SBD/Issue 218/Sports Media

IMG College To Acquire ISP Sports, Rights To Nearly 60 Schools


IMG College is set to acquire ISP Sports today in a blockbuster move that will shift the multimedia rights of close to 60 universities from ISP to IMG. No financial terms of the acquisition were available and the principals of the two companies could not be reached for comment, but an announcement could come as soon as today, industry sources say. Among the schools where ISP has rights are Duke, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame (football radio broadcasts), UCLA, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. IMG already owns rights at Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas, among several others. The acquisition will considerably consolidate the marketplace, which has long been dominated by ISP, Learfield Sports and IMG College (formerly Host Communications), and leave Learfield as the most significant competition to IMG. It is not certain what personnel moves will follow, sources say, but ISP CEO Ben Sutton is expected to stay on and play a major role in the business of IMG College. IMG College Senior Corporate VP Pat Battle will continue to set the strategy and direction for the division. Sutton founded ISP Sports in '92 and built the North Carolina-based company into a power player in college sports marketing, using the catchphrase "America's Home for College Sports." After initially acquiring the marketing and media rights to hometown Wake Forest, Sutton's alma mater, he got Virginia Tech and was on his way. In recent years, Sutton had been in discussions with Learfield Sports Chair & Founder Clyde Lear about acquiring Learfield's college division, but the two sides never could reach an agreement.

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