To say that Deanna O’Toole wears many
hats as CBS Sports’ executive director of
business affairs is like saying the Super Bowl
has a fair amount of fans.
“I get my hands in a lot,” O’Toole says.
“Whether it’s working with our interactive
group, af! liate relations, standards and practices,
sales, or entertainment and news—no
two days are the same.”
The diversity of her purview—O’Toole
negotiates CBS Sports’ talent and production
deals; manages legal contracts with CBS
Sports’ partners, including the NFL, the
NCAA, PGA Tour and the U.S. Tennis Association;
and oversees rights issues, licensing
and clearances across all CBS divisions—has
occupied her at the helm of the department
since 1999. Her wide-ranging responsibilities
are also the most difficult aspect of leading
CBS Sports’ business affairs.
“It’s never dull. [CBS Sports chairman Sean
McManus] keeps giving me more and more opportunities,”
she says. “[And] when we’re heading
into the Super Bowl, the Final Four and the
Masters at the same time, it can be challenging to
juggle everything that needs to get done.”
While O’Toole was involved in athletics growing
up, working within the sports or entertainment
industry was not a career she sought. After
graduating with a degree in paralegal studies
from St. John’s University, she landed a job with
CBS as a paralegal before moving, somewhat
serendipitously, over to sports in 1996 as manager
of business affairs. After three years, she was
promoted to her current position.
O’Toole credits her loyalty and longevity at
CBS Sports to her coworkers, who are “like a
family,” she says. “We have fun working together.
We know our separate roles, but we
know our roles as a team.”
One of her proudest accomplishments with
CBS is her involvement with the NFL contract
negotiations; CBS Sports is currently gearing
up for its turn at airing the Super Bowl in February
2013. (Her other proudest accomplishment:
being a mother to her two young sons.)
“We’re close to full steam ahead with the
Super Bowl,” O’Toole says. “That’s one of the
most exciting things I get to do—work with
our great partner in the NFL.”
Even if she did not originally seek out
sports, O’Toole is mighty glad to have found
her home at the network, an arrangement that
has worked out very well all around.
“As it turns out,” the veteran CBS exec says,
“I stumbled into something that I really, really
love to do.”
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