NORMAL, Ill. – Learfield announced today its local team solely dedicated to representing one of the collegiate marketer’s newest university partners, Illinois State. The Learfield partnership introduced in April is a first-of-its-kind for the university as the Redbirds outsource its comprehensive multimedia rights for the next 10 years.
Larry Hoepfner, a seasoned sports marketing and sales executive with nearly 30 years of experience, will serve as general manager for Learfield’s locally based Redbird Sports Properties team. Hoepfner has relocated from Columbus, Ohio, where he served 11 years as executive vice president, business operations for the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. Prior to that, he spent nearly four years with FOX Sports Florida as vice president, sales/general sales manager. He also was the net’s vice president of affiliate sales and marketing for four years. Hoepfner’s previous expertise includes holding senior-level marketing and sales roles for MediaOne/Continental Cablevision as well. He holds an undergraduate degree from Miami University (Ohio) and an MBA from the University of Miami (Fla.).
Joining Hoepfner at Learfield’s Redbird Sports Properties – which now manages all aspects of the Redbirds’ rights including signage, digital, television and radio play-by-play and coaches’ shows – is Manager-Business Development Ryan Randall. A University of Northern Iowa graduate, Randall has been with Learfield more than three years. Most recently he was the coordinator-sales operations for Learfield’s Panther Sports Properties team representing Randall’s alma mater.
“We are very excited about Larry and Ryan taking the reins of Redbird Sports Properties in the first year,” Illinois State Director of Athletics Larry Lyons said. “We think they will be a great fit in our department and in our community. We look forward to assisting with moving Redbird Sports Properties forward.”
“It’s good to be supporting the Redbirds and helping them extend their brand over the next 10 years,” said Learfield Director Brittany Oligschlaeger, who oversees the company’s Missouri Valley Conference relationship. “Without a doubt, Larry is poised to come in and team well with the athletic administration, the community and our corporate partners given his depth and experience within sports, sales and marketing, and relationship building. Ryan is talented, brings great experience from UNI, and knows the ins and outs of Learfield, so they will complement each other as we set out to accomplish great things with ISU.”
According to Hoepfner, “My family and I are thrilled to be joining the Redbird family. I’m very pleased and proud to be part of the team representing two great organization in Learfield and Illinois State University.”
In addition to the Redbirds, Learfield represents seven members of the Missouri Valley Conference or Missouri Valley Football Conference. In addition to serving as rights partner to the MVC on a league-wide level, Learfield holds individual rights agreements with Bradley University, Missouri State, Northern Iowa, South Dakota, South Dakota State and Southern Illinois. Within the state of Illinois, Learfield has rights partnerships with University of Illinois, Northern Illinois University, Northwestern University and the Big Ten Conference.
An industry leader for more than four decades, Learfield has a deep presence in the college athletics landscape nationwide managing nearly 130 collegiate relationships across the country. It also supports athletic departments at all competitive levels as title sponsor of the prestigious Learfield Directors’ Cup. Learfield also provides its collegiate partners access to professional concessions and ticket sales; branding, licensing and trademark consulting; digital and social platform expertise; campus-wide business and sponsorship development; and venue and technology systems through its affiliated companies.