Armato resigns as AVP head

Leonard Armato, the AVP commissioner and the husband of three-time Olympian Holly McPeak, has resigned as the head of the pro beach volleyball tour.

Chief operating officer Jason Hodell will take over, the AVP was set to announce on Wednesday night. Armato will reman as a special adviser, according to the announcement, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

The management shakeup comes as the tour tries to capitalize on the buzz generated by the U.S. sweep of the Olympic gold medals in Beijing, where Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh won the women's tournament and Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser won the men's.

"For Phil and me, along with Misty and Kerri, to win golds in Beijing last year were big moments for the AVP," said Rogers, who teamed with Dalhausser to win the domestic tour's championship in 2007 and '08. "It's one of the most exciting times to be a pro volleyball player and I know everyone is extremely excited about the new leadership."

The former agent for basketball stars Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O'Neal and boxer Oscar de la Hoya, Armato acquired the AVP in 2001. What had been separate men's and women's tours with six events is now a unified circuit with 15 outdoor stops this year and 14 more over the winter in an indoor tour; prize money has quadrupled.

"I am thrilled with the progress we have made," Armato said. "Coming off the success of the 2008 Olympics in which we won men and women's gold medals, pro beach volleyball is now one of the hottest sports in the world."

Walsh said he will be missed.

"I will forever be grateful to Leonard Armato for his contributions to the growth of the sport of beach volleyball," she said. "With his tireless enthusiasm, Leonard has been an evangelist for our great sport bringing it to the masses and bringing to it many of our nation's best athletes. Leonard deserves to be recognized as a lead contributor to the advancement and betterment of our sport."

The AVP announced last year that Crocs had renewed its deal to serve as title sponsor for the AVP tour. Russell Athletic, Anheuser-Busch and John Paul Mitchell Systems have also extended their sponsorship agreements for three more years.

"It is an honor to work with the AVP, our athletes and our sponsors to continue the growth of our wonderful sport," Hodell said. "I'm sure I speak for the entire AVP when I say this is truly one of the most exciting times in the history of pro beach volleyball. I look forward to leading the Tour as we build on the momentum created under Leonard's leadership."

Also Wednesday, the tour announced that it received additional financing from RJSM Partners, part of the current ownership group.

In other moves, Paul Tedeschi has been selected the AVP's chief marketing officer. New members of the board of directors include Sam Kennedy, the chief marketing officer for the Boston Red Sox, and Bob Potter, CEO of Bombo Sports & Entertainment, a production company.