SBJ/September 12-18, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Stultz to leave IMG College at year’s end

Tom Stultz, who worked arm-in-arm with University of Texas officials to develop the Longhorn Network, will step down from his post at IMG College at the end of the year.

Stultz, 60, led the turnaround of Host Communications from a company on the brink of bankruptcy in 2004 to a college marketing powerhouse. Once Host recovered, IMG College bought the business in 2007 for $74 million, and put Stultz in charge of the multimedia rights partnerships.

He worked with Texas, a longtime client, on the Longhorn Network until its launch on Aug. 26, negotiating the 20-year, $300 million rights deal with ESPN and carving out a position for IMG College to sell the advertising on what turned out to be an ESPN-owned channel. It was on the eve of the Longhorn Network launch that Stultz told Texas Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds that he’d be leaving the company.

SHANA WITTENWYLER
Tom Stultz was key to the development of the new Longhorn Network.
“To see DeLoss and [UT President] Bill Powers smiling from ear to ear, that gave me a lot of satisfaction,” Stultz said of the channel’s launch. “They are so proud of the network. To help see it through will be one of the highlights of my life.”

Stultz departs at a time when IMG College President Ben Sutton is reorganizing the reporting structure and creating a more defined role for Roger VanDerSnick, the former NASCAR executive who joined IMG College in April. VanDerSnick, who has been working in IMG College sales without a title, this week will be named chief sales and marketing officer and will oversee sales from the national level to the local level for its 90 college properties.

Lawton Logan, senior vice president of U.S. business development, and a guiding force in the development of IMG College’s national sales force, will report to VanDerSnick, as will Doug Gillin, senior vice president, collegiate property sales. Logan will continue to report to George Pyne, president of IMG Sports & Entertainment, on non-college business.

Sutton said the most recent changes complete the integration of IMG’s acquisitions, starting with Collegiate Licensing Co. and Host in 2007, followed by ISP Sports in 2010.

“The timing is right to create a single executive position with responsibility for strategic development and oversight of our sales efforts,” Sutton said of VanDerSnick, who will be one of four department heads reporting directly to Sutton. The others are Mark Dyer, senior vice president in charge of ancillary businesses like licensing and ticketing; Andrew Giangola, vice president of communications; and Tony Crispino, COO.

Stultz will stay at IMG College through the year as a consultant to Sutton. As for the future, Stultz, who still lives in Lexington, Ky., where he was originally based with Host, said he wouldn’t limit his opportunities to any particular field.

“I thrive on running a company and making the kind of decisions that influence strategy,” Stultz said. “IMG did everything it was supposed to do. Nobody’s mad, nobody’s upset, it’s just a matter of me wanting to pursue other challenges. It happens with mergers and acquisitions.”

Sutton credited Stultz for his “impactful” role in expanding IMG’s college business, and said that Stultz will complete a few more projects before he departs at the end of the year.

Stultz had been at the forefront of building the company’s multimedia rights business from the time IMG acquired Host in 2007.

When IMG acquired ISP Sports in 2010 and Sutton was installed as the college division president, Stultz maintained responsibility for the college partnerships and spent much of last year negotiating Texas’ deal with ESPN, which was sealed in January. Host has owned the Longhorns’ TV, radio and sponsorship rights since the early 1980s and when Dodds formed his vision for a university-branded channel, he turned to Stultz to lead the talks with potential partners.

“Tom’s been there from the beginning of discussions about the network,” Dodds said. “This was done under his watch. He’s honorable, he’s fun and he’s very good. That’s a pretty good combination.”

When Stultz was named CEO of Host Communications in 2004, the company was losing $4 million a year and missing guaranteed rights payments to its college partners. He closed Host’s money-losing events business, and later that year he signed Kentucky, the school in Host’s backyard, to a record 10-year, $80 million deal.

Stultz and UK were both betting on Host’s future.

“He came into the industry at a time when there was great flux in college sports marketing,” said Mitch Barnhart, Kentucky’s AD. “He’s become a real stabilizing force in that industry.”

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said the relationships Stultz quickly cultivated within the league after taking over Host were integral to keeping the conference’s business.

“We would likely not have made our 10-year agreement with then-Host Communications if it was not for Tom,” Slive said. “He’s a tough but fair negotiator, and he’ll be missed.”
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