The University of New Mexico is one step closer to replacing its $4.4 million media-rights contract to broadcast games and images. However, the new contract's value, along with when it can be signed, remain unclear.
On Tuesday, the Board of Regents Finances and Facilities Committee approved an agreement between the University and Outfront Media Sports, Inc. to hold the Athletics Department’s media rights . However, F&F committee chair Sandra Begay said the contract may have to be voted on at the full Board next month.
According to UNM Athletics Director Eddie Nuñez, the details of the contract are still being drafted. If the contract was not written up before the August 13 meeting, Begay and Nuñez said it would likely be voted on during the September 17 meeting. Nuñez said that UNM may end up using a temporary “bridge” contract while the Outfront deal is finalized and approved, but he declined to give specific details about what that might look like.
“I’m not a lawyer,” Nuñez said when asked if it was possible for the contract to be finalized next week. “I will say we are aggressively doing everything we can to get this done,” he added.
Nuñez did tell reporters that the Outfront contract would be a “profit share,” which means Outfront and UNM would share the profits generated by UNM Athletics, but said nothing else about how this contract might look.
“I’m gonna hold off on my expectations, I think it’s been misrepresented already in the community and the fact is we’re excited to have (Outfront) as partners,” Nuñez said when asked about the contract by reporters.
The decision to approve the deal was made during a thirty-minute closed session where members of the public — including journalists — are not allowed in the room, which is common practice when discussing contract negotiations.
Outfront was one of five companies that bid for Athletic’s media rights. According to the F&F e-book, Learfield Communications (the current contract recipient), JMI Sports, National Advertising Partners, Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment all also responded to the UNM call for a new media-rights holder. Nuñez said UNM narrowed their choices to three, including Outfront, but declined to name the other two at the time this report was published.
Nuñez did not say how much the contract would be worth to UNM, but the UNM-Learfield contract was worth $4,456,500 according to an analysis of the Athletics Department conducted by the UNM Athletics Budget Task Force.
Outfront also represents Louisiana State University (Nuñez’s previous employer), University of Maryland, Wichita State University, the University of Virginia, along with five other university sports programs.
Additionally, Outfront represents the New Mexico Activities Association, a New Mexico High School sports conglomerate that defines its purpose as “the regulation, direction, administration and supervision of interscholastic activities in the State of New Mexico,” according to the NMAA website.
Nuñez cited his experience with Outfront at LSU and Outfront’s New Mexico connection as some of the reasons UNM should award the contract to Outfront over the other four companies.
Justin Garcia is the editor in chief of the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @Just516garc.