Taking the Raines: New Pacers Sports & Entertainment CEO looks forward to new role

Mel Raines is set to become just the third active female executive in the NBA.
Posted at 7:39 PM, Mar 28, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-28 19:45:59-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Pacers Sports & Entertainment Chief Operating officer Mel Raines didn’t have the organization's CEO job on her radar.

“I’m certainly being given an opportunity that I don't take for granted,” explained Raines. “I don't take lightly and I could not be more excited for what we can continue to contribute to the city and the state.”

In January 2024, current Pacers CEO, Rick Fuson, announced his retirement from the organization. In his announcement, he shared that Raines will be taking over in June.

In a press release, Pacers Sports & Entertainment owner Steve Simon shared, “Mel has the temperament, talent and experience to take PS&E to the next level.”

Though she is new to the role of CEO, Raines is no stranger to Indianapolis.


Born in South Bend, Raines attended Indiana University in Bloomington before embarking on her 20-year political career.

In 2009, she was asked to come serve on the Indianapolis Super Bowl Host committee. Raines looked forward to coming home.

“My home state, and Indianapolis in particular, is such a unique community that I'm so proud to be a part of,” shared Raines. “People come together in a way that you don't see in other places for the greater good.”

Following the Super Bowl in 2012, Raines served as former Indiana District 5 representative Susan Brooks’ chief of staff.

In 2015, she received a call from fellow Super Bowl host committee colleague Rick Fuson to come join the Pacers.


"It can be hard to bridge political experience for people who haven't worked in politics into the business world, or certainly the sports world,” explained Raines.

“When the opportunity presented itself, I thought, 'Well, this is going to help me establish myself back in my home state, and show them what I can do.' I was lucky enough that that was the case.”

Raines move to CEO makes her just the third active female executive in the NBA. However, she hopes people see her for her qualifications before her gender.

“It was my hope that when the promotion was announced it had more to do with my background and somebody retiring after 40 years, which is a huge accomplishment than a woman was taking the job,” explained Raines. “I think that's perhaps an interesting footnote, but not the most important thing.”

In her new role, Raines looks to do more of the same, improving the amount of opportunities for women in sports.

“I’m going to do my best to show all of them that this is what they should and could want to be at some point in their career,” said Raines. “Hopefully, when they get to the room, half the people they see in that room are also going to be women.”