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Learfield IMG College Raises $242 Million

Learfield now has access to $425 million in capital as they forge ahead to a more normal college sports climate this fall.

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Learfield IMG College just got a new influx of cash from their existing investors. According to Sportico, The dominant college sports broadcasting platform received $242 million in new investments from Endeavor, Silver Lake, and Atairos.

All three of those firms have been staunch supporters of the broadcast group. The move also helped Learfield extend the maturity date of $183 million in existing loans scheduled to be paid off this year to 2023.

“While the college sports community has navigated dynamic challenges, we have continued to lean in to unlock new value for our university partners and brand partners alike,” Learfield IMG College CEO Cole Gahagan said in a statement. “We now have the deepest and broadest platform that includes digital sponsorships, contactless mobile ticketing, governance for NIL, esports, content, and industry collaborations, with the necessary fan data and analytics to help school partners grow their entire athletics departments.”

This was perfect timing for Learfield after the pandemic threw their business model in flux, with games canceled left and right across college sports. Learfield now has access to $425 million in capital as they forge ahead to a more normal college sports climate this fall.

About a month ago, Sportico uncovered the net profit Learfield brings in from Georgia, Nebraska, Michigan, Kansas, Houston, Georgia Tech, Marshall, and UCLA.

Georgia was far and away the most profitable partner for Learfield in the pandemic year of 2019-20. The Bulldogs produced $7.4 million in profit for the network. The low positive number came from Marshall, who produced $492,000 in profit.

The only school on the list that didn’t make Learfield money was UCLA. The Bruins lost Learfield $933,000 in 2018-19 and $1.7 million in 2019-20. Conferences around the country expect to allow more fans into sporting events this year as Learfield prepares to bring all the action to those not lucky enough to be there in person.

Sports Radio News

Doug Franz Launching Sports Betting Podcast, ‘Props Arizona,’ With Sean Lockhart

“I appreciate Doug & Wolf listeners more than they’ll ever know, and I’m excited for them to experience my new podcast Props Arizona.”

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Following his dismissal from Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, Doug Franz has found a new gig. Franz will join sports gambling expert Sean “Papa Bear” Lockhart to host a new podcast for Props.com titled Props Arizona.

Franz was a mainstay on Phoenix sports talk radio, co-hosting The Doug and Wolf Show in the market for 15 years. Parent company Bonneville Phoenix said Franz would be moved to a “digital role” in shuffling the Arizona Sports daily lineup last August.

But Franz said he was effectively fired. Soon after leaving 98.7 FM, he launched a daily podcast titled Doug Franz Unplugged.

Lockhart has been a mainstay in Arizona, consulting on sports betting and sales since graduating from Arizona State. He’s provided analysis for several sports betting podcasts and digital shows, in addition to his own website, for several years.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work alongside Sean on this new podcast,” said Franz in the official announcement from gambling media company American Affiliate. “I appreciate Doug & Wolf listeners more than they’ll ever know, and I’m excited for them to experience my new podcast Props Arizona.”

For American Affiliate, which has several sports betting and investment properties in its portfolio including BetPrep and Wagers, Props Arizona is the first regional (or state-exclusive) spinoff of its Props City podcast.

Props Arizona is set to launch at the end of January. The show will be available on all major podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts and Spotify. A teaser for the show is currently online for download.

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Sports Radio News

Michael Irvin: ‘Shan & RJ Start National Conversations’

“Y’all stir the pot a lot on the national scene. Every time I’m out there I gotta hear ‘Jerry said on Shan and RJ 105.3’.”

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Michael Irvin makes regular appearances on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. He is one of the many stars associated with the Dallas Cowboys that make time to talk to the hosts on the team’s flagship station. On Thursday morning, The Playmaker joined Shan & RJ and told them to be careful with the words they choose.

Irvin came on following a discussion of Mike McCarthy’s final conversation with the media for the season. During the segment, one of the host’s said it was the Cowboys’ coach’s “final conversation.” Irvin said that statement needed some clarity.

“You should have added ‘of this year’,” he said. “Because the national guys, they’ll pick it up and run with that.”

It isn’t just a matter of what was said. Michael Irvin says that the national media will pay attention to who said it was McCarthy’s final conversation with the media and jump to conclusions.

“Y’all stir the pot a lot on the national scene. Every time I’m out there I gotta hear ‘Jerry said on Shan and RJ 105.3’.”

The hosts laughed as Irvin made the declaration. Maybe they enjoyed the characterization. Maybe they knew he was telling the truth.

Plenty of national headlines have been generated by appearances from Jerry and Stephen Jones on the station. Although, to be fair to Shan & RJ, K&C Masterpiece has been at the center of plenty of those conversations too.

That didn’t stop Michael Irvin distilling Shan & RJ’s role in the national media conversation about the Cowboys to a simple sentence: “Y’all starting mess out here.”

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Sports Radio News

Jeff Rickard Out At WEEI

“In the memo, new Audacy Boston market manager Mike Thomas says that the station will be naming a new brand manager in the future.”

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Jeff Rickard’s tenure in Boston did not last long. Chad Finn of the Boston Globe tweeted yesterday that the WEEI brand manager has left Audacy and intends to return to Indianapolis.

Rickard was announced as the new brand manager of the legendary Boston sports talker in August. He left his role as morning show host and PD at The Fan in Indianapolis at that time.

In the memo, new Audacy Boston market manager Mike Thomas says that the station will be naming a new brand manager in the future.

In the meantime, Ken Laird has been promoted to operations manager for the station. Laird announced yesterday that this means he is leaving the Greg Hill Show, which will be on the lookout for a new producer.

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