Nealy tapped as Fiesta Bowl executive director

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- The Fiesta Bowl has hired former Phoenix Coyotes president and chief operating officer Mike Nealy as its executive director.

He replaces Robert Shelton, who resigned in January after spending more than two years trying to rebuild the bowl game in the wake of scandal.

Shelton took over after John Junker resigned for taking part in an illegal campaign contribution scheme that ended with an eight-month federal prison sentence for him.

Nealy, 48, spent eight years as the Coyotes' president and COO, leading the franchise during a difficult four-year stretch without an owner.

He also worked as an executive with the Minnesota Wild for four years prior to joining the Coyotes.

Agreeing to a three-year contract that puts him in office immediately, Nealy will oversee the community-based Fiesta Bowl organization, which operates the Tostitos® Fiesta Bowl, Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and numerous ancillary events.

"Mike has a proven track record of strong leadership and business success," Andy McCain, Fiesta Bowl Chairman of the Board, said in a news release. "His extensive experience in sports marketing and professional development make him an ideal fit to lead our organization into the new era of college football."

"The Fiesta Bowl is a great source of pride for Arizonans and I am excited about the opportunity to lead this wonderful organization," Nealy said. "I look forward to helping the Fiesta Bowl evolve and reach new heights as it transitions into the first year of the College Football Playoff."

Nealy has been active in the community for years, including a two-year term as an Honorary Commander at Luke Air Force Base (2006-2008) and a subsequent position on the board of the Fighter Country Partnership.