SBJ/Jan. 10-16, 2011/CollegesPrint All
After more than three years of leading IMG College, Pat Battle will leave the company in June when his contract expires.
Battle was inserted as the senior corporate vice president and chief of IMG’s college division when it was formed in 2007. That’s when IMG entered the college space by acquiring Collegiate Licensing Co. — the business Battle and his father, Bill, built.
Pat Battle joined IMG in 2007.
Subsequent acquisitions of Host Communications and ISP Sports helped IMG expand its college business into a 750-person operation with annual sales of more than $400 million, making it the dominant marketing, media and licensing rights holder in the space. IMG spent close to $300 million on the three acquisitions.
“Pat had a vision and he executed it,” said George Pyne, president of IMG Sports & Entertainment. “When Pat’s contract ends, he’s going to go on and do other things, but he’s created a great franchise here. He’s done what he set out to do.”
Ben Sutton, who founded ISP Sports in 1992 and built it into one of the nation’s most prolific college sports marketing agencies with 60 schools, was named president of IMG College in July after he sold ISP to IMG.
It was through that transaction that Sutton took over leadership of IMG College and Battle moved into an advisory role as chairman. He will remain in that position until his term with the company is complete in June.
IMG also recently inserted Lawton Logan as the head of the new national collegiate sales division upon the departure of Tom Worcester, who had been senior vice president and managing director of U.S. business development.
“The story is still being written, but I think you’ll look back in five years and see that IMG’s moves to consolidate the collegiate marketplace were very successful,” Battle said. “Universities are going to benefit, sponsors and advertisers are going to benefit. The college landscape has been so fragmented, nobody thought it could ever come together.”
Battle saw how the fragmented college marketplace could be brought together when CLC did it in the 1980s and ’90s. Bill Battle founded CLC in 1981 and, school by school, obtained the licensing rights to more than 200 universities, conferences and bowls.
“The original vision for all of this was my dad’s,” Pat said of Bill, the former Tennessee football coach who founded CLC and convinced Alabama to be his first client. “It took 25 years, but we saw that it could be done. IMG’s was done through acquisitions, so it didn’t take nearly as long.”
For years, Pat Battle espoused a vision for consolidating the multimedia rights marketplace. If a company could roll up the major rights holders into a single entity, it would create a unified marketing front for those schools, and sponsors would find it easier to navigate and spend their money.
“Long before there was an IMG in the college space, Coach Battle, Pat and I had many conversations about consolidating the college sports marketplace,” Sutton said. “The Battles brought me to this party. Pat did a great job of setting the table at IMG College for me to come in and run this business.”
In addition to his involvement in the rollup of CLC, Host and ISP, Pat Battle sparked a new sales relationship with the NCAA and its media partner, CBS Sports, in early 2008.
In the next 24 months, IMG assisted in adding a new corporate champion, Capital One, and four new corporate partners.
“These deals got done at a time when the economy stunk,” Battle said. “It just shows you how much demand there is for a national platform in the college marketplace.”
Battle said he’s not sure what’s next for him, but he hopes it will be something that keeps him in sports.
Sutton will spearhead IMG’s ties with the NCAA and its media partners, Turner Sports and CBS, but Pyne said he’ll also take on a more active role in that relationship.