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History. Growth. Evolution. Future.
2019 paved a new course of history for two companies that shared deep roots respectively in the collegiate athletics landscape. A new company, Learfield IMG College, was established following the merger of Learfield and IMG College on Dec. 31, 2018.
Learfield’s rich history dates back to 1972, when Learfield Communications, Inc. started as a farm radio network heard over six Missouri radio stations – under its original name, Missouri Network, Inc. by co-founders Clyde Lear and Derry Brownfield. Three years later marked the company’s first foray into sports as the radio rights distributor for the University of Missouri, a partner still today.
The continued evolution of Learfield ultimately was attributed to a robust, strategic growth plan in 2011 that brought majority ownership investments from private equity firms. The Atairos Group has directed the company’s future growth since 2016, ensuring continued collaborations in all facets of the corporate structure to better serve business and collegiate partners.
In a historical look back, IMG College was formed through the consolidation of several innovative companies. Host Communications pioneered the collegiate multimedia business in 1974 with a network radio contract with the University of Kentucky, and representation of the NCAA in 1976. In 2007, IMG Worldwide acquired Host Communications and The Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC). Winston-Salem-based ISP had also recognized success by local entrepreneur and Wake Forest alum Ben Sutton. He naturally launched ISP by representing his alma mater’s athletic multimedia rights, then continued growing the business with other college and conference relationships. In 2010, ISP merged into IMG’s fast-growing college division. In 2014, WME acquired IMG and is now known as Endeavor.
Learfield IMG College is led by President and CEO Cole Gahagan.