After entertaining an offer from NBC Sports Network, the Big East Conference has agreed to continue its relationship with ESPN through 2019-20.
ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy reports the deal is for seven years and worth $130 million. The conference did not reveal terms of the agreement, but did confirm that ESPN would continue to be the league's primary media rights holder.
"ESPN has matched the third-party offer that the Big East Conference received, and, subject to Big East board approval, ESPN and the Big East will continue, for years to come, their long-term relationship, which began in 1980," commissioner Mike Aresco said in an official statement.
The Big East received an official offer from NBC Sports Network last week, but ESPN, as the Big East's current media rights partner, had one week to match the offer. This offer is worth significantly less per school than the current deal, and "six times less" than what ESPN offered the conference two years ago, according to ESPN.com.
The league membership looks much different now than it did two years ago, before the departures of Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Louisville, Rutgers and West Virginia in all sports, along with the Catholic 7 -- Depaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's, and Villanova -- in all sports but football. Notre Dame will also take its Olympic sports to the ACC in 2014 and play five ACC opponents per year in football.
Louisville and Rutgers will play their final season of Big East football this fall, along with Connecticut, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, South Florida, SMU, Temple, and UCF. Tulane and East Carolina will join the league in 2014, and Navy is scheduled to join the Big East as a football-only member in 2015.
Documents recently obtained by CBSSports.com's Jeremy Fowler included a holiday card sent from Cincinnati president Santa Ono to each ACC president, possibly in hopes of helping the Bearcats get an invitation from the league. ESPN.com reports that if the Big East were to expand, Tulsa and UMass are the "leading candidates."
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