West Virginia AD Lyons Bullish On Possibilities With Potential IMG College-Learfield Merger
Learfield and IMG College are close to a merger, and West Virginia AD Shane Lyons thinks "much good can come" from the deal, according to Mitch Vingle of the CHARLESTON GAZETTE-MAIL. Lyons, whose school has IMG College as its multimedia rights holder, said, "When you’re talking about the future, each company has about 100 schools each. So now you’ll have 200. I think that will help your sponsorships and buying power. The future could mean more opportunities for our sponsorships and companies." Meanwhile, Lyons was asked if the current "duopoly" could be "turned into a monopoly." Lyons said, "There's that first reaction, but JMI Sports has come into the market. They have Kentucky right now. I think they’ll continue to be a player in the market. You do look at it and wonder though if, by merging the two companies, are they monopolizing a whole lot? At the same time, you go by your market value. You have some type of figure in your head of what your property is worth." Vingle notes JMI Sports and Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment are "smaller companies in the same space." But the future -- "especially in regard to negotiations -- has to be a concern." But Lyons "isn’t panicking" (CHARLESTON GAZETTE-MAIL, 9/21). Wake Forest AD Ron Wellman, whose school also is with IMG College, said there were "more questions than answers" regarding the merger, and based on past experience, there will be "a lot of time before anything is finalized." In North Carolina, John Brasier cited a source as saying that if criticism "builds that a merger would create a monopoly in the industry," IMG College and Learfield may "argue that much of their direct competition for advertising dollars comes from sources outside college sports such as professional teams." IMG College and Learfield could "argue that they need the greater bargaining power to remain competitive against powerful entities such as the NFL" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/20).