Steve Pearson, 30, is the second general manager of a Salt Lake City professional sports team to resign and take a position with a local university in the past 3 1/2 weeks, and the reasons are about the same: stability and opportunity.
When Marc Amicone left as general manager of the Golden Eagles last month to join the University of Utah's athletic department in a marketing capacity, it was because he could go no further in pro sports without leaving the state and because fortunes in pro sports fluctuate so wildly.Pearson, the only general manager the Salt Lake Trappers have ever had, resigned effective Wednesday to throw in with Weber State's new athletic director, Mike Price, in the newly created position of Director of External Affairs for the Weber State College athletic department. He did it because it's a challenge and because he, too, didn't see opportunity to advance in pro sports without leaving Utah.
Pearson helped increase the Trappers' attendance by 198 percent and revenues by 179 percent in the three-plus years he presided, and he watched while the team won three straight Pioneer League championships and set professional baseball records for a 29-game win streak and for short-season attendance - 171,134. In 12 games this season, they're averaging more than 6,000.
"I feel real good about that," Pearson said of the Trappers' success, "but here's another opportunity to do some good and maybe create the same kind of success in the Ogden area.
"It's a chance at another area to expand my skills and my experience base that could open more doors for me in the long run," Pearson said.
"I have very mixed emotions about leaving the Trappers. We've worked hard to establish a credible and successful operation. I feel strongly a solid foundation has been set."
But, Pearson reasons, "The situation in pro sports is you don't know year after year what's going to happen to the Trappers.
"I can move on to another minor-league job or maybe a major-league job, but I'm not all that excited about leaving Utah, and I have a wife and family," Pearson reasoned. His wife is Judy, and they have a 5-week-old daughter, Emalee Sarah.
Pearson said his new position will include all athletic-department marketing, promotions and fund-raising duties. He'll oversee the sports information department and work on radio and television broadcasting contracts.
Price, whose major task as Weber AD is to shore up financial problems partly created by a lagging basketball record and an unpopular season-ticket policy last year, said he talked to advertising and media people to find a good candidate. "One executive in a top public relations firm said, `Pearson is the best in the state, but you'll never get him,' but that's the type of challenge I like," Price said.
When Price called Pearson on July 7 to propose the new job to him, "I was very surprised," Pearson said. "I answered the phone one day, and by the following Monday, I was offered the job." He starts Aug. 1.
Pearson, a Salt Lake City native and University of Utah graduate, spent two seasons as marketing and promotions manager for the Salt Lake Gulls. He was a sales representative for Litton Industries, Houston, and the Utah Jazz.
The Trappers will announce their plans for a new general manager Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Derks Field.