BYU alumnus and Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith buys NBA’s Utah Jazz

The Utah Jazz announced Wednesday morning the sale of the team and Vivint Smart Home Arena to BYU alumnus and Qualtrics founder Ryan Smith.

“I have known Ryan for several years and admire the values by which he and his wife Ashley live their lives,” current owner Gail Miller said in a statement. “They have such love for and a connection to Utah and this team.”

ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to break the news of the agreement between the Millers and Smith.

The deal is worth a reported $1.6 billion, according to Wojnarowski, and includes the Jazz, Vivint Smart Home Arena, the Salt Lake City Stars G-League team and management of the Salt Lake Bees baseball team. Smith also purchased The Zone Sports Network from the Millers in a separate deal.

Smith and his wife Ashley will become co-owners of the team after reportedly showing interest in other sports properties in the state as well, including Real Salt Lake. Smith sold Qualtrics for a reported $8 billion in 2018 and has an estimated net worth of $1.3 billion according to Forbes.

“We all owe a great debt to the Miller family for the amazing stewardship they have had over this asset for the past 35 years,” Smith said in a statement. “My wife and I are absolutely humbled and excited about the opportunity to take the team forward far into the future — especially with the greatest fans in the NBA. We look forward to building upon their lifelong work.”

The Millers purchased the Jazz in 1985 for $26.8 million and saw the team achieve sustained success over 35 years, including back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in 1997 and 1998. In 2017, the Millers put the Jazz in a trust to ensure the team would remain in Utah for the foreseeable future.

“I am fully persuaded that with this sale, the objectives of the trust will be honored, and the new owners have made the same commitment to keep the team in Utah,” Miller said. “This transaction will unlock opportunities that will allow us to continue our stewardship in ways not possible until now. Our mission is and will continue to be to enrich lives.”

Smith is a graduate of the BYU Marriott School of Business, where his father, Scott Smith, taught marketing for several years.

The younger Smith is a major supporter of BYU Athletics and it is unclear at this point whether his new role as NBA owner will impact his ability to donate to or promote Cougar sports. It is possible, especially in the realm of basketball, that a conflict of interest arises between the college and professional level. The Universe will report on those details as they emerge.

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