The Northwestern Univ. athletics department Thursday announced that it has signed a 10-year multimedia rights deal with Learfield Sports. Learfield's new Chicago-based Northwestern Sports Properties will handle all aspects of the school's media rights, including signage, sponsorship, corporate hospitality, event marketing, radio and TV coaches' shows and official athletic website advertising. Former Chicagoland Speedway Senior Dir of Marketing, Sales & PR Bob Welch has joined Northwestern Sports Properties as GM of the four-person staff (Learfield).
GREAT CHOICE: The Buccaneers reportedly are the leading candidate to be featured on HBO's "Hard Knocks" next season, and ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas wrote the "exposure would be tremendous and, of all teams, the Bucs could stand to really increase their national audience." They "didn't sell out a single-home game last season" despite finishing with a 10-6 record. The team has "some potential superstars" in QB Josh Freeman, WR Mike Williams and RB LeGarrette Blount, as well as coach Raheem Morris, "who can be one of the league's more entertaining coaches." Yasinskas: "Putting cameras on Morris virtually all the time could bring all sorts of potential downsides. Morris is quite capable of saying or doing something controversial. So are most of his players" (ESPN.com, 3/24).
THE HORSE WHISPERERS: Horseracing channel HRTV signed a programming deal with Horse & Country TV for an exclusive weekly 2-hour programming block. The block, "Horse & Country on HRTV, the Best from Across the Pond," is scheduled for Saturday nights at 9:00pm ET beginning this weekend. HRTV will re-air the block Sunday mornings, Monday nights and Tuesday afternoons (John Ourand, THE DAILY).