UNLV signs up a new sports marketing company, Learfield, for its sports teams.

UNLV Athletics Dumps IMG as its Sports Marketing Firm, Hires Learfield in 10-year Deal

By ALAN SNEL

Big business news broke today out of the UNLV Athletic Department, where new AD Desiree Reed-Francois said UNLV and media rights dealer Learfield Communications have cut a 10-year deal starting in 2017-18, replacing IMG College, UNLV’s previous college sports marketing and media company.

Reed-Francois and Learfield CEO Greg Brown announced the new media and sponsorship agreement Thursday. It’s a $57 million deal, with $45 million guaranteed to the university, UNLV said. It’s worth $25 million more than the IMG deal.

The new relationship begins immediately, with the deal running concurrent with the start of UNLV’s 2017-18 athletic season.

Learfield, headquartered in Plano, Texas, will have a locally-based staff designated to cutting local media and sponsorship deals for the Rebels sports teams.

Typically, a university’s athletic department will hire a partnering sports marketing firm, which is charged, in this case, with managing UNLV’s corporate partner programs, sponsor signage, digital presence and TV and radio broadcasts and coaches’ shows through the 2026-27 athletic season.

“We look forward to this partnership,” Reed-Francois said in a prepared statement.

“Learfield is a nationally recognized leader in multimedia rights and understands the memorable fan experience we are trying to provide to our UNLV community,” her statement said.

Learfield takes over for IMG College and its UNLV general manager, Eric Kovac.

Learfield is no stranger to college sports and the Mountain West.

It’s been around for more than four decades, has and multimedia rights deals with 27 universities in the power five conferences including Cal, Colorado, Oregon State, Stanford and Utah in the Pac-12, and Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech in the Big 12.

Learfield also does a lot of business in UNLV’s Mountain West. The company has agreements with the conference itself, plus UNLV rivals Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Nevada, Reno, New Mexico, San José State, Utah State and Wyoming.

“We’re pleased to welcome UNLV to the Learfield family and look forward to working with Desiree and her team to develop new ideas and partner collaborations to help continue to grow the Rebel brand,” Learfield’s Brown said in a statement.

It will be interesting to see if the new Rebels’ logo sticks, because logos are part of selling a university brand.

Reaction to the new logo was harsh in the UNLV community and greater Las Vegas area.

The new UNLV logo has not drawn flattering reviews.

Regardless of whether the new logo sticks, now it’s Learfield’s job to hunt for sponsorship, commercial signage and event promotion deals for UNLV sports teams and their facilities while lining up radio broadcast rights agreements with local stations.

Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com

Alan Snel

Alan Snel brings decades of sports-business reporting experience to LVSportsBiz.com. Snel covered the business side of sports for the South Florida (Fort Lauderdale) Sun-Sentinel, the Tampa Tribune and Las Vegas Review-Journal. As a city hall beat reporter, Snel also covered stadium deals in Denver and Seattle. In 2000, Snel launched a sport-business website for FoxSports.com called FoxSportsBiz.com. After reporting sports-business for the RJ, Snel wrote hard-hitting stories on the Raiders stadium for the Desert Companion magazine in Las Vegas and The Nevada Independent. Snel is also one of the top bicycle advocates in the country.

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