By MARK MAYNARD
LEXINGTON — There’s a local twist to the University of Kentucky’s gigantic announcement of a 15-year, $210 multimedia agreement with JMI Sports.
Tom Stultz, a Greenup native who has brokered some of the biggest deals in collegiate sports in his career in communications, happens to be the president of JMI Sports.
“We are thrilled to begin a partnership with the University of Kentucky that will utilize much of our expertise, including producing and distributing quality sports content, selling and fulfilling innovative corporate partnerships, developing unique campus sponsorship programs, and delivering stadium financing and project management services,” Stultz said. “This contract enables JMI Sports to become established as a full-service provider of the highest quality university and sponsor centered services. And, knowing from personal experience how terrific UK's administration, coaches, staff and fans are as partners, we could not be more excited for what the future holds."
Stultz understands the passion that comes from the fans of UK sports and knows the value of that in the big picture.
“As I said, this brand is a local, regional and national brand, and its coaches are well known,” Stultz said. “They’re well established. There’s opportunities to look at their endorsements in different ways. There's opportunities to look at the media in different ways and to create content that engages the fans and doesn't take anything away from the outstanding job that I know ESPN and the SEC Network will do.”
Everybody seemed pleased with what transpired with JMI Sports.
“This partnership reflects the fact that the University of Kentucky is a national brand with the largest and most loyal fan base in all of intercollegiate athletics,” UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. “The size of this partnership - and our partnership with an emerging force in college sports in JMI Sports - will enable us to maintain and grow as one of the country's few financially self-sustaining programs, allowing us to continue to provide incredible educational opportunities to more than 450 young men and women as well as continue to partner with the university in unique and distinctive ways.”
“It is critically important that our athletic program remain not only financially self-sustaining, but is also positioned to continue to be an aggressive partner in our academic efforts,” University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto said. “Nowhere else in the country is an athletics program more essential to building a thriving public, residential, research university. This partnership with JMI Sports helps ensure those contributions are strengthened.”
Last year, Capilouto and Barnhart announced the UK athletics department was paying for $65 million of a more than $100 million Academic Science Building - an unprecedented partnership between academics and athletics in American higher education.
JMI Sports is an innovator in sales, marketing, and project management services to universities and professional teams. Kentucky will be JMI Sports' first client for which it will serve as its multimedia rights holder, but its leadership has substantial experience in sports business.
The company was founded in 2006 by developer and philanthropist John Moores and Chief Executive Officer Erik Judson. Moores is the former owner and chairman of the San Diego Padres and Judson has experience managing major sports development projects, including the Padres’ Petco Park and the University of Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena. Stultz formerly served as senior vice president and managing director of IMG College’s multimedia rights business.
“We are delighted to be partnering with the University of Kentucky,” Moores said. “Erik, Tom and I would like to thank President Capilouto, Mitch Barnhart and the entire UK administration for the confidence they have placed in JMI Sports. We are enthusiastic supporters of higher education, recognizing the many important roles these institutions play in our society. We look forward to working with UK to build the most innovative and successful multi-media venture in the country."
JMI Sports’ college clients include the Southeastern Conference, Alabama, North Carolina, Oregon, Auburn, Colorado, Duke, Syracuse and many more.
“We are very impressed with JMI Sports and excited to begin working with them,” Barnhart said. “Their work with many of our peers in college athletics and the experience of their team will make them an excellent long-term partner for UK Athletics and a valued part of the Big Blue Nation.”
UK will receive a guaranteed rights fee in each of the 15 years of the contract, starting at $9.1 million in 2015-16 and increasing to $16 million in 2029-30. The agreement also includes a $29.4 million signing bonus to be paid over the first two years of the contract. The signing bonus will help the university fund important capital projects.
Many friends of Stultz from Greenup were blowing up his Facebook page after the announcement was made on Monday morning.
He was in Ashland over the weekend to celebrate Don Gullett for his Sports Day recognition. Tom’s brother, Dave, was the speaker on Saturday.
Stultz graduated from Greenup High School where he was an outstanding baseball player that earned a scholarship to Miami of Ohio, where he played with Mike Schmidt.
Stultz began his career as a reporter with the Ashland Daily Independent in 1970 and he went on to own several newspaper publications. He has more than 40 years professional executive experience and has led public and private companies to record revenue and profit growth.
He has negotiated and secured more than $1.1 billion in multimedia and sponsorship rights with major universities.
Prior to joining JMI Sports in 2012, Stultz was senior vice president and managing director of IMG College’s multimedia rights business. Previously serving as president and chief executive officer of Host Communications, Stultz was instrumental in adding many top national collegiate properties, strengthening the company’s financial position before it was acquired by IMG in 2007.
Stultz and his wife, Pat, have two grown daughters and six grandchildren.
MARK MAYNARD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2648.
The JMI Sports deal includes: