This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Randy Rigby stood in front of a group of basketball executives during a Park City retreat and started his presentation with a photo.
It's a famous one. You've probably seen it. The ball in the air, less than 10 seconds remaining on the clock, agony etched on the faces in the crowd. Rigby zoomed in on his face in particular, sickened by the inevitability that the shot would go in and his team would lose in the NBA Finals.
The group laughed. You see, the player in the center of that photograph, Michael Jordan winner of six NBA titles, two at the expense of the Jazz had brought his front office to Park City because he wanted advice on how to successfully run a franchise.
And the person he wanted that advice from was Randy Rigby.
This week, Rigby announced his plans to retire after 30 years with the Jazz, 10 of them as the team's president, and the franchise is still in search of its first championship. But as he reflected on his tenure, Rigby said he will walk away satisfied with his work.
"It's been a remarkable ride," he said Friday, sitting in his office overlooking the Jazz's practice court. "I have been a little more introspective of everything the last few days and it's really been a great experience."
Rigby was raised on his family's farm in Farmington, working with beef cattle and hay bales, but early on found himself rooted in sport. His mother ran a women's athletics program in Davis County and Rigby's own room was covered with quotes and pictures of athletes he had clipped out of copies of Sports Illustrated. So while Rigby's professional path started in sales, it makes sense to him now that he found his way to the sports world eventually.
His college friend, former Jazz president Dave Checketts, offered him his first job with the franchise in 1986, overseeing national sales and broadcasting, and Rigby has seen tremendous growth during his tenure.
At the time he was hired, the Jazz had 18 full-time employees in their front office. The team owned two radio stations (one in Salt Lake and one in Las Vegas so that owner Sam Battistone could listen to games) and a deal to air 12 games on KSL. Rigby recalls negotiating the team's first cable deal and, worrying about the lack of viewership in the market, promoting a Jazz bingo game during timeouts and commercials to entice more people to watch.
Since then, the number of full-time employees has surpassed 125, the team has established affiliations with 16 radio stations to carry Jazz games and has a multi-million dollar cable deal to broadcast each of the club's 82 regular-season games.
Late Jazz owner Larry H. Miller promoted Rigby to team president in 2007, but not before letting him think for a moment he would be fired. Nine years later, Rigby considers himself fortunate to have had the opportunity, even as he considered some of the job's greater challenges.
There was the delicate transition between the late Jazz broadcasting legend "Hot Rod" Hundley and his successors. There was the uncertainty of each looming lockout and how to avoid cuts among team employees. There was that difficult night in 2011, when Rigby and other Jazz leaders sat in the team's locker room with its Hall of Fame coach.
"It was very strange for me to realize, I'm a farm boy from Farmington, Utah. Jerry Sloan is an idol of mine and a hero in so many ways," Rigby recalled. "I'm here doing all I can to my abilities to negotiate to this man to try to stay. To have those discussions and realize I'm in the middle of them was a real growing experience for me."
In recent years, Rigby has been instrumental in the hiring of general manager Dennis Lindsey and head coach Quin Snyder, as well as the purchase of the D-League Idaho Stampede and the return of summer league basketball to Salt Lake City.
Rigby's transition has been in the works for some time. At the end of the season, Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment president Steve Starks, a former Miller understudy, will take over the role of president. The changes comes at a time when the Jazz's basketball product appears to be one of the league's up-and-comers.
"It's hard, but at the same time I've had the great privilege of enjoying that and being a part of that for 30 years," said Rigby, who will be an adviser to the organization in retirement. "It would be selfish of me to think I have to be front and center. I'm at peace with myself and I've had great advice and support from my wife that the time is right to support other people, to still play a role but to hand the torch to others with the energy and commitment to continue that."
He added, "I'm extremely happy with where this is all going. We're going to build a championship-caliber team and I'm very confident that we're still on that course."
• President of the Utah Jazz for the past nine years announced this week that he would retire at the end of this season.
• Was hired by the Jazz in 1986 and has worked as the president and chief operating officer of Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment as well as the general manager of KJZZ-TV.
• The BYU grad and his wife of 37 years, Sandra, have one son, four daughters and 12 grandchildren.
Jazz at Blazers
P At Moda Center (Portland, Ore.)
Tipoff • Sunday, 7 p.m. MT
TV • ROOT
Radio • 1280 AM, 97.5 FM
About the Jazz • Shook off a disappointing effort in D.C. and a cross-country flight back home Thursday night in their dominating victory over the Boston Celtics on Friday. … Facing an important two games next against Portland and Houston, the two teams directly ahead of them in the standings. … Newly acquired point guard Shelvin Mack could make his first appearance for the Jazz.
About the Blazers • At 28-27, they sit in seventh place in the West. … Former Weber State star Damian Lillard just scored 51 points to help his team beat the first-place Warriors on Friday night. … Lillard's backcourt mate, C.J. McCollum, is a leading candidate to win Most Improved Player honors.