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David “Doc” O’Connor has abruptly quit the Madison Square Garden Co. after just two years as president and CEO of the company that owns the iconic namesake sports arena, along with the New York Knicks NBA team, New York Rangers NHL team and several other assets.
O’Connor was replaced on an interim basis by executive chairman James Dolan, the company said Monday without offering any reasons for the sudden change in leadership.
O’Connor is best known in Hollywood as one of the primary managing directors who took control of CAA after founder Michael Ovitz left the agency to become president of the Walt Disney Co.
The controlling Dolan family split MSG from MSG Networks more than two years ago, and in July 2015 hired O’Connor to run MSG, given his relationships with artists and the company’s focus on live sports and entertainment.
The hiring of O’Connor appeared to be working, with the stock climbing 44 percent since MSG was spun from MSG Networks. During his tenure, O’Connor signed entertainers like Jerry Seinfeld and Billy Joel to residency gigs at some of MSG’s theaters. On Monday, though, the stock was off more than 2 percent as news spread of the executive’s abrupt departure.
Bloomberg on Monday reported that O’Connor could be owed $47.6 million, according to terms of a separation agreement, unless he was terminated for cause.
“The Madison Square Garden Co. today announced that David O’Connor has stepped down as president and CEO, effective immediately. James Dolan, executive chairman, has assumed the additional role of interim CEO,” reads a company statement in its entirety.
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