Deal with FOX nets $150M for MSU athletics

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
The new deal with FOX will add about $150 million to MSU athletics over the next 15 years.

East Lansing -- Michigan State announced on Thursday it has entered into a long-term multimedia rights partnership with FOX Sports that begins in the 2016-17 academic year and will grant FOX Sports marketing and corporate partnership rights associated with the university’s 25 varsity sports programs.

The rights will be managed by FOX Sports College Properties, a division of FOX-owned Home Team Sports, and will take care of ad sales for print, radio and television programming as well as in-venue signage, corporate hospitality, digital and social media integration, promotional and activities and intellectual property rights.

The 15-year agreement will provide guaranteed revenues for Michigan State in excess of $150 million. Other details of the contract were not released.

Michigan State was the last school within the Power Five to manage its rights in-house and a multimedia deal has been in the works for some time. Some of Michigan State’s current staff will be integrated into positions with FOX while additional staffing will be provided by FOX.

Auburn, Georgetown, Southern California and Villanova are among the other schools that have marketing rights owned by FOX.

“Now is the right time and FOX Sports is the right partner for Michigan State,” Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said. “FOX Sports can focus on building the Michigan State brand and leverage synergies with the FOX Sports family of networks, including FOX Sports Detroit and BTN.

“The increased revenue will help Michigan State address the growing expenditures related to enhancing the student-athlete experience, including scholarships, cost of attendance, academic support, team travel, athletic training and medical services.”

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The move will allow Michigan State to maintain and grow existing relationships with current sponsors while pursuing new opportunities with local, regional and national brands.

“Our commitment to relationships and doing things the Spartan way is a major factor in our success,” said Paul Schager, Executive Associate Athletics Director for External Operations. “The entire FOX Sports staff shares this commitment, and we look forward to working together for many years to come.”

The Spartan Sports Network will work with FOX Sports to continue to handle production of live radio broadcasts, coaches’ shows and ancillary programming. The Spartan Sports Network has provided radio programming and managed the radio network comprised of more than 35 affiliate radio stations since the 2000-01 seasons.

The network would continue to be in charge of all broadcast productions and on-air talent.

“We’re excited about it here and think it will be a really good thing,” said Will Tieman, owner of the Spartan Sports Network and play-by-play announcer for men’s basketball. “In many ways it will be business as usual and I think that is a good thing.”

The announcement comes just days after the Sports Business Daily reported the Big Ten is close to agreeing to a six-year deal with Fox Sports for half its television rights that would pay about $250 million per year.

Fox Sports is a majority owner and operator of the Big Ten Network.