Calipari highly marketable

Gillispie did OK, but sponsors weren't lining up

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comApril 1, 2009 

John Calipari would be highly marketable, said the managing director of IMG College, which has the sports-marketing contract with the University of Kentucky.

"He's a nationally known coach with a great record and a marketable personality," said Tom Stultz, senior vice president of IMG College. "I think he would be a great spokesperson for a lot of companies here. "

In an agreement signed in 2004 that structured one of the largest media deals in the country, IMG College pays UK about $8 million a year for the rights to broadcast UK's games and to handle radio and television appearances and endorsements by its coaches, among other things.

Under the "memorandum of understanding" that Billy Gillispie signed with UK, he received $1.9 million out of the $8 million annually for appearing on radio and TV shows and making endorsements. That amount escalated by $50,000 each year.

Under the deal with IMG, Gillispie made endorsements for Paul Miller Ford/Mazda, Central Bank, the Kentucky Department of Transportation, Kroger, Nurses Registry, UK HealthCare, Sal's Chop House/Malone's and Windstream, said Stultz.

"When Billy worked with the sponsors, he did what he had to do and did it OK," said Stultz.

But Stultz said that local companies weren't vying for the opportunity to be a sponsor or receive an endorsement from Gillispie.

"I don't know if it was him or the team's performance or even the economy. There was not the appetite or the pressure building for more people to step in and secure endorsements and sponsorships," said Stultz.

He said a winning team and a well-received coach would inevitably draw sponsors.

"We would anticipate that a hire of an individual that captures the fascination of the hearts and minds of the Kentucky fan base would be very marketable," said Stultz. "If that's the case, we would certainly hope that we could increase our revenues and be able to share some of those revenues with the University of Kentucky."

Under IMG's contract, UK shares in IMG's profits after the revenues reach a certain threshold.

"There is certainly an appetite for somebody who is very marketable," Stultz said, "and has a passion for Kentucky and really wants to be here and can return some of the swagger."

Reach Valarie Honeycutt Spears at (859) 231-3409 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3409.

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