UPDATE: Simon, Morris to split Walsh's duties

April 16, 2008

Herb Simon is now both owner and CEO of Pacers Sports & Entertainment, the parent organization of the Indiana Pacers.

The 73-year-old real estate magnate announced at a news conference today that he'll become more involved in the teams operations, taking over some of the duties held by Donnie Walsh following his resignation from the team on March 24.

Simon, who co-owns the team with his brother Melvin, also said the Simon family would continue to own the Pacers "for a long time to come."

Jim Morris, who has held a series of high-profile positions in Indianapolis and the United Nations, now is president of Pacers Sports & Entertainment. Morris will oversee business operations for the Indiana Pacers, Indiana Fever and Conseco Fieldhouse.

"I'm getting energized myself over this. I'm getting excited," said Simon, who also will hold the title of chairman. "I should have done this a long time ago."

The Simon brothers acquired the Pacers in 1983 for $11 million. Herb and Mel, who is 81, became billionaires by developing shopping malls nationwide.

When asked whether the leadership changes alter the Simons' plans about owning the Pacers organization, Herb Simon said, "I don't think this is the forum to be talking about my estate planning. It's been in the family for 25 years, and I expect it to be in the family for a long time to come."

Larry Bird will continue in his position as president of basketball operations. And Pacers Sports & Entertainment Executive Vice President Rick Fuson will be chief operating officer of the company.

The announcements follow Donnie Walsh's resignation as president and CEO on March 24. Walsh joined the New York Knicks as president of basketball operations on April 2.

Morris was retained by the Pacers in June last year after game attendance fell following a brawl with fans in Detroit and a string of off-court incidents involving players getting in trouble with the law.

Morris has served as special counsel to the team since last summer, after he returned from four years heading the United Nations World Food Programme.

At the news conference, Morris said his attitudes about the Pacers job are similar to his feelings about leading the food program.

As he wrapped up his time at the UN, Morris said, "The blessings were all mine. And I feel the same about this [new job]." He added that the Pacers represent a "very special opportunity to build community."

Morris previously led Indianapolis Water Co. parent IWC Resources Corp., Lilly Endowment and was an Indiana University trustee.

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