SBD/December 27, 2012/Colleges

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  • What's In A Name? Battle Of "Big East" Moniker Likely To Occur Between Two Groups

    With the Big East's seven non-FBS schools having voted to leave the conference and form their own league, questions that "remain to be answered" include when will the new conference be formed and which league gets to keep the Big East name, according to Lenn Robbins of the N.Y. POST. Kenyon & Kenyon trademark attorney Mimi Rupp said that the FBS schools staying in the Big East -- Cincinnati, South Florida and UConn -- "probably would win the case, but at what cost?" Rupp said, "The three schools that are staying in the Big East will argue that the trademark registrations and name are no different than any other Big East property, which belongs to the Big East Corporation." Rupp said the seven departing schools will likely "claim that the name belongs to them because they are synonymous with the Big East brand." Robbins cited sources as saying that Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco has been "working tirelessly toward this solution: After the 2013 football season, the last year in the current BCS system, and the 2013-14 basketball season, he will sell the rights to the Big East name to the Catholic Seven." The league with those teams will "continue to play its postseason tournament" at MSG. But going forward, the "conference with football schools, according to several marketing experts, might be better off launching a new brand." Meanwhile, a source said that though St. Mary’s and Gonzaga are "attractive candidates" to join the Catholic Seven, the "travel costs to fly non-revenue teams cross-country will almost surely make adding them prohibitive." The source said that Butler, Dayton, George Mason, St. Louis and Xavier are the "top five options as the league seeks to transform into an elite, 12-team, hoops conference" (N.Y. POST, 12/24).

    LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: In Indianapolis, David Woods noted that Butler basketball coach Brad Stevens "reinforced what university president James Danko said in a statement about conference realignment: Butler will do what is best for the school." Stevens said of the seven non-football schools leaving the Big East, "I definitely agree with the decision. They had to." Butler announced in May that it was "leaving the Horizon League for the Atlantic 10." The new league likely "wouldn't begin play until 2014-15." But if it debuts "as early as next season, Butler could be in three leagues in as many years" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 12/24).

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  • Sources: Boise State Eyeing TV Rights; MWC Might Tweak Deal With CBS

    Boise State has approached networks to gauge value of home television rights

    Boise State is trying to get the Big East and Mountain West Conference to "allow the Broncos to retain their home television rights, to guarantee which conference the school ends up in" for the '13 football season, according to sources cited by Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com. BSU is "scheduled to leave the Mountain West and join the Big East" in football on July 1. But the school now is "pitting the Big East against the Mountain West in what one industry source called 'a game of chicken' to ensure the Broncos get the most lucrative deal they can." BSU has approached "multiple networks to gauge how much the Broncos could get if they retained their home television rights as a member of the Big East or MWC." Such an arrangement is "unheard of for a conference member." Big East and MWC sources said that "neither league would allow Boise State to keep its home television rights." Meanwhile, CBSSports.com last Friday reported the MWC and CBS "agreed to restructure their television deal." Sources said that that development, plus the "ability of the Mountain West to sell packages to two other networks, could bring the value of the Mountain West's deal to $25 million" (ESPN.com, 12/22). In Boise, Brian Murphy noted the MWC's new contract with CBS gives the network "its first pick of an undisclosed number of games, but allows the league to sell additional TV rights and control its digital rights." CBS previously "controlled all of the league’s rights -- TV and digital." CBS "currently pays" the MWC $8M per season. MWC Deputy Commissioner Bret Gilliland "wouldn't disclose whether that amount would decline under the new agreement." CBS owns the rights "through the 2015-16 season and holds an option for a four-year extension" (IDAHOSTATESMAN.com, 12/23).

    RE-WORKING THE DEAL: CBSSPORTS.com's Jeremy Fowler noted the MWC's "restructured television contract with CBS creates an interesting dynamic for 2016, when the network can apply its four-year option to keep the conference's rights until 2020." This is a "reworking of a 10-year deal with CBS that began in 2006-07 and pays a reported $12 million per year." But a source said that the deal "does not affect CBS' four-year option after the deal is up." In other words, the MWC "likely won't be a free agent for another eight years." The MWC "doesn't see this as a bad thing as it works to bolster its portfolio and position itself for more money than its antiquated original deal." The reworked deal is more "inventory for a league that's clearly trying to become the most powerful small conference while the Big East is vulnerable." It also could "free up the conference to profit more off digital rights" (CBSSPORTS.com, 12/22).

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