SBJ/January 14-20, 2013/Colleges

IMG College lands rights to Ole Miss, adds to SEC roster

IMG College has bought the multimedia rights to the University of Mississippi, giving the sports agency rights at 10 of the Southeastern Conference’s 14 universities.

Ole Miss’ rights formerly were owned by TeleSouth, a Jackson, Miss.-based company that runs radio networks and stations across the state. IMG College bought the Ole Miss contract from TeleSouth for an undisclosed amount. The school and IMG College will now engage in talks for an extension and, most likely, a raise.

The current contract guarantees Ole Miss $2.2 million this year, well below the market value for an SEC school. The Rebels’ in-state rival, Mississippi State, is guaranteed $4 million a year in its deal with Learfield Sports. Other schools in the conference, such as Florida and Georgia, receive as much as $10 million a year from their multimedia rights contract.

“It’s exciting that we’re going to be with the national leader in the multimedia rights business,” said Ross Bjork, Ole Miss’ athletic director. “IMG has the reach to take our brand nationally, and we feel we have a brand that can bring in some national sponsorship opportunities. They’re going to help take us to the next level with our branding, our revenue and our exposure, all of the things you look for in a deal like this.”

IMG College has rights at more than 80 schools and its SEC partners include Florida, Kentucky and Georgia, among others. IMG has a minority piece of the Alabama property, which is run by Learfield.

IMG College will manage all of the Rebels’ rights associated with advertising, corporate sponsorship, the school’s radio network, digital, venue signage and video boards. Promotional rights, hospitality and print rights also are part of the deal.

TeleSouth will still have a presence with Ole Miss because many of its stations will carry the football and basketball games. IMG College will work with TeleSouth to produce and distribute radio programming.

“This bolsters an already strong national sales program and strengthens our deep presence in the SEC,” said Ben Sutton, president of IMG College.

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