SBD/April 11, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Former Rutgers AD Pernetti Paid $7M To End Marketing Deal With Nelligan Sports

Rutgers' deal with Nelligan had four years remaining before the buyout
One of Tim Pernetti’s "final acts" as Rutgers AD was to pay more than $7M "to end the school’s 13-year marketing relationship with Nelligan Sports Marketing," according to sources cited by Tim Luicci of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. One source said that IMG College "appears to be the frontrunner to land the contract over Learfield Sports to handle RU's radio and TV rights as well as sponsorship deals." The sources said that Pernetti "completed the buyout with Nelligan Sports the night of March 28, with the financial transaction completed the next day." RU's deal with Nelligan, "originally brokered" by former AD Bob Mulcahy, had four years remaining. One source said that Pernetti, in "anticipation of the school’s move to the Big Ten in 2014, asked Nelligan Sports Marketing last summer to re-work the deal in place." He envisioned a "financial windfall from a marketing standpoint with the move to the Big Ten," and it is possible Rutgers could offset the $7M it paid to Nelligan "with a signing bonus from its new marketing firm." Those signing bonuses can "easily approach" $10M for schools in major conferences like the Big Ten. Schools in that conference "routinely have $100 million marketing deals over 10 to 12-year periods." The deal with Nelligan generated around $40M -- with $30M "going to Rutgers -- during the 13 years it was in place" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 4/11).

SUPPORTIVE AT FIRST: In Newark, Sherman & Heyboer cite minutes from a closed-door meeting in December between Pernetti and top Rutgers officials regarding the suspension of former men's basketball coach Mike Rice as showing that RU President Robert Barchi "commended Pernetti and his department for handling the matter 'appropriately.'" More than 20 Rutgers officials, trustees and board members also attended the Dec. 14 meeting in which the athletics committee of the university’s BOG "discussed the allegations Rice had shoved and kicked players and used homophobic slurs during practices." No one in the room "questioned whether Rice should have been fired or asked to view the video of the coach’s abuses themselves." Records also show that "no one bothered to mention the discussion of the Rice punishment at a public meeting of the full" BOG later that same day. The minutes show that BOG athletic committee Chair Mark Hershhorn -- remarking on the "stories of the suspension that had appeared that morning in The Star-Ledger and other newspapers -- did not argue that Rice should be fired." He "only asked Pernetti to explain the circumstances of the suspension." Much of the meeting "did not even focus on Rice." Among the issues on the table were "discussions about the university’s entrance" into the Big Ten and "concerns over the revenues being generated" through RU's deal with Nelligan (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 4/11).

LEND A HELPING HAND: In New Jersey, John Rowe writes Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany's influence is expected "to be all over Rutgers’ search for a new athletic director," and he is likely to have a hand in the "hiring of a men’s basketball coach, as well." RU officials reportedly have "decided to listen to Delany." He already has suggested Wisconsin Deputy AD Sean Frazier and Michigan State Deputy AD Greg Ianni for the position. Rowe: "Whoever gets the job must hit the ground running" (Bergen RECORD, 4/11).
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