NEW ORLEANS -- New Hornets owner Tom Benson has appointed top New Orleans Saints executives Dennis Lauscha and Mickey Loomis to oversee both teams. The change, made official on Monday, puts Lauscha in charge of both clubs' business operations. Loomis, the Saints' general manager, will also head up the Hornets' basketball operations and oversee general manager Dell Demps.
Hugh Weber, the NBA team's outgoing president, joined the Hornets after Hurricane Katrina, while the club was displaced to Oklahoma City from 2005-2007. The NBA retained Weber after buying the Hornets from George Shinn in December 2010, and Weber played a leading role in boosting the Hornets' season ticket base to more than 10,000 as part of the league's plan to make the team more attractive to potential local buyers.
Benson stepped forward in April to buy the Hornets. Last week, the NBA Board of Governors approved his purchase for about $338 million, and the sale officially closed on Friday.
"We did make a change with Hugh and it is important to note that if it were not for his leadership and running the Hornets during a very difficult time, this sale would have not happened," Benson said in a written statement. "He made the transition very smooth and he should be commended. In most ownership changes like this, there is normally a change at the top. And although Hugh provided great leadership, we have decided it best to transfer our top management in Dennis to that role."
Loomis joined the Saints in 2000 and was promoted to general manager in 2002. He hired coach Sean Payton and signed quarterback Drew Brees, who combined to lead the Saints to their first Super Bowl in the 2009-10 season.
Loomis has been suspended eight games from his role as Saints general manager in connection with the NFL's bounty investigation. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello didn't immediately respond to a question concerning how the NFL would view Loomis' work with the Hornets during his NFL suspension.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press