Trio of leaders tackles new role at Sports Corp.: Long-timers tapped to mentor young board members

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Three of the Indiana Sports Corp.’s highest-profile board members are stepping down, but that doesn’t mean they won’t continue to be involved in the organization.

ISC President Susan Williams is tapping them to mentor the organization’s next generation of leaders. On Sept. 24, at the ISC’s annual meeting at Tech High School, George McGinnis, Michael Browning and Jack Swarbrick will be named ISC life members.

They are just the second group of ISC life members named, and the first in six years. ISC’s founding president, Sandy Knapp, and former ISC board chairman Jim Morris, who is currently president of Pacers Sports & Entertainment, were named life members in 2002.

“This is about handing over the torch without losing their wisdom, talent and skills,” Williams said. “We’re not losing these guys, we’re promoting them.”

During strategy meetings last year, Williams said the ISC’s aging leadership was an issue that was identified as needing to be addressed.

“We have leaders in this organization who have knowledge and experience that isn’t easily replicated,” said Tom King, ISC board chairman. “We’re making this move to protect and preserve the Indiana Sports Corp.’s mission.”

King thinks McGinnis, Browning and Swarbrick are ideal candidates to mentor the organization’s next generation of leaders.

“They understand the importance of institutional knowledge, but also understand the importance of making room for new people and new ideas,” King said.

Williams acknowledges that with the addition of several new, young board members recently, the 29-year-old ISC is in a “transitional period.”

“One of these days, all of these [people] we rely on will pick up their golf clubs and retire,” Williams said. “We have to be prepared to continue the mission of this organization, which has been a strong driver in the development of this city.”

The Indiana Sports Corp. was founded in December 1979, and the not-for-profit organization has been involved in some of the biggest sports developments in the city’s history.

The ISC boasts that since its formation, it has helped attract and stage more than 400 national and international sporting events, with $3 billion in direct economic impact.

McGinnis, a former basketball player for Indiana University and the Indiana Pacers who is now president of locally based GM Supply Co., and Browning, president of Browning Investments Inc., were chosen to be life members because they are nearing their term limits with the ISC board.

Swarbrick, a local attorney who has been instrumental in countless sports initiatives in Indianapolis, and most recently helped lead the effort to land the 2012 Super Bowl, was named life member because he is moving to South Bend to become the University of Notre Dame athletic director. Swarbrick will still be active in ISC matters, but will not have the demands on him he had as a board member.

“Making these three men life members acknowledges their past contributions, but more importantly forges a lasting relationship with people who really care about the Indiana Sports Corp.’s mission,” said Knapp, who now resides in Austin, Texas.

Knapp has mentored her successors as ISC president, Dale Neuburger and Williams, and other full-time staff members. McGinnis, Browning and Swarbrick will focus their attention on board members who guide the organization’s broad governance.

The trio will work with young board members on such issues as volunteer recruitment and organization, fund raising, and event bidding and management.

In some ways, McGinnis thinks the trio’s role as life members could have even more impact on the organization’s long-term future than they did as board members.

“Real progress is built on the kind of experience people like Jack Swarbrick and Michael Browning have amassed,” said McGinnis. “By passing on what we’ve learned, we can ensure that this city remains one of the top sports capitals of the world.”

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