On Monday, the University of Kentucky solidified its place as one of the most valuable athletic departments in the country with a new 15-year, $210 million dollar multimedia rights contract with JMI sports.
"First and foremost, we want to have a network that our fans can absolutely stay in contact with University of Kentucky athletic teams," said UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart. "The successes that we have, the things we are doing."
UK's current 10-year, $80 million dollar media agreement with IMG Sports is set to expire in April of 2015, an agreement that included television rights, however with the new SEC Network set to launch in August, the JMI agreement will focus on engaging fans in many other ways.
"The way fans gather and access information has changed," said President of JMI Sports Tom Stultz. "What we tried to do with our proposal is be as creative as possible to throw out a lot of new ideas that we can work with our partners and to find ways to engage the fans to make their experience better."
Included in the agreement is a $29.4 million dollar signing bonus from JMI Sports, that could help with current and future on-campus facility renovations. Barnhart confirmed the plans of a new baseball stadium located near the new softball/soccer complex, but stressed that this agreement has nothing to do with Rupp Arena.
"This is about how we best serve the Big Blue Nation, how we best serve our fan base, and then those other things take care of themselves over time," said Barnhart. "We'll figure that out. We'll work our way through those pieces. This is about multimedia rights, and people don't need to read more into than that."
The agreement with UK is JMI's first multimedia rights deal with a university, but its partners blend together years of experience in both professional sports and higher education.
Erik Judson/CEO JMI Sports "I think our experience is more than enough of a foundation, but I think our perspective is what is going to grow the business, and the approach we are going to take is going to have flagship in Kentucky. Our greatest expectation is that this partnership with great people and great partners is going to flourish."