SBD/2/Sports Media


     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).
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