TAMPA, Fla. — With college sports on the brink of sweeping changes that could have long-term financial implications, two private investment firms have created a platform to help athletic departments find funding.

Redbird Capital and Weatherford Capital announced Wednesday the creation of Collegiate Athletic Solutions, seeking to cash in on a college sports landscape that is experiencing significant upheaval.

The NCAA and its member schools are expected to vote this week on a proposed $2.7 billion settlement of an antitrust lawsuit, which could leave schools with tighter budgets in the coming years, or in some cases financial hardship.

CAS will be available to lend money and provide guidance to athletic departments in exchange for a share of future revenue.

“The paradigm shift we’re seeing in the collegiate athletics ecosystem is similar to what we’ve seen with media distribution models, collective bargaining rights and premium hospitality,” said Gary Cardinale, founder and managing partner of Redbird Capital in New York. “They are all centered around the need to create long-term growth by optimizing premium (intellectual property) and revenue streams.

“CAS addresses athletic departments’ need for near-term capital along with additional operational efficiencies across strategies that can improve competitive positioning.”

Weatherford Capital is headquartered in Tampa, Florida and is managed by brothers Will, Sam and Drew Weatherford. Drew Weatherford played football at Florida State and is a member of the school’s board of trustees.

Florida State has been in talks with another investment firm, private equity giant Sixth Street, about a potential capital infusion for the Seminoles for more than a year.

“We’re at the tail end of the competitive divide between athletic departments and programs,” Weatherford said. “The impact of conference realignment, variations in media rights deals and the advent of NIL and revenue sharing are creating a wider financial divide at both the university and conference levels.

“History has proven that universities that invest smartly in their athletic departments consistently win and outperform peer institutions. Our mission at CAS is to offer athletic departments a unique capital solution for when and where to invest in order to compete at the highest level during this time. Lean.” paradigm shift.”


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