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PAC-10 REJECTION OF ESPN HAS SOME COACHES ASKING WHY?
Published February 2, 1995
The Pac-10's rejection of a four-year, $3M offer from ESPN in favor of Liberty Sports has raised some questions within the conference. The ESPN deal was reportedly rejected due to the network's desire to add the conference to the end of its "Big Monday" package, starting games at 9pm PST. Conference leaders were apparently concerned about the effect of late starting times, including attendance, fan safety, study time and travel schedules. But Oregon Coach Jerry Green was not pleased with the decision: "I'm for anything that gets us on national television more. I don't care where we play. I don't care when or what time of day." Oregon State AD Dutch Baughman, a member of the Pac-10 TV committee, says the sale of the package to Liberty means the conference could be distributed to a variety of cable outlets, including ESPN. However, ESPN spokesperson Mike Soltys says that's "not an option" for the next few years. Another unnamed ESPN source "ripped" the Pac-10: "I think sometimes you throw up your hands with them. They're the only conference dumb enough to do this." Green noted the Liberty package calls for games to start no later than 8:30pm PST: "What's the difference? One hour?" (Ken Goe, Portland OREGONIAN, 2/1). More from Soltys: "We're surprised they gave up the exposure. ... Liberty says it has a lot of homes (55 million), but a lot of people are counted twice. I have MSG and New England Sports Channel." CBS' Len DeLuca: "Liberty Sports has established itself as a real competitor to ESPN" (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 2/2).