New Owner For ECU Athletics' Multimedia Marketing Partner, ISP Sports

ISP Sports, the company that holds the exclusive multimedia rights to ECU Pirate Athletics, is being acquired by another media company.

That company is IMG Worldwide.

Below you will find a news release from IMG, as well as information on the ECU-ISP partnership from ECU's website.

News Release from IMG Worldwide:

IMG Worldwide, Inc. (IMG), a premier global sports, entertainment and media company, and ISP Sports, a U.S. college media rights management company, announced today that ISP has agreed to be acquired by IMG.

A definitive purchase agreement has been approved and signed by the parties. Closing is anticipated promptly following certain regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

ISP, headquartered in Winston-Salem, NC, has marketing agreements with some of America’s best-known college athletic programs under management, in addition to conferences, events and venues across the country. With more than 275 employees, ISP is a multi-media rightsholder for Alabama, Arizona State, Auburn, Baylor, California, Duke, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Syracuse, UCLA, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Washington, among others.

ISP will be combined with IMG's existing college sports group, which provides marketing, licensing and media services to universities.

"We are very pleased to add ISP Sports to IMG's college sports business," said Ted Forstmann, Chairman and CEO of IMG. "Ben Sutton and his team have built a terrific company, representing some of the most prominent names in college athletics. This acquisition will complement our existing college business, which is an increasingly significant part of IMG, and demonstrates our continued focus on investing in businesses that provide substantial future growth opportunities for IMG," Forstmann said. "It will also be terrific for the college sports fan as this combination provides a great opportunity for us to provide more, better and higher quality programming, as well as expanding the base of customers."

"I am very proud of the team and business we have built over nearly 20 years at ISP," said Ben C. Sutton, Jr., the founder and CEO of ISP. "We are excited about the potential for future growth as part of the incredible company Ted Forstmann and his team at IMG have developed over the past five years. This move will provide our client institutions the opportunity to expand new revenue growth platforms as they seek new and incremental funding sources to build and sustain competitive athletic programs, as well as to help fund their educational programs. In addition, it will create tremendous benefit for our sponsors by increasing competition for national sales in the college environment, and by providing them with new and enhanced services and increased efficiency."

Sutton will become President of the newly combined business with responsibility for the day-to-day operations and development of the IMG College business enterprise. While the division will maintain significant operations in Atlanta and Lexington, KY, the IMG College corporate headquarters will be in Winston Salem. Pat Battle, Senior Corporate Vice President of IMG, will assume the newly created position of Chairman of the IMG College Sports Division. Both Sutton and Battle will report to George Pyne, President of IMG's Sports and Entertainment Group.

"We couldn't be happier for Ben and his team to have this opportunity to join forces with IMG," according to Dan Guerrero, Director of Athletics at UCLA and Chair of the NCAA Men's Basketball Committee. "ISP has done a magnificent job for the Bruins, but this combination will create an even stronger team and should open more doors to potential national sponsors interested in college sports marketing."

Gene Smith, Director of Athletics at Ohio State University, commented "on the terrific job the IMG College team has done on behalf of the Buckeyes. But this combination—and I know both companies well—is going to create tremendous opportunities not only for our revenue growth, but also in the expansion of content for our fans. This will make for increased competition in sports sponsorship."

Following the acquisition, the IMG College division will employ over 700 people in 75 offices throughout the U.S. with annual sales of over $400 million. The Division will manage certain multi-media rights for colleges and collegiate athletic conferences, which includes corporate sponsorships, radio and television programs, publishing, printing, creative design, marketing, Internet, national advertising and signage sales, and numerous lifestyle and event marketing platforms. It will also serve as the exclusive licensing agency for more than 200 collegiate properties, including the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), The Rose Bowl, the Heisman Trophy and the NCAA, as well as many of the most recognized colleges and universities throughout the United States, assisting them with a wide array of licensing and administrative services. In addition, IMG College has had a 30-year relationship with the NCAA, representing NCAA Properties including NCAA Corporate Partners and NCAA Events and Hospitality. The Division is also involved in stadium facilities financing and in the stadium seating business through its IMG Legends joint venture with the New York Yankees and the Dallas Cowboys.

Here is information about ECU and ISP sports from ECU's website:

"The East Carolina Department of Athletics and ISP Sports, the national leader in the collegiate sports marketing industry, entered into an agreement during the spring of 2006 that provides the company with the exclusive multimedia rights to Pirate Athletics.

The partnership, which guarantees the university an annual rights fee plus additional considerations based upon revenue generated by ISP, encompasses all sales and marketing opportunities associated with ECU sports, including radio and television programming, game programs and other athletics publications, signage in all campus athletic venues, and at-event corporate promotions and hospitality functions.

"The partnership with ISP Sports allows ECU Athletics to join a group of elite institutions with similar goals and aspirations as well as helping to maximize the value of our marketing efforts," East Carolina Director of Athletics Terry Holland said at the time of the announcement. "This agreement signals a new day in ECU Athletics and provides us with opportunities that we have not had before. I have the highest personal and professional respect for (ISP Sports President and CEO) Ben Sutton and the team he has built at ISP."

East Carolina is one of an impressive group of more than 60 NCAA member institutions, conferences, bowl games and venues that are aligned with ISP Sports. The ISP family of partners reaches into 34 states from the Northeast through the mid-Atlantic and across the Southeast, while extending across the Southwest and most of the West coast as well. That list includes ECU's fellow Conference USA members Houston, Marshall, Southern Miss, UAB, UCF and UTEP.

"We are thrilled to have East Carolina as part of our ISP family of schools," Sutton said. "There has always been tremendous enthusiasm and support surrounding Pirate Athletics, and with the leadership of Terry Holland and his administrative team, the future of the overall program is extremely bright. We are excited to be a part of that future."

End of information from ECU.

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  • by glasshalfempty on Jul 28, 2010 at 01:37 PM
    at first glance this seems like a good deal for the pirates until you realize that the new company represents alot of pirate rivals who are from bigger markets and who will make more money for them because of the larger markets. I think this does not bode well for the future but personally I think div 1- a will go from 125 teams down to 64 and the rest will be a new div1aa which will include the ecus of the world I know this sounds crazy but in this economy the big boys will circle the wagons in the next few years and shut the mid majors out. the mid majors will have to come up with their own playoff system.

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