Plano Collegiate Sports Marketer LEARFIELD Closes $600M Recapitalization and $150M Equity Investment

LEARFIELD has ties to over 1,200 collegiate institutions and over 15,000 local and national brand partners, the company said. Its partnerships include North Texas universities SMU, TCU, and UNT as well as the University of Texas, Texas A&M, and other Texas schools.

Plano-based LEARFIELD, a leading media and technology company powering college athletics, has closed on a comprehensive recapitalization with its lenders and equity partners, reducing its outstanding debt by more than $600 million and securing $150 million in new equity investment, the company announced last week.

LEARFIELD has ties to over 1,200 collegiate institutions and over 15,000 local and national brand partners, the company said. Its partnerships include North Texas universities SMU, TCU, and UNT as well as the University of Texas, Texas A&M, and other Texas schools. You can see the full partnership list by going here.

The company said the financial moves strengthened its financial position and provide additional capital to fuel innovation and growth across its five operating divisions, LEARFIELD Amplify; CLC; Paciolan; SIDEARM Sports; and its core multimedia rights business.

“This is a seminal moment for the LEARFIELD team, and we’re thrilled for what lies ahead—both for our company, as well as for the thousands of partners we serve,” Cole Gahagan, LEARFIELD’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “Over the last several years, LEARFIELD has been a leader in innovation and growth throughout the college sports and entertainment industries, and this reboot of our capital structure only positions us for even greater success in the years to come. We’re just getting started.”

New majority ownership

Under the deal, LEARFIELD’s majority ownership is now composed of its lead capital providers, including Clearlake Capital Group LP (together with its affiliates, Clearlake), Charlesbank Capital Partners, and funds managed by affiliates of Fortress Investment Group LLC.

The company said its prior equity holders will retain an equity stake.

LEARFIELD said the transaction is the latest “transformative initiative” it has implemented to evolve media and technology in college athletics and position partners for growth.

In recent years, LEARFIELD has introduced numerous solutions to the sports and entertainment industries, including Fanbase, a leading data infrastructure platform for college athletics; LEARFIELD Allied, a name, image & likeness (NIL) program that helps brands leverage school IP in student-athlete deals; and LEARFIELD Studios, a growing media and content production group in college sports.

“We’re excited to work with Cole and the LEARFIELD leadership team and support their strategic vision,” Clearlake Partner and Managing Director James Pade said in a statement. “We believe that this transaction, Clearlake’s O.P.S. resources, and the new capital provided will advance LEARFIELD’s position in college athletics and fuel the Company’s ability to create opportunities for schools and brands to build new communities and experiences for college sports fans.”

Fortress Managing Director Leslee Cowen said that the LEARFIELD team has developed a leadership position in college athletics, with a growing portfolio of solutions for colleges, universities and brand partners.

“This transaction positions the company to build further on its success to date, bringing new technologies and innovative solutions to a market and fanbase that they understand deeply,” Cowen said in a statement.

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