SBD/November 22, 2011/Colleges

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  • BYU TV Contract Threatening To Kill Move To Big East As Football-Only Member

    BYU has an eight-year contract with ESPN that pays $1-2M per game

    BYU's existing TV contracts “are snagging negotiations with the Big East Conference for BYU to join that league’s proposed western division as a football-only member and are threatening to kill the deal altogether,” according to Jay Drew of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE. Sources said that talks between BYU and the Big East “are continuing but that there are ‘some stumbling blocks’ that could lead the league to look at another Western school, perhaps San Diego State, as a traveling partner for Boise State because the Aztecs don’t carry as much TV baggage as BYU.” BYU apparently “wants to retain its home television rights through its eight-year arrangement with ESPN” that allows the net to televise all but one BYU home football game per season with an estimated payout of between $1-2M per game. That deal allows BYU’s own network, BYUtv, “to broadcast the one game not picked up by ESPN and also allows the Cougars to show replays of all their ESPN broadcasts -- home or away -- on BYUtv.” The Big East “does not want to hand over those rights to BYU, primarily because it wants the option of using them when it negotiates a new television contract next year and believes it could affect the value of that contract” (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 11/22). In Utah, Dick Harmon notes many Big East schools “and potential invitees are frustrated with how BYU played its cards.” Washington Examiner reporter Jim Williams yesterday said that “it was BYU officials who rejected a deal that appeared agreed upon last Thursday.” Williams: “Both sides want a deal and are working to get it done. That is where it is now.” He added, “BYU has been accepted by the Big East members in a preliminary vote, with San Diego State as a backup ready to go. They are keeping everything quiet in hopes of getting a deal done within 10 days or less. If it can't get done, then San Diego State is in” (DESERET NEWS, 11/22).

    OVER ON THE EAST COAST: CBSSPORTS.com’s Dennis Dodd reported West Virginia Univ. “has given assurances to the Big 12 it will play in the conference in 2012 despite an ongoing lawsuit filed by the Big East that seeks to hold the school to a 27-month waiting period.” Interim Big 12 Commissioner Chuck Neinas said that WVU "had told the league before and after the Big East filed suit on Nov. 4 that it would be in the Big 12 next year." The Big East “did not have immediate comment” about WVU coming to the Big 12 next season. The school “sued the Big East” on Oct. 31 (CBSSPORTS.com, 11/21). WVU AD Oliver Luck said, “We were fortunate to get out. We got out (of the Big East) when the ship was seriously going down. I mean, only the tip of the sail was showing.” He added, “If the goal is to go to a BCS game, it’s better to play in one of the power conferences” (CHARLESTON GAZETTE, 11/19).

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  • Maryland President OKs Athletic Cuts, But Offers Lifeline To Affected Programs

    All eight sports in jeopardy of being eliminated need to combine to raise $29.05M

    Univ. of Maryland President Wallace Loh "accepted the recommendations of an athletic commission to cut eight of the school's 27 sports, but also offered a lifeline by granting the affected programs the opportunity to raise eight years of total costs by June 30 to save themselves," according to Patrick Stevens of the WASHINGTON TIMES. The commission released its report last week "suggesting that the university, which has exhausted its supply of reserve athletics funding, eliminate teams in acrobatics and tumbling (formerly competitive cheerleading); men’s and women’s swimming and diving; men’s tennis; men’s cross-country and indoor and outdoor track and field; and women’s water polo." The total that all of the sports "need to raise is $29.05 million." The process to "raise the funds has started." The M Club, the school’s "letter-winner-booster organization, has pledged $1 million toward the campaign." Loh "wrote in his formal response that all athletic scholarship commitments and affected coaches’ contracts will be honored," while AD Kevin Anderson "wrote that two senior development staff members will be allocated to the effort full time." The teams "would need to raise enough money to endow their respective programs in perpetuity by 2020." In response, the swimming and diving teams "announced the creation of the nonprofit Save Maryland Swimming and Diving Inc. in an attempt to generate the needed money before June 30." Loh "accepted the commission’s other recommendations, which included improving collaboration between the university and the Athletic Department; reinvesting resources to provide more academic advisers, athletic trainers and sports medicine personnel into remaining teams; and creating greater clarity in the Athletic Department's financial reports" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 11/22).

    ON THE DECLINE: In DC, Charles Iane notes revenue from men’s basketball and football has been "declining for years, mirroring the teams’ declining win-loss records -- which is the main reason for the cutbacks to the likes of track and water polo." An alternative strategy "might be to reduce the 'revenue' programs to a more human scale -- say, the lower-budget approach of the academically excellent schools, such as the Naval Academy and Bucknell, that participate in the Patriot League." Instead, Maryland is "doubling down on the big-time athletic paradigm -- and all the tensions between that model and the academic mission of the university -- in the hopes that better days are coming for its prestige sports" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/22). Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic's Ivan Carter said, "This happened because the football program has struggled. They built all these suites a few years ago. They’re paying the old coach $2 million now. This is all about not being good enough at football; that’s the root of the problem." WTEM-AM Steve Czaban said, “It’s more than just football. This is a ploy here. I think someone is going to come in and save some of these programs. Other schools have done this where they say, ‘We’ve got to cut all these other minor sports,’ and then they find the money" (“Washington Post Live,” Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, 11/21).

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