In what it is hailing as "one of the most valuable partnerships of its kind in college athletics history," the University of Kentucky announced Monday that it is leaving IMG and has awarded its athletics and campus multimedia marketing rights to JMI Sports for $210 million over 15 years starting in 2015-16. UK's current deal with IMG, which expires in April, was worth $80.5 million over 10 years. This new deal is significantly larger despite television rights no longer being included due to the SEC's broadcast agreements and upcoming launch of the SEC Network. Under its agreement with JMI Sports, UK's guaranteed rights fee starts at $9.1 million in 2015-16 and increases annually up to $16 million in 2029-30. There is also a $29.4 million signing bonus to be paid over the first two years of the contract, which UK noted in its news release "will help the university fund important capital projects." "This partnership reflects the fact that the University of Kentucky is a national brand with the largest and most loyal fan base in all of intercollegiate athletics," athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in the release. "The size of this partnership – and our partnership with an emerging force in college sports in JMI Sports – will enable us to maintain and grow as one of the country's few financially self-sustaining programs." UK notes that Alabama signed a new media rights deal in April worth between $15-16 million annually over 10 years, giving it the third-largest deal in the nation behind Texas and Notre Dame. Both those schools have unique TV agreements and Alabama's new deal includes concessions, pouring rights, isotonic beverage, seat rentals and merchandise, while UK manages each of those separately. "It is critically important that our athletic program remain not only financially self-sustaining, but is also positioned to continue to be an aggressive partner in our academic efforts," UK president Eli Capilouto said in a news release. "Nowhere else in the country is an athletics program more essential to building a thriving public, residential, research university. This partnership with JMI Sports helps ensure those contributions are strengthened." Last year, UK athletics committed $65 million toward the cost of a more than $100 million Academic Science Building. JMI Sports is a relative newcomer to the sports marketing business, founded in 2006 by John Moores, former owner and chairman of the San Diego Padres, and Erik Judson, who has managed sports development projects such as the Padres' Petco Park and University of Oregon's Knight Arena. Tom Stultz, president of JMI Sports, is a former senior vice president and managing director of IMG College's multimedia rights business.
UK announces $210 million marketing deal
Louisville Courier-Journal | Jun 24