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$17.5M FTX Field deal canceled after FTX files bankruptcy

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NICK QUINLAN | SENIOR STAFF

FTX and campus announced the 10-year, $17.5 million naming rights deal last August.

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NOVEMBER 17, 2022

The cryptocurrency exchange FTX filed for bankruptcy Nov. 11, leading to the cancellation of the naming deal for California Memorial Stadium’s FTX Field.

FTX and campus announced the 10-year, $17.5 million naming rights deal last August. As part of the deal, LEARFIELD’s Cal Bears Sports Properties, Cal Athletics’ multimedia rights holder, agreed to accept the payment in cryptocurrency, according to a press release announcing the start of the deal.

“LEARFIELD’s Cal Bears Sports Properties, working in collaboration with Cal Athletics, has suspended the FTX naming rights sponsorship with Cal Athletics,” said Jonathan Okanes, interim associate athletics director of communications for Cal Athletics, in an email.

Former campus lecturer Nicholas Weaver, who calls himself the “Chief Mad Scientist of Skerry Technologies,” was openly critical of the deal and called for it to be canceled in a Daily Cal op-ed published in September 2021.

The deal should never have happened in the first place, according to Weaver.

“Since it basically ended after <1 year, the result is the University AD torched the reputation of the University for what was probably a mere $1.7M,” Weaver said in an email.

In his op-ed, Weaver noted that FTX was a “gambling operation” that served cryptocurrency speculators. Unlike stocks, Weaver added, cryptocurrency has no intrinsic value.

At the time, Weaver wrote that FTX might not last for even five years into the deal. It folded just 15 months in.

“I hate to say ‘I told you so,’ ” Weaver said in the email. “OK, I love saying I told you so to the Athletic Department.”

While Weaver emphasized the reputational damage to campus, he contended that the financial implications of the deal were minor because campus administration is already “bailing out” the athletic department with millions of dollars of assumed debt each year.

Weaver added that Cal Athletics would likely need to find a new sponsor for the field.

“Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of FTX, was the son of two Stanford law professors, and went to MIT,” Weaver said in the email. “Having Cal’s field have to strip the naming just before the big game is one heck of a Cal/Stanford prank.”

Contact Emewodesh Eshete at 

LAST UPDATED

NOVEMBER 18, 2022