Francis L. Dale said Wednesday that he is resigning as publisher and chief executive of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner to become commissioner of the Major Indoor Soccer League.
Dale, 63, was elected to the commissioner's post Wednesday at a meeting of the soccer league's 13 owners in Chicago.
Hearst Corp., the New York-based owner of the Herald Examiner, so far has named no replacement. In a statement distributed to Herald Examiner employees, Dale said he would remain at the newspaper for a "reasonable period of time in order to assist in an orderly transition."
Dale has served as publisher of the Herald Examiner since 1977, but rumors had it for several months that he was interested in leaving the paper.
"This will be about my sixth career," Dale said in an interview. "About every seven years or so I decide I'm going to shift. I believe in that as a way of staying young. It's about time to move again."
Approached for Job
Dale, who will work out of both Chicago and Los Angeles, said that he was approached by the soccer league through an executive search firm shortly after the Summer Olympics and that he had a final interview with league representatives last week.
Dale earlier had interviewed to become commissioner of baseball, but the job was given to Peter V. Ueberroth after the latter turned the Olympic Games in Los Angeles into a profit-making exercise.
Dale's career has followed myriad paths, from law to journalism to sports and politics. He was affiliated with the Cincinnati Enquirer for 20 years, rising to president and publisher of the newspaper from 1965 to 1973.
In 1967, he organized a group to buy the Cincinnati Reds baseball and Cincinnati Bengals football teams. Dale was president of the Reds for six years.
Dale was a supporter of President Richard M. Nixon's reelection campaign and, in 1973, was appointed as a presidential representative to a United Nations organization in Geneva, holding the rank of ambassador.
Holds Law Degree
He is a graduate of University of Virginia Law School and Duke University. He is active in several civic youth organizations locally and nationally, including the Boy Scouts of America and the Boys Clubs of America.
Hearst Corp. executives were unavailable for comment Wednesday, but the Herald Examiner published a statement from the company's vice president and general manager of the newspaper division, Robert Danzig:
"This is yet one more in a series of distinguished careers that Frank Dale has had, and we congratulate him on his appointment."
Herald Examiner sources said Dale's departure caught Hearst by surprise. Dale's eight years at the Herald Examiner were ones in which circulation continued to slide. As of September, 1984, the paper's circulation was 233,193, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
Dale took over at the Herald Examiner following a decade-long strike in which the paper's circulation plummeted to 338,372 daily from 729,494.
This year, employees have been told that Herald Examiner circulation may be close to rising for the first time in several years, aided by intense employee promotions.
Under one promotion, any employee who can sell a subscription for $13 will get a $10 bonus. The paper also is giving away two cruises for two to the Mexican Riviera.
As soccer commissioner, Dale will succeed Earl Foreman, who is retiring. Foreman created the MISL in 1978 and has served as chairman since. The league has 13 teams and plays a 48-game season from November through April.
The MISL is the most stable of the American soccer leagues, but teams on the West Coast have not fared as well as those elsewhere and the league cannot yet be called thriving. "I would not accept a post that is easy," Dale said. "It hasn't been easy here."