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Learfield names executive director for 10-year, $100 million partnership with Cal Athletics

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OCTOBER 04, 2016

Sports media company Learfield announced Monday that Joe Mulford would be executive director of its operations with Cal Athletics, kicking off a 10-year, approximately $100 million multimedia rights partnership.

The partnership is worth roughly twice as much as Cal Athletics’ deal with IMG College, Learfield’s main competitor in the industry, which is set to expire in 2017. Mulford previously managed his own sponsorship and marketing practice, QM Strategies, and has experience working with the San Diego Padres, the San Francisco Giants and the NBA.

“We are looking forward to welcoming Joe to Cal and are excited to add someone who has his level of experience, familiarity with the Bay Area landscape and appreciation of the university,” said Cal Associate Athletic Director and Chief Revenue Officer Ashwin Puri in a press release.

The partnership, first announced Sept. 12, comes in the aftermath of the campus’s 10-year, $86 million outfitting deal with Under Armour. Under its old deals with Nike and IMG College, Cal Athletics operated with a $20 million deficit, but the new partnerships will bring in $8 million more annually. Both the Under Armour and Learfield partnerships are set to begin July 1, 2017.

Though IMG College’s operations with Cal Athletics — such as the arrangement of sponsorship opportunities in Memorial Stadium and Haas Pavilion — will continue for the remainder of the fiscal year, Learfield has purchased the remainder of IMG College’s commitment with Cal Athletics.

“IMG is still there, and we’re actually in contact with IMG about how we transition the property,” said Bob Agramonte, Learfield’s chief business development officer. “We both want what’s best for Cal, so we’re starting to do that already.”

According to Agramonte, Learfield, which handles the multimedia rights for 120 conferences, arenas and universities, plans to implement strategies beyond the scope of traditional marketing and sponsorship deals, such as more expansive, far-reaching partnerships with Bay Area and regional companies. Mulford will be the campus point person for such plans.

“What we’re talking about doing is basically becoming a partner with Cal on some media and marketing exposure,” Agramonte said. “We’re talking about doing something on a bigger scale with strategic partners that extend beyond traditional sponsorships.”

Hooman Yazdanian is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @hoomanyazdanian

OCTOBER 05, 2016