SBD/December 31, 2012/Media

ESPN Criticized For Relegating UConn-Stanford Women's Basketball Game To ESPNU

It is a "slap to the face of women's college basketball that the No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown between Stanford and UConn ended up being relegated to ESPNU," according to Jeff Jacobs of the HARTFORD COURANT. UConn coach Geno Auriemma said, "If they are NFL games, then I understand. But if they're not NFL games and it's two bowl games among the other 56 bowl games or however many there are. … I guess the TV people have already done their homework and have come to a conclusion that some 6-6 team from one part of the country playing another 6-6 team from another part of the country is probably a great game and great for the fans." Jacobs noted Saturday's lineup on ESPN and ESPN2 was not "exactly boffo box office." UConn-Stanford "got beat out by the Armed Forces Bowl between unranked Rice (6-6) and Air Force (6-6)." It also got "beat out by the Pinstripe Bowl between unranked West Virginia (7-5) and Syracuse (7-5)." Auriemma said, "That's the battle we fight all the time. That's the battle that women's sports in general fight. I don't know how you can win the battle other than play some great games, play a game on Saturday that everybody says they wished that more people had seen." Jacobs: "If schools don't see returns over time, how will they react?" If ESPN is "so loaded with inventory, are they, well, overloaded?" With NBC Sports and "some other entities gathering on the national horizon, could some competition with time slots to fill eventually give a greater platform?" Jacobs: "Wouldn't this have been the perfect day for ESPN to debate this all in front of its biggest possible national audience? ... I'd argue that ESPN and women's basketball missed a chance here" (HARTFORD COURANT, 12/29). In Tampa, Tom Jones writes it was "disappointing" that the game was on ESPNU. It would have been "nice to see this game get a little higher profile on ESPN, ESPN2 or even ABC instead of being relegated to one of the lesser-watched stations in ESPN's stable" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 12/31).
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