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Gators, Sun Sports reach marketing rights deal

GAINESVILLE — Florida and Sun Sports have agreed to a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal that will give Sun Sports comprehensive rights to the Gators' marketing and media operations, including radio, television, corporate sponsorships and the Internet site GatorZone.com.

Florida and Sun Sports have been in partnership via its local television rights since 1996, but this represents a broad expansion into the Gators' marketing arm, a venture many big schools are now entering.

The 10-year agreement is worth about $82-million. Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley and Mike Hill, associate athletics director for external affairs, are both on vacation and could not be reached for comment. Cathy Weeden, senior vice president/general manager of Sun Sports and FSN Florida, would not disclose financial terms of the agreement.

"We've had a very good, strong relationship with Florida and this is something we've been talking with them about for some time," Weeden said. "Through the years we have looked for ways to enhance it, and we were able to do that by aggregating the radio signage, Internet, television and corporate partnership rights."

Previously, Sun Sports held the local television rights, while Clear Channel had radio rights and the athletic department individually handled the marketing and corporate sponsorships in its stadiums and arenas. Now it will be a collective venture operated by Sun Sports.

The deal is not expected to affect any negotiations by the SEC for its own league network. Sun Sports will continue to have rights to UF's tape-delayed football games, men's and women's basketball and Olympic sports competitions.

"The television portion of the agreement is similar to what we've had for many years and doesn't change anything with the SEC as it relates to its study of leaguewide television opportunities," Weeden said.

Antonya English can be reached at english@sptimes.com.

Gators, Sun Sports reach marketing rights deal 07/14/08 [Last modified: Monday, July 14, 2008 10:02pm]

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