Evanston, IL (March 24, 2011) – Northwestern University Athletics is in the process of transitioning to Learfield Sports as its exclusive multimedia rights holder for the next 10 years as announced today by Jim Phillips, Northwestern’s director of athletics and recreation.

The announcement signifies the start of a brand-new rights relationship for Northwestern with a 40-year industry leader that already holds rights to six other Big Ten Conference member institutions — Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin. Aside from the campus-level rights relationships Learfield Sports has with these schools, the company also manages the sponsorship rights of the Big Ten Conference and develops corporate partnerships with the conference.

Learfield Sports’ Chicago-based Northwestern Sports Properties entity will handle all aspects of Northwestern’s comprehensive rights including signage, sponsorship, corporate hospitality, event marketing, radio and television coaches’ shows and official athletic website advertising.

“This is a big day for all of us associated with Northwestern Athletics,” said Phillips. “We are truly looking forward to working with Learfield Sports. After an extensive process, we are confident we have selected the very best multimedia rights partner for the Northwestern Wildcats moving forward. Very directly, we are excited about beginning a 10-year relationship with this truly professional, respected and trusted organization.”

Bob Welch, formerly with Chicagoland Speedway, has joined Northwestern Sports Properties to serve as general manager of the four-person staff following a six-year stint as senior director of marketing, sales and public relations for the Speedway and its parent, International Speedway Corporation.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to represent a storied institution such as Northwestern,” said Greg Brown, Learfield Sports’ president and chief executive officer. “Jim Phillips should be commended for the fine program he’s already established, and we look forward to helping Northwestern move the needle even further. And the guidance from Senior Associate Athletic Director Mike Polisky will put us in an excellent position to get going quickly and represent Northwestern Athletics in the marketplace.”

Learfield Sports, which manages the multimedia and sponsorship rights for more than 50 collegiate institutions, conferences and associations, titles the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup in conjunction with award co-founders NACDA and USA Today.

Additionally, it is the operating unit of Learfield Communications, Inc., which first partnered with The University of Missouri in 1975. For more information about its history and comprehensive collegiate portfolio, visit learfieldsports.com.