ESPN Outdoors today introduced Don Rucks as general manager of BASS and named Dean Kessel to the newly created position of vice president of BASS Operations.

Rucks, a longtime sports marketing executive for CITGO Petroleum, was the guiding force behind CITGO's title sponsorship of BASS events and support for the entire organization since 2001. He will report to Christine Godleski, vice president and general manager of ESPN Outdoors.

"Don knows BASS very well having helped us to grow it," said Godleski as she made the announcement to the more than 100 BASS employees based in Montgomery, Ala. "Don brings a great wealth of senior leadership, consumer marketing and sponsorship activation experience to our talented team."

Rucks has a strong knowledge of the fishing industry and brings over 30 years consumer marketing success to the worldwide authority on bass fishing. He has spent the last 14 years with CITGO maximizing various sponsorship programs including NASCAR and bass fishing. He is also a dedicated angler.

In his new role, Kessel will oversee the BASS conservation, events, federation and publications groups and will report to Rucks.

"We are looking to Dean to elevate our focus in those areas, with special emphasis on growing our youth and conservation initiatives," added Godleski. "Dean's major event experience is a valuable asset as we continue to support the federation and introduce a variety of enhancements to our events in the new year."

Several other organizational changes were also announced.

Gary Morgenstern will assume the new role of executive director, outdoor content initiatives. Working with BASS, ESPN and other content providers, Morgenstern will focus on creating, organizing and distributing tailored content for retail sale to outdoor enthusiasts. He will also harness the 35 years of historical outdoor content for distribution on platforms like wireless, broadband, VOD and DVD.

Julie Sobieski has been promoted to director, TV/media platforms. In this new role, she will be responsible for integrating and synchronizing content across all outdoor media, including television, internet, radio, and print. Sobieski will oversee the launch of ESPN's new themed Outdoor Blocks on ESPN2, featuring BassCenter.

Janet Bell has been promoted to director, event strategies and consumer shows. In addition to her current site selection responsibilities, she will oversee the growth and expansion of ESPN Outdoors' consumer expo business.

Steve Puckett will move into the role of Director, Administration for ESPN Outdoors/BASS. Steve will be responsible for administering important new business initiatives and projects involving ESPN Outdoors, BASS, and Walt Disney World.

Rucks will be based in Montgomery, Ala., at BASS with Kessel and Puckett, while Morgenstern, Sobieski and Bell will continue to work from ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn.