Deputy Commissioner & President of MLS Business Ventures
A highly accomplished executive in the sports industry since 1980, Gary R. Stevenson is Major League Soccer’s Deputy Commissioner & President of MLS Business Ventures. He oversees the domestic and international commercial business of MLS which includes Soccer United Marketing (SUM), media and broadcasting, digital, club services, marketing, consumer products, special events and content creation and distribution.
Prior to coming to MLS in 2013, Stevenson was President of Pac-12 Enterprises, where he was the first employee and successfully launched a diversified and integrated media company, including the Pac-12 Networks, the Pac-12 Digital Network, and Pac-12 Properties. After just one year in existence and having televised and streamed 550 live events, the Pac-12 Networks were named as a finalist for the SportsBusiness Journal’s “Best in Sports Television” award in 2013.
In 1997, Stevenson founded and built OnSport, a highly successful sports and entertainment marketing and media rights consulting company which he sold to Wasserman Media Group in 2007. OnSport’s blue chip client list included MLS, American Express, Nationwide, Travelers, PGA TOUR, NBA, Big Ten and many others. OnSport was a major force in the sports world as the principal architect of the Wachovia Championship, the U.S. Tennis Association’s U.S. Open Series, and NASCAR’s Nationwide Series, among other initiatives.
Prior to founding OnSport, Stevenson was President of NBA Properties’ Marketing and Media Group, where he was responsible for revenues related to the NBA, USA Basketball and the Basketball Hall of Fame. In this capacity, Stevenson also was a chief architect of the business plan and launch of the Women’s National Basketball Association in 1996.
Stevenson was the President and Chief Operating Officer during the much heralded and highly successful launch of The Golf Channel. In advance of the launch, he forged partnership agreements with the most important sanctioning bodies in golf including the PGA TOUR, PGA of America, United States Golf Association, European PGA TOUR, LPGA and with key corporate brands including General Motors, Titleist and Anheuser-Busch.
From 1987 to 1994, Stevenson propelled growth and innovation at the PGA TOUR as executive vice president of business affairs, where he was responsible for all television and marketing initiatives, including the creation of the TOUR Championship, the Presidents Cup, the Champions TOUR and what is known as the Web.com TOUR today.
Stevenson’s career in sports marketing began in 1980 when he joined the pioneering sports management firm ProServ. He later moved to Advantage International where he served as vice president of marketing from 1983-87, managing the business strategies of many prominent athletes.
Civic engagement and community service are an important part of Stevenson’s life, and he has endowed a permanent scholarship in his hometown of Elyria, Ohio to honor his parents’ service to their community. His civic involvements have included serving on the board of directors for the National Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and on numerous advisory boards at Duke University. He is a retired member of the USGA Executive Committee and served on the President’s Council for the 2014 Men’s and Women’s United States Opens at Pinehurst.
Stevenson, who holds a B.A. from Duke University and an M.B.A. from The George Washington University, taught “The Business of Sport” at Duke University from 2000-2007 and was inducted into The George Washington University School of Business Sports Hall of Fame in April 2013.