Learfield IMG College President/CEO Greg Brown To Retire; Cole Gahagan Appointed as Replacement
Learfield IMG College longtime President and CEO Greg Brown has announced his retirement and the appointment of Cole Gahagan, the company’s former president of content, revenue and enterprise solutions, as the new president and CEO. Following the transition, Brown will serve as co-chairman of the board of directors and advisor to the company.
“It’s been the privilege of a lifetime to be associated with the great people of this company and the collegiate sports industry for the past 36 years. Learfield IMG College is in good hands with Cole Gahagan and our outstanding employees,” said Brown. “When Cole joined us in January, I had in my mind transitioning to this new role later in 2020. But with college sports on virtual hold, this lull is an ideal time for the company leadership to transition now so we will be well-positioned to serve our partners and sponsor brands on the other side of this national crisis. Cole brings extraordinary experiences to the challenges and opportunities ahead.”
Brown began with Learfield in 1984 selling sponsorships for the Iowa State Cyclone Radio Network. He grew quickly through the ranks and was named Learfield’s president and CEO in 2009 following the retirement of Founder Clyde Lear. Under Brown’s leadership, the company evolved through organic growth and strategic acquisitions to become one of the leading collegiate sports marketing firms in the nation. Brown oversaw the merger completion between Learfield and IMG College in December 2018. Learfield IMG College now represents more than 1,000 collegiate athletic programs (including nearly 200 multimedia rights relationships), conferences and arenas across the nation as well as a wide array of services to collegiate athletic departments, performing arts centers and event organizers.
Brown has been recognized for his leadership in the college sports industry. The Sports Business Journal the past three years named him as one of the “50 Most Influential People in Sports Business.” He received the Entrepreneur of The Year 2017 Southwest Technology and Media Services Award. Brown serves on the board of the National Football Foundation.
“It has been an absolute honor working with and learning from Greg Brown — not just over the last several months — but during the years I observed his leadership and accomplishments from other corners of our sports industry,” said Gahagan. “I’m grateful for his friendship and guidance, and I’m looking forward to continue our working relationship for many years to come.”
In his previous role, Gahagan led Learfield IMG College’s media and content teams as well as its collection of businesses, which include its comprehensive collegiate multimedia rights division and affiliated and acquired businesses. Prior to joining the company on Jan. 6, Gahagan was chief commercial officer for Fanatics, Inc. He also was chief revenue officer for Ticketmaster and former senior vice president, development and strategy for Live Nation.
“Now more than ever, our Learfield IMG College team has a responsibility to usher the collegiate athletics industry into a new era of growth; leveraging data mining, digital tools, and highly compelling content to engage more fans,” continued Gahagan. “Over the last several years, we have evolved from serving as an asset creation and sales company to a fully integrated media and tech leader — and we’re only getting started. I’m humbled to now help lead this new charge and am beyond bullish for what lies ahead — both for our people and our partners.”
Gahagan has received numerous industry honors including the “Forty Under 40” award by Sports Business Journal, “Top 25 Digital Power Players” recognition by Billboard Magazine, and the noted “Leaders Under 40 Award” by Leaders in Sports. A Louisiana native, Gahagan holds an undergraduate degree from TCU and an MBA from SMU.