sports Can Teach SVB

Steve Feuerstein
4 min readMar 15, 2023

March 15, 2023 (New York, New York): Patrick Ewing had what it takes. Arguably one of the greatest college basketball players of all time at Georgetown University, the dominant New York Knicks center (1985–2000) went on to succeed legendary John Thompson as head coach of the Hoyas.

That stage of his celebrated life has now come to an end as Georgetown president President John J. DeGioia announced on March 9th that the school was entering a new chapter seeking a new leader to serve at the helm of its storied program. After an unGeorgetown-like 7-win, 25-loss record this year, Ewing was fired.

He’s in fine company. Another legendary coach, responsible for securing 35 of the school’s 41 NCAA tournament appearances, was ousted after 47 seasons with Syracuse. Jim Boeheim has seen it all. But on March 8th just hours after the Orange were bested by Wake Forest in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, a hotly contested 77–74 defeat, the powers that be at Syracuse declared that the near half-century of Boeheim stewardship had ended.

He’s in fine company as well. Another 20 high-profile college basketball coaches found themselves in need of headhunters following disappointing results in their respective conferences.

Far more rigorous of a system holding talent to perform at an elite level is the one applied to athletes. Clemson’s DJ Uiagalelei, the pre-season Heisman candidate who inked an unprecedented seven figure NIL deal to endorse Dr. Pepper, found out the hard way that past credentials will only get you so far. Not only was he benched in his final regular season game by head coach Dabo Swinney but he suffered the indignity of having to secure home at Oregon State to proffer his wares. Brutal accountability. But it sends an explosive shot across the bow. No one is safe.

Lest one think that this is strictly reserved for the college realm, the pros are far more ruthless. Take Nathaniel Hackett of the Denver Broncos. Steering the Broncos for less than a season, he went 4–11, with zero playoff appearances. He’s in fine company. Just ask College Football Playoff National Championship coach Urban Meyer. His one-and-done demise as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars (2–11) in 2021 was a wake-up call. The list goes on and on. You’re only as good as your last winning season.

Mediocrity dulls the senses of billionaire pro team owners and collegiate team custodians alike. And it does so in all sports at all levels of the game. Immunity from unrealized and unfulfilled expectations of excellence is a non-starter in sport. A quarterback who keeps throwing multiple interceptions game-in game-out is going to be benched. No two ways about it. On the positive side, such proactive intervention ensures that the team still has a shot at redemption.

On the flip side, segments in corporate America appear to have been empowered to operate with a carte blanche license to fail. In fact, aiding and abetting the Too Big To Fail mentality will only yield bigger and more prominent failures. Big boys with big toys who play with other people’s cash continue to make bona fide big mistakes, fully aware that there’s a high probability that Uncle Sam will clean up their mess.

In simple terms, the Federal government plays the role of drug dealer with the taxpayer playing the unwanted role of junkie. Yes, that’s what a bailout is.

Structural changes in the aftermath of The Great Recession were supposed to protect our financial system from the present carnage. SVB’s market cap was $16.7B just one week ago. It was $32B just one year ago. All that wealth is gone. Evaporated. No protection. All those shareholders have zero recourse. No bailout for the moms and pops of America who held, say, $15,000 in their retirement portfolio.

I get it. Shareholders are a different breed, a different class than depositors. There’s risk in everything. Yes, even banking. But risk of insolvency and bankruptcy of the 16th largest bank in America–no. And by the way, depositors understood risk too. The FDIC secures a max of $250,000 of each independent account. At least, that’s what its purview is in theory.

When all is said and done, there is something to be said about being under surgical scrutiny that fosters accountability. Perhaps it’s time to broadcast a new weekly show on Netflix just to keep the Federal Reserve and financial C-Suite in check. We can call it…The Banking Games.

Steve Feuerstein is a 30-year veteran of the sports marketing and sponsorship industry. A former rights owner of professional sports events, agent to athletes, and tri-state New York radio show host, Steve founded SportsBiz to develop 21st-Century solutions steeped in AI and machine learning previously unavailable to corporate sponsors.

SportsBiz develops dynamic software that serve sponsors of professional sports, collegiate sports, and eSports. The company has recently introduced a novel TV, Web, and Social Media valuation and recommendation solution. Additional soon-to-be-released solutions include Social Impact, Metaverse, BrandMatch, and Campaign Recommendation Engine. Learn more at SportsBiz.com.

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Steve Feuerstein

Steve Feuerstein is a 30-year sports marketing industry veteran, a radio show host, & founder of SportsBiz, a SaaS software platform for corporate sponsors.