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The 11th Frame: Reno Tri-Properties executive, coach, and former BPAA, USBC president Jim Sturm removes erroneous claims in bio after questions raised

JEFF RICHGELS | Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013 8:00 am

Jim Sturm. Photo by Bowling Proprietors Association of America.

Update: Jim Sturm's bio has been removed from the Tri-Properties website, and multiple sources have confirmed that he no longer works for the Tri-Properties, although the company never responded to my request for comment.

Former BPAA and USBC president Jim Sturm, the executive director of bowling operations for the Reno Tri-Properties who has a deal to coach at the 900 Global Showcase Lanes during the USBC Open Championships, has for years claimed college degrees and PBA Regional titles he doesn’t have.

Those erroneous claims were erased from Sturm’s bio on the Tri-Properties website a couple of hours after I questioned him on Wednesday, but a screen capture picture of his bio before the changes is at the end of this story, and versions of the claims have been in published bios, news releases and stories in the past several years.

Before the changes, Sturm’s bio on the Tri-Properties site had stated that he has “a bachelors and masters degree (sic) in marketing from West Virginia State University,” a historically black college in Institute, W. Va..

And the USBC news release from when Sturm was elected USBC president in 2011 states that he "graduated from West Virginia State University with a degree in business administration and marketing."

However, the National Student Clearinghouse reports that Sturm has no degree from the school and was only enrolled there from Jan. 1 to May 1, 1982. The Clearinghouse is a verification service used by West Virginia State University and many other schools. I paid $9.95 to check Sturm’s record with the Clearinghouse and the PDF of the report is attached to the end of this blog.

Update: Two people who are connected with Sturm on LinkedIn report that his bio includes the claim that he has a bachelor of administration/marketing from West Virginia State University. I checked his bio here on LinkedIn and that is the case. And LinkedIn bios typically are handled by the individual.

One of the two, who formerly was a prominent bowling official, said Sturm "told me he had a Master's degree and had won PBA Regional tournaments."

The USBC news release also stated that Sturm "is a graduate of the Vincennes University Bowling Lanes Management program," and that is true, Vincennes University said Thursday afternoon. Sturm earned the degree on May 5, 1980, the Vincennes Registar's Office said.

Sturm’s bio on the Tri-Properties site also included this inaccurate statement: “He also serves on the United States Bowling Congress Board of Directors, holding their title of National President for the past two years.”

Sturm was a USBC board member and became president of USBC on Aug. 1, 2011, but he resigned that position and from the board in January 2012 after taking the job with the Tri-Properties (the Circus Circus Hotel & Casino, the Eldorado Hotel Casino and Silver Legacy Resort Casino).

Sturm’s Tri-Properties bio said that “He also has been a professional bowler for 19 years,” and “Other notable bowling achievements Jimmy Sturm has accomplished are twenty-six 300s, seven 800s, and 3 PBA titles.”

He also had a bio on zoominfo.com that has since been removed that said, “Two professional regional bowling titles and many accolades as an amateur scholastic bowler are also part of Jim’s resume.”

Sturm’s coaching bio on BOWL.com states that “after a 13-year absence, he has recently rejoined the PBA and has three PBA regional titles to his credit.”

(Sturm is not a national instructor with that program anymore. The active list of coaches in the program is here.)

The USBC news release from when he was elected USBC president stated that: “Sturm has numerous 300 games and multiple Professional Bowlers Association regional titles to his credit.”

My blog is among the numerous publications that have referenced those claimed PBA Regional titles over the years.

I was tipped to check on those while preparing to write about Sturm’s coaching at the Showcase Lanes after I had written this blog on Matt McNiel’s coaching at the Showcase Lanes and Mike Jasnau's coaching at Lane 81 in the National Bowling Stadium during the Open Championships.

I asked PBA to investigate and Bill Vint of PBA Media Relations reported in an email that “according to PBA records, (Sturm) was never a member prior to August 2010 and he has bowled in one senior regional,” and “he has never won a PBA title of any kind, as a non-pro or as a member.”

PBA has a complete list of PBA Regional champions, including non-members starting in the 1990s, and he isn’t on it, PBA reported. And prior to the 1990s, a non-member winning a title had to become a member to bowl again in a PBA event so even if Sturm won a title as a non-member long ago he could not have won multiple titles as he didn't join the PBA until 2010.

In addition, retired long-time PBA Regional directors like Harry O’Neale (South) and Al Thompson (Central) had no recollection of Sturm, who was a resident of West Virginia for years, bowling in or winning a PBA Regional.

Asked on Wednesday about the discrepancies in his bio, Sturm first replied with this email:

"2 titles back in 80/81 as a non member
Member in 84-86 and  2011-present    im sure the PR folks here  took it from 1980 to date    I don’t pay attention to that stuff   glad you caught it I will be sure they correct.
I was BPAA president from 2008-2010 and served on the bpaa board since 2004     not USBC,,,,,USBC president 2010-11, and served on the board since 2007 resigned in 2011,  december
I went to WV State from 82-84 working on my degree in marketing, no masters!! good lord I need to see what their making me look like….lol thanks Jeff
There ya go hopes this correct things for ya"

Just under 2 hours later, Sturm sent me another email stating:

Thanks for making me aware of the Bio dates and what was written I got with our IT person and the page has been corrected…..I need to pay more attention to the Bio when they write things about me…..I have requested a proof of any articles going out about me so I can clarify……thanks again"

The corrected bio includes no mention of his winning PBA titles or of West Virginia State University. 

He also changed his statement of "representing Brunswick" to "representing Storm," although I know that he has just a non-exclusive affiliation with Storm.

On Thursday afternoon, PBA sent me an email with information from director of member services Barb Wilt confirming their position on Sturm.

"If he was a member from 84-86 and he won regionals he would have a stat card," Wilt said. "He has no stat card, he is not on my complete historical list of Regional Champions and he is not on my list of former members. If he won one a regional as a non-member, he would not have been able to bowl again until he became a PBA member.  He would also be on my historical list of non-members who cashed in regionals. It is not possible for him to be missing from all of my historical data."

Sturm has been on Bowlers Journal’s Top 100 Coaches list for several years, as his bio stated and states. The lists are on the magazine’s website.

Sturm also was one of five men who shared the distinction of Bowlers Journal Person of the Year in 2009, stemming from his role in bringing the USBC from Greendale to Arlington, Texas. His bio said he was Bowlers Journal Man of the Year in 2008. (The award is similar to Time magazines's Man of the Year award that is not so much an honor as recognition of being the year's most influential person.)

A message was left Thursday morning seeking comment from the Tri-Properties but no one from the company responded to me.

TV station KRNV in Reno reported that the Eldorado released this statement:

"This is an internal matter that we are taking under review. In the meantime we are looking forward to kicking off the USBC Open Tournament this evening and providing the visiting bowlers with an exceptional experience here in Reno."

The Tri-Properties site states that one of Sturm’s roles “is hosting his Bowling Academy inside the National Bowling Stadium, where people of all skill levels and all walks of life can enjoy all of the fun and entertainment that Bowling has to offer, while developing and fine-tuning their skills.”

The announcement includes no details but Sturm said in an email exchange last week that he would be using the Showcase Lanes from 8 a.m. to noon for his coaching during the Open Championships and when the tournament ends that will be the Tri-Properties Training Center.

A 30-minute individual or team session will be $29 for those staying at the Tri Properties and $89 for others, he said.

“All bowlers will have a coupon in their packet of information they get at registration,” Sturm said.

The Showcase Lanes and the National Bowling Stadium are rented by USBC for its Championships from the owner, the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority.

RSCVA spokesman Ben McDonald said in a phone interview on Wednesday that "The RSCVA and NBS really don't have any affiliation with Jimmy Sturm."

McDonald added that anyone can rent space at the Stadium, but that Sturm had no deal at this time for the ground level lanes after the Open Championships end in early July.

Those lanes, incidentally, are in what is called The Kingpin Club by Brunswick, McDonald said. 900 Global Showcase Lanes is what USBC is calling the lanes during the tournament.

USBC issued a statement about the discrepancies in Sturm’s bio through Jason Overstreet, managing director-marketing and communications.

“USBC presumes biographical information submitted by our volunteer leaders and coaches is correct,” it said, referring to when Sturm was on USBC's board, served as president and was part of its instructors program. “We have not been formally contacted about any concerns.”

USBC used an executive search firm in the process of hiring CEO Stu Upson but for volunteer positions like board members and president it does not. All volunteers do go through the Registered Volunteer Program that also screens staff. Among other things, that program aims to ensure that junior league coaches are not convicted child molesters.

The USBC statement also said that “USBC shares access to the Showcase Lanes at the Stadium with our partners at the Reno Tri-Properties so they can offer coaching as an added benefit for guests during the championships. There is marketing material about their offer in the coupon book. USBC’s philosophy is that awareness about the value of instruction will benefit all our partner coaches.”

BPAA had no official comment on the situation.

Sturm was a long-time proprietor of Dunbar Lanes in Dunbar, W. Va., but that 12-lane center closed late last summer and was for sale for $450,000, according to this story in the Charleston Daily Mail.

The story said “Sturm bowled in college and for three years as a professional,” but does not mention PBA titles.

At around mid-day Thursday, about 4 hours after this story was posted, I received an email from Scotty Johnson, who said he was from Dunbar, W. Va., had known Sturm since 1984 and was part of the group that bought Dunbar Lanes in October 2012. Others in the group were Dan Dawson, Gary Dickens, and his son Brad.

"I grew up at Dunbar Lanes, bowling my first game there at age 5, back in '72," Johnson said. "I've experienced the decline of the lanes over the past several years and I was crushed when it closed. I contacted Gary almost as a joke, asking him if he'd like to help me buy a bowling alley! Dan joined us one night at another center after the 1st night of leagues and we started to hatch a plan. About 6 weeks later, we made the purchase. We did some renovations, cleaning, etc. and re-opened on Nov. 30. We started 5 short-season leagues to take us to the end of the season and we have plans to really get rolling (no pun intended) with fall leagues in Aug."

Johnson said he wanted the world to know that Dunbar Lanes is "is alive and well under new ownership."