Our History



Pioneering Innovation for Nearly 50 years

Learfield’s rich history dates back to 1972, when co-founders Clyde Lear and Derry Brownfield started a farm radio network heard over six Missouri radio stations. Three years later marked the company’s first foray into sports as the radio rights distributor for the University of Missouri, who is still a partner today. In parallel, Host Communications pioneered the collegiate multimedia business in 1974 with a network radio contract with the University of Kentucky, adding NCAA representation in 1976. In 2007, IMG Worldwide acquired Host Communications and The Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC). Winston-Salem-based ISP was founded by local entrepreneur and Wake Forest alum, Ben Sutton. Starting with his alma mater they 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 (now Endeavor), the same year Learfield acquired SIDEARM Sports, the leading digital platform provide for college athletic programs. In 2015, Learfield acquired a controlling interest in ANC Sports Enterprises bringing digital signage capabilities. In 2016, the branding agency, SME, was added. In 2017, the portfolio expanded further when Learfield acquired Paciolan, the leading provider of ticketing software and solutions in college athletics, and Mogo Interactive, an integrated digital marketing firm. In 2018, Learfield Communications and IMG College merged to form the leader in multimedia rights and related services.

The company has continued to evolve adding esports tournaments, strategic partnerships with venues and sports organizations, and relationships that bring enhanced services to colleges and universities and new opportunities to brands.