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ESPN has named VP/Programming & Acquisitions for College Football Dave Brown VP/Programming for the forthcoming Univ. of Texas network, while Senior Coordinating Producer Stephanie Druley will serve as VP/Production for the network. Brown will lead the strategic direction for the net's business dealings and content offerings. He will oversee the creation of new shows and concepts, scheduling, acquisitions and the network's business plan. Brown will report to ESPN Senior VP/College Sports Programming Burke Magnus. Meanwhile, Druley will oversee the overall production of the net, with responsibilities including studio and remote productions, the look of on-air content and hiring network talent. She will report to ESPN Exec VP/Production Norby Williamson. Both Brown and Druley will relocate to Austin (ESPN). In Austin, John Maher notes while "some academic-oriented programming will be aired, the bread and butter for the network will be sports broadcasts." Brown said, "Our goal is to get two football games. Men's basketball, we've got a minimum of eight, and we'll try to pick up a couple (more) and we'll have lots of women's hoops." Brown was "known as a college football match-maker" at ESPN, though he noted that he "likely wouldn't be setting up any football showdowns for Texas, since the Longhorns' schedule was pretty well set for the near future." Brown added that he has "been told there will be about 75 jobs to fill at the new network" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 3/2). Brown said that he "expects the network to sign on between Aug. 15 and Sept. 1, beginning with coverage of the upcoming football season, from studios in the university's communications complex on the northwest side of the campus in Austin" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/2).
Sports Illustrated has parted ways with motorsports reporter Tom Bowles for cheering Trevor Bayne's victory in last month's Daytona 500. Bowles chronicled and defended the actions that led to his dismissal in a post on FRONTSTRETCH.com, writing, "Before I could control it, my hands were coming together to join them, caught up with fans and media alike in a moment we could all appreciate. ... That day marked my first and last claps working as a NASCAR reporter for SI.com." Bowles: "I understand the importance of impartiality in reporting. But last time I checked, where you're supposed to be judged is whether that actually shows up on paper. ... Bayne's victory was a ray of hope for a sport beaten down the last five years." Bowles noted he was "far from the only reporter who clapped that day." Bowles: "The sad part is I'm the only one bold enough to admit it in the face of peers overly focused on the values of reporting rather than the act itself. ... Fact: I clapped, and then shook Trevor Bayne's hand on the way out along with many assembled media in attendance. Analysis: I still wrote a well-reasoned, well-thought out post-race column on a variety of topics that would have happened if Bayne or Kyle Busch had won." Bowles added, "If a supposed lapse of ethics proves to be my downfall, despite an undying passion and thirst for knowledge regardless of the consequences, so be it. At least I can look in the mirror at the end of the night, smile and give a round of applause for staying true to myself" (FRONTSTRETCH.com, 3/1).
NO EXCUSES: In Orlando, George Diaz wrote Bowles, and "anybody else who cheered, was out of line," as cheering for Bayne's victory has an "unprofessional feel to it." National Motorsports Press Association President Rea White "sent a note to all the association members urging them to keep the static noise down to a minimum" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 3/1). In Milwaukee, Dave Kallmann wrote cheering in the press box is "unprofessional and, at the very least, disrespectful to those who are trying to work." Kallmann: "Sports departments have fought for eons to be considered on the same journalistic level as 'real' reporters. This wouldn’t help. Can you imagine Helen Thomas applauding a speech by the president?" (JSONLINE.com, 3/1). ESPN.com's J.A. Adande said, “You need to take a stand now more than ever because you have an increasing amount of bloggers and fanboys allowed in the press box." But Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan said, “I’ve been to too many Olympics where I know all about cheering in a press box. All it would take is, ‘Hey, Tom, we don’t do that here.’ That’s it” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 3/1). NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen asked, "Has Sports Illustrated lost its mind? It fired a NASCAR correspondent for five seconds of clapping after a great race" (TWITTER.com, 3/2).
MORE TO THE STORY? SI VP/Communications Scott Novak confirmed Bowles "no longer be working for SI.com," though the added the company "cannot comment on the nature of offense or offenses that contributed to that decision." A high-ranking source at SI indicated that Bowles is no longer working for SI.com because of a series of issues that included cheering in the press box at the Daytona 500 (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal). ESPN.com's Bomani Jones said, "When somebody gets fired for something like this, he might have gotten fired and they might have put that down on the page, but we don’t know everything that’s going on here. Not even close” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 3/1).
BamaOnline.com, a Univ. of Alabama fan destination that is one of the most popular team affinity sites on the Internet with more than 12,000 subscribers, has become part of the 247Sports.com network. Shannon Terry, 247Sports.com CEO, helped create BamaOnline.com in '96 and is a co-Owner of the site. 247Sports.com, however, needed to wait for the end of BamaOnline.com's contract with Rivals.com, sold by Terry to Yahoo in ’07, to make the switch. 247Sports.com, meanwhile, has additionally created "247 Sports Radio" on Sirius XM satellite radio, a daily program dedicated to collegiate sports with a weekly listenership of more than 500,000 people. The program features Bill King, also formerly of Rivals.com.
YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Eisenberg noted TNT NBA analyst Reggie Miller "will broadcast his first-ever college game Sunday on CBS" when he calls the Kentucky-Tennessee game. Miller will call games during the NCAA men's basketball tournament, and "one of the major questions about the new partnership between CBS and Turner Sports is how TNT's NBA-centric analysts will fare calling college games." But Miller "insists he's looking forward to the challenge." He said the "volume of players, coaches and teams is the biggest difference." Miller: "You know all 30 teams in the NBA and out of those 30 teams, you can probably name 10 guys on each roster. Obviously that's a little different when you're dealing with so many college teams, but that's the challenging part of it. Having a chance to work with Kevin Harlan, who I think is in his 15th or 16th year doing this, I think my transition will be smooth" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/1).
TEAMING UP AGAIN: The MLS Colorado Rapids and Altitude Sports & Entertainment said that the team's games "will return to the cable network this season, with the bulk scheduled to broadcast" in HD. Altitude said that it will "air 25 of the Rapids' MLS games, with a rotating cast of play-by-play announcers." Rapids games had been "shown on Altitude in previous seasons, before moving to" KWGN-CW last year (DENVERPOST.com, 3/1).
BECOMING AN EVENT: SI.com's Darren Eliot wrote NHL trade deadline day, "once a day shrouded in secrecy has, with the advances of technology, become a very public discourse involving GMs, media, players and fans." Eliot: "Not that this is a bad thing. It now sets up as another event for the NHL to connect with fans, which is always a positive." In Canada, TSN and Rogers Sportsnet "carried over eight hours of coverage, with analysts, former players and writers ... weighing in," and in the U.S., the NHL Network "aired TSN's coverage in its entirety as trades were sent to the league office with nearly simultaneous reports on-air." Some players "first heard on TV that they'd been traded before they got the news from agents and GMs" (SI.com, 3/1).
MARCH SADNESS: In Indianapolis, Will Higgins notes LIN Media, the owner of Indianapolis' WISH-CBS, said that its retransmission consent contract with Dish Network "ends Friday, and it's not likely a new agreement will be reached." Dish said that the dispute "primarily centers on the rate it pays LIN, and negotiations were continuing." Higgins notes losing WISH "would hurt fans of the NCAA college basketball tournament" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 3/2).