UMaine awards multi-media rights to Learfield

This story was published on March 31, 2006 on Page C5 in all editions of the Bangor Daily News

ORONO – The University of Maine is no longer directly involved in the athletic corporate sponsorship business, thanks to a six-year deal with Learfield Communications Inc.

The agreement turns the responsibility of selling advertising signage in UMaine’s athletic arenas to Learfield, which guarantees UMaine a certain income figure from corporate ad sales. When sales revenue reaches a certain point above that guaranteed figure, UMaine will also receive a percentage of those sales.

“It’s a great opportunity for us,” said UMaine interim athletic director Blake James. “In basic terms, we’re going to outsource that area [corporate sales].”

The agreement means UMaine will dissolve its corporate sales department, although two or three current UM employees in that department will be working for Learfield. Former UM director of corporate sales Mike McCollum has already started working for Learfield.

Learfield Sports, based in Jefferson City, Mo., is a 34-year-old multi-media rights management company working with many of America’s collegiate programs.

UMaine is the 26th college institution Learfield has entered into partnership with. Others include Oregon State, Washington, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Georgia, Miami, North Carolina, Penn State, Indiana, and Texas A&M.

“I think it’s a good list for us to be associated with, both academically and athletically,” said James. “It helps us stay on the road of continuing to grow our program and what we can do in terms of generating revenues to provide the necessary resources we need to be successful.”

Learfield is now responsible for the overall management of the university’s athletic corporate partnership effort, which includes corporate sponsorship sales, print advertising in various athletic department publications, signage in university athletic facilities, game sponsorships, and corporate hospitality events, as well as overall consulting and management with the entire athletic media rights package.

The agreement becomes effective with the start of the fall football season.