America's Cup drama starts early – Schiller step down immediate

Associated Press has reported that Harvey Schiller, a former executive director of the U.S. Olympic Committee, is stepping down as commercial commissioner of the America's Cup.

Will Chignell, the chief marketing and communications officer with the America's Cup Event Authority (ACEA), said Monday that it was Schiller's decision to leave.

Schiller has held the position for two years. He didn't immediately respond to calls or an email from The Associated Press seeking comment Monday. Nor did America's Cup boss Russell Coutts respond to an Associated Press e-mail seeking comment.

Schiller's last day will be Aug. 31.

It's not known if Schiller's departure is related to a case Emirates Team New Zealand brought against ACEA before an arbitration panel.

It's believed that the arbitration panel recently heard the case brought by the Kiwis after the ACEA pulled a qualifying regatta that had been planned for Auckland next year. In March 2015, Schiller notified Team New Zealand that it was losing the qualifier in part because it had supported another syndicate in a dispute over Coutts' plan to downsize the boats that will be used in the 2017 America's Cup in Bermuda.

Schiller was hired to supervise, manage and protect the commercial interests of the America's Cup. Among his duties was to secure international broadcast agreements. Under his watch, some traditional sponsors, such as Louis Vuitton, returned after being turned off by the 2013 regatta.

Schiller formerly served as commissioner of the SEC, president of Turner Sports, chairman and CEO of YankeeNets and president of the International Baseball Federation.

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