(from Sports Business Journal, April 22, 2013) IMG College will no longer be selling NCAA sponsorships. Since 2008, when the contract began, IMG College has sold at least five corporate champion or partner deals. Turner and CBS, rights holders for the NCAA, manage the sponsorship program, but have had a deal with IMG College for the last five years, allowing IMG to sell those sponsorships.
These industry giants’ arrangement ended earlier this year, meaning the NCAA Final Four in Atlanta was the first championship since IMG entered the collegiate ranks that it wasn’t selling sponsorships.
IMG College’s sales efforts led to a corporate champion deal, the highest level of NCAA sponsorship, with Capital one; Hershey, UPS, LG, and Kraft also landed deals through IMG College as corporate partners. There were nine total partners and champions when IMG College began selling sponsorships; since then, IMG has elevated that number to 15 combined partners and champions. Industry insiders believe the arrangement with IMG College ended because CBS and Turner believe they can effectively sell NCAA sponsorships, however, neither side would officially say.
CBS and Turner hold the rights to sponsorships through their 14-year, $10.8 billion media contract with the NCAA. Sources have said IMG College focus on selling its own inventory, versus selling someone else’s. With IMG College also selling national sponsorships over its more than 80 properties, this could be seen as competition to the NCAA’s sponsorship sales.
The loss of sponsorship sales continues a recent trend of diminishing NCAA business for IMG College. At one point, IMG College managed ancillary events for the NCAA, including concerts and festivals for its championships. These events, along with publications and licensing agreements, gave IMG College a strong business relationship with the NCAA. However, Turner took away the ancillary events from IMG College, starting with the 2012 Final Four.