We don’t cover much sports here, but this is business, big business.

The University of Arkansas Athletic Department said today it had extended until 2028 an agreement with IMG College to handle all sports marketing and media rights deals for the UA.

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The new deal comes with a promise from IMG to upgrade equipment in Razorback football, basektball and baseball venues to provide free WiFi to spectators.

The department takes in more than $100 million a year, about a third of it from broadcast contracts, royalties and similar sources. Ticket sales and private contributions provide most of the rest of the money for the department, which doesn’t receive tax or student fee support (though the name is worth plenty as are the campus facilities.) UA is one of only 22 self-supporting athletic departments and it recently increased from $2 million to $3.5 million the amount of its revenue it contributes to general campus programs.


The extension is a vote of confidence at a somewhat difficult time, with questions about the continuing surge of money from cable TV-related contracts and even in some quarters concern about a dip in public interest in collegiate supports from overexposure and rising concern about injuries in football. (Not big topics in Arkansas at the moment, I know.)

I’ve asked what IMG gets in return for its management. I’m also curious to see the contract with IMG itself and whether there are provisions for unexpected changes in past revenue flows. I’ll pass it along when received.


Meanwhile, the Athletic Department release said in part:

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Leading collegiate sports marketing business IMG College and the University of Arkansas Department of Intercollegiate Athletics today announced an agreement that will extend its multimedia rights partnership through 2028.
Since 2008, IMG College, through Razorback Sports Properties, has coordinated multimedia rights for Razorback Athletics, which include corporate sponsorships, signage, at-event hospitality, radio and television programming, digital advertising, media guides and playbills.

As part of the 10-year agreement, IMG College will make a significant investment in technology enhancements for Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Bud Walton Arena and Baum Stadium. When those enhancements are completed, Razorback fans will be able to access free WiFi systems in each of those venues.

“For the past nine years, IMG College has been a tremendous partner and played an integral role in helping Razorback Athletics become one of the nation’s strongest intercollegiate athletics programs,” said Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long. “The national leadership of IMG College and our local Razorback Sports Properties team led by General Manager David Shoemaker, understand the collegiate environment and have worked effectively to bring new partners to our program. These partnerships have helped our programs to be competitive in the SEC and nationally. We are confident our partnership with IMG College will grow even stronger through the coming years.

“Thanks to the passionate support of our season ticket holders, our supporters, our fans and our corporate partners, the University of Arkansas is among the most valuable intercollegiate athletics programs in the nation. Not only does that allow us to be financially self-sustaining, which means we do not receive any State of Arkansas tax appropriations funds collected from the taxpayers in the State to support our operations, student fees or direct University support, it also allows us to contribute millions of dollars each year back to campus to further support our academic mission. We are pleased that with this extension with IMG College, we will able to continue those collaborative efforts with campus while investing significant resources into the development of our more than 460 student-athletes competing in 19 sports as well as enhancing the game day experience for all Razorback fans.”