The Golden State Warriors have named Rick Welts as the team’s new President and Chief Operating Officer, it was announced this evening. Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Welts, 58, will oversee all business-related operations for the Warriors and will report directly to the organization’s Co-Managing Partners, Joe Lacob and Peter Guber. He joins the Warriors following a nine-year stint with the Phoenix Suns where he served the organization as President and Chief Executive Officer for the last two seasons. He resigned on September 9. During his tenure in Phoenix, the Suns enjoyed success on all levels, including on the court, where the club registered five (5) 50-plus win seasons and advanced to the Western Conference Finals in 2005, 2006 and 2010. Welts’ responsibilities in Phoenix included the supervision of all business operations for the Suns and overseeing the team’s interest in the management of US Airways Center and the WNBA Phoenix Mercury. The Mercury won the WNBA Championship in 2007 and 2009.
Welts, one of the most respected business executives in the NBA, has accumulated 36 years of experience in the league. He boasts an impressive and all-encompassing résumé that includes a myriad of different capacities spanning virtually every level of an NBA operation. His indoctrination into the NBA came in 1969 as a ball boy with the Seattle SuperSonics, and he had a successful 17-year stint as a high-ranking official at the NBA league office in New York. His recent tenure in Phoenix, which began in July of 2002 as President and Chief Operating Officer, caps his comprehensive NBA background.
“Peter Guber and I have made it quite clear since we assumed control of this team in November that we’re looking to build a world class organization from top to bottom,” said Lacob. “We feel that we’ve taken a quantum leap in that direction today with the addition of Rick Welts as our President and COO. Rick is simply one of the most highly-regarded executives in the NBA and his accomplishments at both the team and league levels are extremely impressive. He’s been an integral part of every organization that he’s worked for in the NBA, including the league office in New York, where he earned the respect and admiration of David Stern, as well as with the SuperSonics in Seattle and the Suns in Phoenix. His track record in all facets of the business – sponsorship, marketing, public relations, event management, team services, merchandising – and his ability to be strategically creative and cutting-edge make him the ideal candidate to lead our organization. Quite honestly, I’m convinced that we could not have found a better candidate for the job.”
Prior to joining the Suns, Welts spent almost two decades (1982-1999) with the NBA league office prior to departing as the Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer and President of NBA Properties. In addition to his overall contributions in the revitalization of the league’s image and popularity, his notable accomplishments at the NBA include the creation of NBA All-Star Weekend in 1984 – a model that subsequently became a fixture in both MLB and the NHL – along with the creation of a marketing program with USA Basketball for the 1992 Olympic “Dream Team.” Along with Val Ackerman, Welts was named “Marketer of the Year” by Brandweek in 1998 for his role in launching the WNBA. He was recipient of the annual Splaver/McHugh “Tribute to Excellence Award” in 2006. During his time at the NBA office, he received multiple promotions and supervised a wide-range of departments, including corporate sponsorship and media sales, consumer products, international business activities, media relations, community relations, team services, special events and creative services. Welts also played a prominent role in the organization of preseason games in foreign countries and the eventual opening of international NBA offices in Australia, Asia, Europe, Mexico and Canada.
“We feel extremely fortunate to add an individual as talented as Rick Welts to our organization,” said Guber. “He provides all of the intricate qualities that a company searches for in a President – leadership, respect, experience, creativity and, of course, passion. His NBA background has been established, in part, as the result of tremendous vision and the ability to implement new and intriguing ideas in all forms of the business. I can unequivocally say that our organization is much better today than it was yesterday with the addition of Rick Welts.”
“It’s hard to express how excited I am to embrace this opportunity and be part of a collective group in building the Warriors into a championship caliber organization,” said Welts. “I’ve been most impressed with Joe Lacob and Peter Guber’s vision and desire to do something great. Not good, but great. Many of the ingredients are here – the Warriors’ rich history, the team’s amazing fan support and the strength of the Bay Area as a sports market. We have a lot of work to do and I can’t wait to get started.”
A native of Seattle, Washington, Welts began his NBA career with the Seattle SuperSonics at the age of 16 in 1969 and spent 10 years with his hometown team. He served as Director of Public Relations for the Sonics during the team’s back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals in 1978 and 1979 (the SuperSonics captured their lone NBA Championship in 1979). After leaving the SuperSonics, he spent the following three years (1980-1982) at Bob Walsh & Associates, a sports marketing firm in the Seattle area. His non-NBA résumé includes serving as President of Fox Sports Enterprises (1999-2000). Welts attended the University of Washington.