David O’Connor has stepped down from Madison Square Garden, and James Dolan is coming in as interim president and CEO. The abrupt move, announced Monday, was a surprise. The former longtime agent and CAA partner, better known as ‘Doc’ O’Connor, had gone to MSG just a little more than two years ago.
As head honcho at MSG, O’Connor made more than $54 million in total compensation in the job and was listed as the highest-paid CEO in America last year with combined salary and stock. He had been at CAA for 30 years and was considered part of the core team of agents after the exit of the agency co-founders.
MSG owns sport franchises the New York Knicks, New York Rangers and Radio City Music Hall and MSG Networks. MSG is deep into theater and recently acquired the Tao Group, paying $181M for a 62.5% stake in the company earlier this year which, at that time, owned 19 Entertainment and nightlife venues in New York, Las Vegas, and Sydney including Tao, Marquee, Lavo, Avenue, The Stanton Social, Beauty & Essex and Vandal.
It’s not clear why the well-respected O’Connor left. Dolan is executive chairman of MSG as well as its majority owner.