SBD/May 26, 2011/Media

Big East Turns Down ESPN Proposal That Would Have Paid Schools $11M Per Year

Big East will be able to negotiate with other networks in September '12
The Big East Conference this week "turned down an offer" from ESPN that "would have paid Big East schools in the neighborhood of" $11M each, according to sources cited by Mark Blaudschun of the BOSTON GLOBE. ESPN told the Big East that the new TV rights proposal "was its best offer, considering that marquee schools such as Penn State, Maryland, Notre Dame, and Boston College were not coming through the door as the No. 10 team in football." The net was "content to take a chance" on the additions of TCU and "perhaps Central Florida with a fair-market offer." Big East Commissioner John Marinatto conceded that he is "taking a gamble, but he may have a hole card if NBC/Comcast and Fox come in and elevate the offer in the fall of 2012." However, Blaudschun notes "less money might be on the table when the Big East does get around to finalizing its television contract" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/26). CBSSPORTS.com's Brett McMurphy noted the Big East "has until September 2012 to determine its football membership because that's when ESPN's 60-day exclusive media rights renegotiating window with the league begins." There have been numerous football programs mentioned as expansion targets, "including Villanova, Central Florida, East Carolina and Houston." However, college industry sources said that the Big East is "also considering the possibility of pursuing Army and Navy as football members to get to 12 teams." The Big East "would be attracted to Army and Navy because of their national appeal and also because the schools could join as football-only members" (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/25).

NET GAIN: Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott noted there has been a "focus on the money that we've generated from our ESPN/Fox contract," but said from his perspective the "longer-term benefit from fans is not just going to be the national exposure we get." Scott: "It's going to be what we are able to do with launching our own network." He added, "What our Pac-12 network is going to allow us to do is make sure that every football game and every basketball game will be on air. ... We're going to have a home for Pac-12 sports" ("Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 5/24).
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