PLANO, Texas – Learfield Sports announced today that it has acquired Strategic Marketing Affiliates (SMA), expanding its licensing, merchandising and brand marketing services within its portfolio of college businesses.
“Bob Bernard founded SMA in 1997 and the reputation of his company reflects his own personal reputation,” said Learfield President and CEO Greg Brown. “He is one of the most respected individuals in college athletics and so is his company. He has been a great partner of ours for years, and we are thrilled his company is now a part of our organization.”
Indianapolis-based SMA has 20 employees, and Learfield will be combining SMA with its licensing division, Licensing Resource Group (LRG).
“We have a great team of people, and we are thrilled to now be joining Learfield,” said Bernard. “We’ve worked hard over the years to build valuable relationships in the college marketplace, and as a long-time partner of Learfield, I already know the team well and have great confidence in the company’s ability to help us grow in our capabilities in the coming years. Learfield has a stellar reputation, and we are excited about this new chapter of growth for SMA.”
SMA primarily provides schools with a suite of licensing services, including trademark and brand management and consulting. “We are looking forward to working with the SMA and LRG teams to combine our operations and expand the services we provide our partner schools,” Brown said.
As the LRG and SMA organizations are merged, no job reductions are expected. Lewis Hardy, currently CEO of LRG, will become Chairman of the combined group and Bernard will serve as CEO. These two gentlemen will report to Learfield COO Marc Jenkins. The licensing services division of the company is a part of a group of other Learfield businesses that are complimentary to its collegiate multimedia rights enterprise. That group includes ticket sales, concessions and hospitality and the digital platform, SIDEARM Sports.
“We will continue SMA’s record of personalized service,” added Brown. “Those expectations are in perfect alignment with Learfield’s approach to doing business and serving our university partners.”
Strategic Marketing Affiliates (“SMA”) is a full service licensing organization founded in 1997 and based in Indianapolis, IN. SMA represents more than 347 colleges, universities, conferences and associations throughout North America. It manages the trademark licensing program for these institutions, and provides them with access to SMA’s brand development, protection and revenue generation services. The SMA team combines extensive licensing and marketing experience with an innovative and forward-thinking attitude and has established itself as a leader in the arena of collegiate licensing. The 17-year-old agency is the fastest growing collegiate licensing agency in the U.S., with representatives in Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas. For more information regarding SMA, please visit www.smaworks.com.
In its four decades, Learfield has developed trusted, long-term relationships with some of the most revered institutions and associations in the world of collegiate athletics. Learfield Sports manages the exclusive multimedia rights to nearly 100 collegiate properties in the country and has prominence in all of the major conferences. Learfield’s rights encompass all athletic department media and sponsorships components, including stadium signage and numerous content distribution platforms. Those platforms deliver the passion of college athletics over radio, television and digital networks to fans globally. This marks the seventh consecutive year for the company to title the prestigious Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup. To learn more, visit www.learfieldsports.com.