ASHLAND — Here’s a fact to chew on: The marriage between JMI Sports and the University of Kentucky athletic department consummated on Monday would never have happened without a certain Greenup native named Tom Stultz.
That may seem like a mouthful, but it’s the absolute truth.
UK had worked previously with Stultz, the former Greenup High catcher who achieved to the highest degree in his professional career as a marketing executive. They loved the relationship that benefitted both the University and the firms where Stultz has worked during his career as a marketing giant.
Let me say this: Tom Stultz is a big deal.
And let me add this: You’d never know it.
I spoke with Tom on Saturday at the Elks Sports Day banquet honoring Don Gullett, who Tom faced on numerous occasions in his high school career, and he was the same person he always has been to me.
Tom Stultz has never changed. He’s still an affable, friendly person who is loyal to those who are loyal to him.
Which brings us back to UK and the spectacular 15-year, $210 million agreement that was announced on Monday morning.
JMI did itself a favor back in Feburary 2012 when it hired Stultz away from Lexington-based IMG College to run its Capital and Media Division.
Kentucky’s current 10-year, $80.5 million agreement with IMG expires next April. When it was signed, it was the richest college sports marketing agreement in history.
Guess who was in the middle of that deal?
While UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart expressed confidence in all of the company’s leaders, he clearly had a warm place for Stultz.
“Tom clearly has been a very close friend of this University for a long time,” Barnhart said. “And he is just a little bit of a Big Blue fan, so we know we’ve got a little bit of blue in here, and that’s a really cool deal for us. We’re so excited that he is back with us and working with us through JMI and the partnership that we’ve created here today.”