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Rowdies in no hurry to replace departed president Lee Cohen

Under Cohen’s watch, the team won two straight Eastern Conference finals in the USL Championship.
Former Rowdies president Lee Cohen, far right, takes part in a “Champion’s Day” in 2021 with officials from the Lightning and Bucs, as well as the St. Petersburg and Tampa mayors.
Former Rowdies president Lee Cohen, far right, takes part in a “Champion’s Day” in 2021 with officials from the Lightning and Bucs, as well as the St. Petersburg and Tampa mayors. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Jun. 10, 2022

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rowdies no longer have a president and have no immediate plans to find a replacement.

Lee Cohen stepped down last week, announced by the Unused Substitutes Show (an independent podcast produced by Rowdies fans) on Twitter. Podcast co-founder Matthew Cox said Cohen reached out to him and some other contributors to inform them of the decision, mentioning family/personal reasons.

“He’s been instrumental to where the club is today (along with others) and he’s a big reason why our podcast is still around today,” Cox said via a Twitter direct message. “For all of that I’m always going to be personally grateful and he’s definitely going to be missed.”

The club said it would not be making anyone available to discuss Cohen’s departure.

“We appreciate Lee Cohen’s service to the organization and wish him the best going forward,” the team said in an email.

Rowdies vice president Ryan Helfrick, director of business development Luis Cucatti and director of operations and facilities Jeff Parkinson are handling the day-to-day aspects of the team. Rays presidents Brian Auld and Matthew Silverman, who both serve as vice chairmen of the team, also are assisting.

Cohen had served as Rowdies president since January 2020. After leaving the United Soccer League’s corporate offices in 2010 to become the Rowdies director of operations, he was promoted to chief operating officer in 2012.

Following Cohen’s promotion, the Rowdies won Soccer Bowl 2012 to become champions of the North American Soccer League before joining the USL in 2017.

Current manager Neill Collins was appointed in 2018 and has won two consecutive Eastern Conference finals. He took a moment to publicly thank Cohen in a news conference on Sunday, following the Rowdies’ 1-0 win over Louisville City FC.

“Just the support, like the owners have given me, that Lee’s shown in me has been a huge part of why we’ve had the success that we’ve had the last two or three years on the field,” Collins said. “I don’t know if I would have been able to do it without him backing me, and even when things weren’t going quite as well as a young coach, he was there to support me.”