One of the longest serving commissioners in an American sports league is likely to be walking away at the end of the season.
Tim Finchem, who took over as PGA Tour commissioner on June 1, 1994, announced this week that he signed a contract extension through 2017, but that the extension is just a placeholder, and his tenure is likely to end following the season.
“The length of the contract really is just a placeholder in terms of giving me a little more time to do some of the projects I’m engaged in now and I want to bring those forward,” Finchem said. “I wouldn’t anticipate I’m going to stay that long.”
Speaking to reporters at the WGC-Dell Match Play, Finchem said that deputy commissioner Jay Monahan had taken over most of the day to day operations of the PGA Tour, including establishing relationships with sponsors, one of the most vital roles as commissioner.
Finchem is just the third PGA Tour commissioner in that organization's history, succeeding Deane Bemen, who held the post for 20 years. Finchem oversaw dramatic growth for the Tour, including the creation of the World Golf Championships, the addition of golf in the Olympics, the formation of several mini tours to supplement the PGA Tour, including PGA Tour Canada and PGA Tour China, and three huge broadcasting deals that saw a large amount of money enter the Tour. Finchem also was benefited by the rise of Tiger Woods and his popularity to the masses.
Finchem remains the president of the World Golf Foundation, an organization that helps build golf internationally as well as operate the World Golf Hall of Fame. Finchem has not announced any plans to step down from that position.
Finchem's retirement leaves NHL's Gary Bettman and the MLS's Don Garber as the only active sports commissioners in the United States that began their tenure in the 90's.
Finchem has already named his successor - Jay Monahan, the deputy commissioner. Monahan was named deputy commissioner in 2014. That post had remained vacant since Finchem was upgraded from deputy commissioner to commissioner in 1994.
Monahan has been with the PGA Tour since 2008. He was the director of The Players Championship, and was promoted to chief marketing officer shortly after. Monahan has been a critical part of Tour-sponsor relations since his promotion, and that makes his transition into the commissioners chair a relatively smooth one.
Prior to being hired in 2008, Monahan was executive vice president of Fenway Sports Group, and was heavily ingrained in the business operations of the Boston Red Sox. Monahan was set to rise the ranks of the Red Sox organization, which happened to be his childhood team, but a call from Finchem had him leaving his dream job.
“There’s only one thing I could leave the Red Sox for,” he said. “And that’s golf.”
By all accounts, Monahan is an incredibly likable guy who has all the business savvy needed to operate an organization as large as the PGA Tour.