The RedBird Capital and Weatherford Capital investment funds have launched a new private equity company to invest in college sports.

Collegiate Athletic Solutions (CAS) is described as a “purpose-driven, dedicated capital and business-building platform for public and private university athletic departments across the United States.”

CAS aims to be an advisor to university presidents, chief financial officers, and athletic directors, “equipping the strategies and resources to operate efficiently while allowing their athletic program to compete at the highest level.”

The CAS flexible capital solution can be deployed at the collegiate athletic department’s discretion and in conjunction with universities’ existing capital resources.

Anticipating a future revenue-sharing model, the CAS platform and capital “can help offset incremental, athletic-related expenses and, when needed, right-size operating structures.”

CAS has developed programs to meet the needs of both public and private universities in the US and can provide “a debt-like cost of capital structure – without any fixed payments – with its returns tied to new revenue generation." 

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CAS aims to "leverage its experience in ticketing, hospitality, premium events, media rights, and IP monetization to drive sustainable long-term growth.”

RedBird and Weatherford claim this structure will align CAS with athletic departments without burdening the overall university.

Gerry Cardinale, RedBird Capital founder and managing partner, said: “The paradigm shift we are seeing in the collegiate athletics ecosystem is similar to the ones we’ve seen with media distribution models, collective bargaining rights, and premium hospitality – they’re all centered around the need to create long-term growth by bridging the gap between premium IP and optimizing revenue streams.

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

Drew Weatherford, founding partner of Weatherford Capital, added: “We are in the late stages of the competitive divide between athletic departments and programs. The impact of conference re-alignment, diverging media rights deals, and the advent of NIL and revenue sharing is creating a greater financial divide at both the university and conference level.

“History has proven that the universities that adeptly invest in their athletic departments consistently win and outpace peer institutions. Our mission at CAS is to offer athletic departments a unique capital solution to invest when and where they need it to compete at the highest level during this tenuous paradigm shift.”

RedBird and Weatherford have decades of combined investments partnering with premium sports (and non-sports) intellectual property owners to support player development and grow ticketing and hospitality, NIL monetization, sports media, and other revenue streams

In late 2022, RedBird Capital Partners teamed up with Jeff Zucker, the former chairman of US media giant WarnerMedia and global president of cable news station CNN, and Abu Dhabi-based firm International Media Investments to form a $1-billion sports investment fund – RedBird IMI.