Advertising Age magazine's Monday issue was the first to report the surprise move at Time Inc., a company whose publications traditionally promote from within their editorial ranks.
According to a Time inc. press release, Mr. McDonell named SI's executive editor David Bauer -- widely considered the top internal candidate for managing editor -- as deputy managing editor.
That move could help Mr. McDonell with one of his clearest challenges, that of navigating the insular internal culture of SI.
Mr. McDonell's appointment is widely seen as a company mandate for change at the venerable sports title. That mandate is believed to be closely associated with John Huey, Time Inc.'s recently appointed editorial director.
Like many key magazines, Sports Illustrated had a disastrous 2001: ad pages plummeted 17.3% but, more tellingly, they were flat in the ad-mad year of 2000. For the first six months of 2001, SI's circulation was up 0.9%, to 3.2 million.