Blazers, Hutt call it quits
Former executive had a sometimes blustery seven-year tenure
Harry Hutt's oft-troubled, always-controversial tenure with the Trail Blazers is over.
The former senior vice president of marketing operations, who moved over to head Blazer owner Paul Allen's ill-fated cable television enterprises about 18 months ago, accepted a buyout about six weeks ago.
It was a quiet end to a sometimes stormy ride for Hutt, 60, whose bluster and aggressive manner alienated some customers and co-workers.
Hutt presided over two public relations disasters: the unceremonious removal of Bill Schonely as the team's radio voice in 1998 and the ejection of a fan who held up a 'Trade Whitsitt' sign in the Rose Garden during the 2001 NBA playoffs.
Hutt's contract was to expire June 30, but after meeting with President-General Manager Bob Whitsitt in January, 'we reached an agreement,' Hutt says. 'They bought out the balance of my contract so I could become a free agent and figure out what to do.'
'I have no regrets'
When Hutt was removed from his position running the business side of the Blazers and Oregon Arena Corp. in September 2001, he was put in charge of Allen's Action Sports Cable Network, Action Sports Media and Action Sports Entertainment Mobile.
ASCN folded last fall, and the organization's mobile HDTV truck was sold for several million dollars this winter. That left Hutt to oversee only Action Sports Media, dealing with the installation and marketing of stadium and arena videoboards and signage.
'There I was, ensconced in the chair across the street (at ASCN's former headquarters on Northeast Martin Luther King Boulevard), thinking, 'What are you going to do?' ' Hutt says.
Hutt arrived in Portland in 1995 after 18 years in marketing and broadcasting with the Detroit Pistons. In the beginning, he was authorized to run the business side of the Blazer operation. After Allen purchased the Seattle Seahawks in 1997, Hutt spent time performing marketing organizational duties for the NFL club, too.
'I am amazed I was able to hang onto the guardrails with the 24-7 life I was living,' he says.
Hutt, as with all former Allen employees, signed a nondisclosure form. He threw verbal bouquets at those who relieved him of his duties.
'They treated me extremely well,' Hutt says. 'I have no arguments, no anger, no bitterness or frustration. I had a wonderful seven years. I É am grateful for the opportunity. I had a ton of fun. I learned a lot.
'I had opportunities to grow as a businessperson. I built relationships and friendships I didn't have before that will last forever. I look in the rearview mirror and like what I see. I have no regrets. Now I am moving on.'
Hutt says he is proud of what the Blazers accomplished during his time there, including 'record revenues and a 104-game sellout streak' at the Rose Garden. He dispels the notion that he was undercut by Whitsitt and made a fall guy for the team's problems and tarnished image.
'Bob and I go back 20-some years,' Hutt says. 'We have been friends for a long time, and not just in a business sense. The man has never been anything but straight with me.
'That is why when we had the conversations starting a couple of months ago, he was trying to be very upfront with me Ñ so I wouldn't sit there and labor under false assumptions and wouldn't get stuck and miss an opportunity that came along.'
Hutt says he will do some consulting work on a temporary basis. He has put out feelers for job opportunities in the NBA, NFL or NHL and might start a sports marketing consulting company in Portland.
'I say humbly that I have been fortunate to gain expertise in a lot of areas,' Hutt says. 'There aren't a lot of people out there who can say that, from A to Z, they have been there, done that, and done it successfully.'
Hutt says he has increased his involvement as a member of the board of directors of the Portland Urban League and with Camp Attitude, a charity devoted to helping physically challenged people. Hutt, the son of a Free Methodist minister, says he also has reconnected with his spiritual roots.
'I have renewed my personal relationship with God,' he says. 'He is in control of my life. Day to day, I depend on him to direct what I am going to do. Some day, the path will be pretty clear. Doors will open to lead me where I should be in the next stage of my life. Because of that, I have no fears, worries or qualms about what the future holds.'