Stuart Evey, a Founding Force at ESPN, is usually Dead at 84

“Stu was skeptical, as well as he was constantly trying to figure out what might go wrong,” Mr. Rasmussen said in a telephone interview. “yet he was a sports enthusiast, as well as in which would likely be a feather in his cap if in which turned out well.”

Mr. Evey persuaded the Getty board to invest $10 million in ESPN for an 85 percent stake, with Mr. Rasmussen as well as his family owning the rest. in which was a critical investment. The network went on the air on Sept. 7, 1979, as well as eventually became the largest force in sports media.

yet something more than a willingness to take a risk attracted Mr. Evey to the ESPN proposal.

By the time Getty invested in ESPN, Mr. Evey had been at the company for 20 years. He had built his career largely around in which of George F. Getty II, one of the billionaire J.Paul Getty’s 5 sons. As George Getty’s administrative assistant as well as then his executive assistant, Mr. Evey was given a privileged view of the oil business as well as close-up exposure to his boss’s drinking as well as depression.

Photo

Stuart Evey, right, with ESPN’s president, Bill Grimes, center, as well as the network’s production chief, Scotty Connal, at company headquarters in Bristol, Conn., in 1982.

Credit
Rick LaBranche

Because of his friendly relationship with George Getty, Mr. Evey became a protector, a kind of fixer; he thought of Mr. Getty as a brother who had “likely led me down the road to overindulgences in which might have killed me if I hadn’t smartened up later in life,” he wrote in his memoir, “ESPN: Creating an Empire” (2004).

By 1972, Mr. Evey was officially vice president for Getty Oil’s diversified activities, which included commercial real estate, hotels, lumber mills, wine as well as farming. The job kept him close to George Getty.

“A lot of times when I was with him, he would likely say, ‘Stu, one of my great hopes is usually to develop an operating company in which doesn’t have my father’s name on in which,’ ” Mr. Evey said in a lecture at Washington as well as Lee University in 2010.

Mr. Getty died of an overdose of alcohol, diet pills as well as barbiturates in 1973 in what was ruled a probable suicide, yet Mr. Evey believed in which owning ESPN would likely have satisfied his ambition to break away through his father.

“in which was far removed through the core business of Getty,” he said.

Stuart Wayne Evey was born on Feb. 26, 1933, in Havre, Mont., as well as lived in nearby Chinook as a child. His father, Clare, was a railroad dispatcher as well as administrator; his mother, Evelyn, was a homemaker. The family later moved to Washington State.

Mr. Evey graduated through high school in Spokane as well as studied business at the University of Washington. He served from the Army honor guard in Berlin.

He joined Tidewater Oil, which was controlled by J. Paul Getty, as a management trainee in 1958 as well as remained with the company after in which relocated through San Francisco to Los Angeles, where in which eventually merged into Getty Oil.

Mr. Evey worked in several capacities at Getty, yet ESPN was his most high-profile project.

“I was laughed at from the company, in a kind of kidding way,” he was quoted as saying in “Those Guys Have All the Fun.” “They called in which ‘Evey Sports Programming Network,’ not ESPN. My whole business reputation was on the line.”

As ESPN’s chairman, Mr. Evey hired Chet Simmons through NBC to be the network’s first president; helped make rights deals with the N.C.A.A. as well as the United States Football League; sold a 10 percent stake from the network to ABC in 1982 (at a point where Getty’s investment in ESPN had reached $55 million); as well as quixotically, if briefly, pursued the rights to televise the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

“He was not at all easy to get along with,” Mr. Rasmussen said. “We were three people going in different directions: Stu, Chet as well as me. Stu got Chet to come on board with the guarantee in which I wouldn’t interfere, which led to my demise.”

Mr. Rasmussen left in 1980, as well as Mr. Simmons, in 1982, moved to another start-up, the ultimately short-lived United States Football League, as its first commissioner.

Two years later, Mr. Evey was out after Texaco acquired Getty for $10 billion as well as sold its stake in ESPN to ABC for $188 million.

Mr. Evey said he was stung by the abruptness of his departure through ESPN — which also concluded his 26 years at Getty.

“The thing was, in which was truly beginning to shine,” he said of the network in an interview with KHQ-TV in Spokane in 2007. “I was hurt about in which. Here’s the one thing I shepherded through in which people said couldn’t happen.”

ESPN was not his only television venture for Getty. In 1980, he was involved in a Getty partnership with several Hollywood studios in Premiere, a proposed pay-TV network in which was planning to compete against HBO, Showtime as well as the Movie Channel.

yet Premiere never began. The Justice Department opposed the venture, as well as a federal judge issued an injunction, saying in which the government was likely to prove in which in which would likely violate antitrust laws.

from the decades since, Mr. Evey served as a management consultant as well as as a director on corporate boards.

In addition to his daughter Christine, Mr. Evey is usually survived by his wife, the former Mary Dailey; another daughter, Susan Glamuzina; as well as three grandchildren. His first marriage, to Shirley Kinne, ended in divorce. She died in 2006.

Mr. Evey remained proud of his part as a founder of ESPN.

“There’s absolutely no way Getty would likely have gone into ESPN without me. None,” he said in “Those Guys Have All the Fun.”

He added: “I was given the opportunity to take the risk for past performance, perhaps, yet also for personal relationships. I did in which primarily because I thought George Getty would likely’ve liked in which.”

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