USA Pickleball, the national governing body for pickleball, named Mike Nealy as CEO, effective mid-June. Nealy replaces CEO Stu Upson, whose last day with the organization was May 31.
For eight years, Nealy was the executive director of the Arizona Sports Foundation, which operates the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl. After leaving the Fiesta Bowl in March 2022, Nealy was a consultant for sports-related businesses operating under Nealy Group, LLC.
“On behalf of our Board of Directors and over 74,000 members, I am thrilled to welcome a sports industry executive of Mike’s caliber and pedigree to the USA Pickleball team,” said USA Pickleball Board Chair Robert Quicksilver. “We have been impressed with Mike’s accomplishments and leadership, which have earned him widespread recognition and respect in the NHL and college football. At this pivotal time in our sport, which continues to grow at exponential rates, we are extremely confident that Mike is the right person to guide us, as the National Governing Body of pickleball, to the next level.”
Before heading the Arizona Sports Foundation and the Fiesta Bowl, Nealy spent eight years with the National Hockey League’s Phoenix Coyotes (now the Arizona Coyotes), serving for four years as president, chief operating officer and alternate Governor. In this role, Nealy was responsible for overseeing business operations for the Coyotes and Jobing.com Arena and, as alternate Governor, represented the organization at NHL Board of Governors meetings.