When a company executive says they are stepping down from their post to spend more time with their family, it’s usually a euphemism for “I’ve been fired.”
But when Chivas USA announced late Tuesday afternoon that President and CEO Shawn Hunter, right, was stepping down from the position he has occupied for the past three years with the goal of spending more time with wife, Deidre, and their two sons, Dillon and Daulton, that really was the reason he had decided to leave, club sources said.
Significantly though, the club did not describe his departure in those terms – perhaps that double meaning is all too well known.
But when Hunter took the job after leaving Galaxy-owner Anschutz Entertainment Group he had just built a home in Colorado and was transitioning to living there.
The idea was he would shuttle on Mondays and Fridays between home and Southern California. In reality, weekend games and other committments meant Hunter sometimes went two or three weeks without seeing his wife and kids.
Hunter will continue in an advisory capacity – he is the main architect of Chivas USA’s sponsorship, broadcasting, and community outreach – but you can bet he won’t be doing a lot of that advising in person.
“The Chivas USA ownership gave me tremendous support, and I am proud of our accomplishments over the past three years,” Hunter said. “The Chivas brand is one of the most powerful in the world of soccer and I am excited to continue assisting the club. I also want to thank the passionate Chivas USA fans, who are among the best in all MLS.”
Hunter, if I recall correctly, was given a small ownership stake in the club when he joined the franchise. What will become of that now is unclear.
“We were very happy when Shawn agreed to join Chivas USA in 2007, and he has done great things for our organization ever since,” said Chivas USA Investor-Operator Antonio Cu. “His hard work and dedication to this club has helped us develop and grow in many different ways, and we’re glad that he will continue to assist us moving forward.”
From the Chivas USA press release:
Under Hunter’s leadership, the club became one of the first in league history to broadcast every match on television in both English and Spanish, attained a position as one of MLS’s top-sponsored teams, and also introduced a number of innovative grassroots initiatives including the Jerseys Off Our Backs program, the Chivas at the Park youth clinics with the City of Los Angeles, and Chivas USA’s Practice in the Community Series.
But he never quite attained the success he saw at, for instance, the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche, which both saw significant attendance increases during his tenure at the franchises, although, to be fair the Great Recession wasn’t on at the time either.
Incidentally, Stephen Hamilton, vice president of soccer operations, will begin interviewing candidates for the vacant coaching position this week, I was told.
That coach will become Chivas USA’s fifth coach in six years, replacing the fired Martin Vasquez, the first-year Mexican-American coach who led Chivas USA to six losses in its last seven games.