Blog Entry

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

Posted on: July 31, 2011 6:53 pm
Edited on: August 1, 2011 7:49 am
Texas A&M is urging the NCAA to use a 17-year-old rules interpretation that it believes would keep the Longhorn Network from airing high school games. obtained documents that show A&M wants TLN classified as an "institutional publication", per bylaw, which would make it an "athletics representative of the institution." The 1994 interpretation dealt most mostly with what was, at the time, an explosion among specialty print publications. Several newsletters, magazines and weeklies sprung up in the 1990s that covered individual schools' sports. Several of those publications reported recruiting news in varying degrees as part of their coverage.

They were, in essence, what could interpreted as print versions of what the TLN is attempting to become in 2011. A&M is asking that the NCAA apply that Nov. 1994 ruling -- regarding those print publications -- to video-based publications.

If not, the school said, "the NCAA, in allowing institutions to create video-based publication agreements without any restriction on content, is opening Pandora's box."

A&M even uses a quote Texas AD DeLoss Dodds to drive home its point about TLN being an "athletics representative."

“This is yet another step leading up to our launch which will offer viewers unprecedented access to our sports programs …” Dodds said in a January press release.

All of it means that Monday's Big 12 AD meetings in Dallas to discuss "institutional networks" could be the most significant for the conference in more than a year. During the 2010 spring meetings in Kansas City, the seeds were planted for Nebraska and Colorado to leave the conference. During those meetings, Texas reaffirmed its desire to start a network.

"Our goal is to keep this together," A&M AD Bill Byrne said. "I don't see anything contentious about it."

The league recently agreed to a lucrative 13-year, $1.2 billion deal with Fox for its secondary rights. It figures to score another windfall when its ABC/ESPN rights expire after 2015-16. But cracks already are beginning to appear nationally and in the Big 12. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott reiterated last week what he told in May.

" ... It's my view there will be further expansion down the road," Scott said during the Pac-12 media days.

Texas A&M appears to have leverage with a potential move to the SEC. That could lead to a tsunami of conference realignment if other conferences are forced to react within the marketplace.

Texas has long been speculated to become an independent if it isn't happy with the Big 12. (Although it has never been addressed what would happen with Texas' highly-competitive minor sports.) The school came within a heartbeat of joining the Pac-10 in 2010. A portion of Texas' contract with ESPN states that if Texas is not a member of a conference, ESPN would have 60 days to make an exclusive deal for those TV rights. It would have 48 hours to match any competing offer. That information was reported by the Austin American-Statesman after a Freedom of Information request.

Given the potentially shaky Big 12 partnership, a school like Missouri suddenly would have multiple options in perhaps the SEC, Big Ten, Big East, even the Pac-12. There is every indication, though, that the current situation will be resolved. That still doesn't mean the Big 12 is a long-term proposition.

The growing controversy over broadcasting high school games seems to have only two resolutions. Either it will happen or it won't. Texas and ESPN officials have said they are fine if the NCAA restricts the airing of high school games. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has put a moratorium on the practice until the issue is resolved.

Also at issue is Texas' intention to broadcast a conference game on TLN. That raises issues as to whether a conference member would be helping promote the network by its participation.

What you don't hear at the moment is Texas and ESPN backing down on their own on the issue of high school games. Technology, at this point, is moving faster than the NCAA's ability to react to it. Texas' intent to show high school content via broadband distribution and a coming Longhorn application has Texas A&M and others concerned.

Adding to the confusion is that Texas, the Big 12, NCAA and ESPN are all in a symbiotic relationship. Texas is a member of the Big 12 which is a member of the NCAA. All three have financial relationships with media giant ESPN.

Texas and ESPN announced the 20-year, $300 million partnership in January.

The Longhorn Network is the first individual school-centric endeavor on a major network (ESPN). It is launching Aug. 26 but not before having somewhat of a national referendum on the future of such businesses -- and possibly the Big 12 itself.

After a much-hyped, regents meeting earlier this month Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin said TLN's intentions create "uncertainty," in the Big 12. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said last week it is "common sense" that Texas not air high school games. While proclaiming solidarity among conference members, commissioner Dan Beebe said, "Any time there is any kind of perceived crack, there's going to be a lot of vultures in the air."

The issue has attracted the attention of the NCAA which has called an Aug. 22 in Indianapolis to discuss the issue. Among those invited include Texas, Notre Dame and the Pac-12. All three have networks or aspirations of forming one.

At issue is whether the ESPN/Texas partnership creates an unfair recruiting advantage. In early June, TLN chief Dave Brown specified in a radio interview that the network intended to show up to 18 high school games as well as travel to other states to show the games of players who had committed to Texas. That's where A&M, and others took notice.

Texas A&M is lobbying the NCAA hard to the point that ruling in favor of Texas "may cause more than simply discussion and consternation among the NCAA membership. It may lead to undesirable developments, a fear of creeping recruiting advantage that compels members to try to create situations for themselves similar to the Longhorn Network ...

" ... then the next step," A&M states to the NCAA, "could easily be an initiative to broadcast nonscholastic events during the otherwise slow collegiate sporting event summer period and it does not take much of an imagination to target men’s and women’s basketball summer tournaments/camps as being of interest to sports fans."

The NCAA already has its hands full with controlling the influence of those non-scholastic events. Basketball is rife with abuses. The association's enforcement department is working diligently trying to control non-scholastic third party influences in football.

College athletics is watching the TLN situation closely. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Thursday that the Big Ten Network is not interested in televising high school games at this time. That could change, he added, the NCAA allows it.

In that case, he said, "we'll probably have to take a look at it."

At the time the original legislation was passed in 1993, 24/7 networks dedicated to one school didn't exist. Texas A&M argued to the NCAA that "the intent and spirit of the rule was that these type of outside/independent entities ... have greater flexibility in conversations with high school-aged individuals ..."

Dodds said Texas would be not involved in selecting high school games to be broadcast.

"We'll just have to let the process work itself out," ESPN's Brown said last week. "We would have liked to have done them [high school games], one game a week, two games a week. If we have to go in another direction we will."

Coach Mack Brown said last week that high school coaches and players would be hurt most through lack of exposure if their games weren't broadcast.

Since: Dec 25, 2006
Posted on: August 1, 2011 11:42 am

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

"Coach Mack Brown said last week that high school coaches and players would be hurt most through lack of exposure if their games weren't broadcast."

Its not like they were already getting national coverage. How would not getting something, that they already werent getting, hurt them?

Since: Dec 25, 2006
Posted on: August 1, 2011 11:38 am

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

"Coach Mack Brown said last week that high school coaches and players would be hurt most through lack of exposure if their games weren't broadcast."

Its not like they were already getting national coverage. How would this hurt them?

Since: Aug 1, 2011
Posted on: August 1, 2011 10:34 am

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

Oh, no...we're good with y'all having your own network.
It's the catalyst killing this POS conference.  

So continue the arrogance you're notorious for and we'll move along.  Everyone wins. 

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: August 1, 2011 10:32 am

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

You don't like it? Then get your own network.

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: August 1, 2011 10:28 am

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

Texas has/will always have an unfair recruiting advantage because it is in Austin. Let's FedEx a big box of tissues to aTm.

Since: Aug 18, 2010
Posted on: August 1, 2011 10:27 am

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

I love the comments from the Longhorn fans stating that texas already gets whatever recruits they want.  If that is indeed the case, how can anyone explain a team going 5-7 with the most talent in the country.  Maybe the coaches just suck at talent evaluation or are just bad coaches.  Whatever the reason, texas is looking to get a leg up on the competition, and the competition does not like it.  I would be surprised if the big 12 is still around in a few years.  I have no interest in the 16 team super-conferences, but it would appear that this is where we are headed.  If the BCS is still around, it will be interesting to see what they do with Texas if they indeed go independent.  I expect for them to get the same treatment as ND, or something of the sort.  I would also think that OU would be getting tired of Texas getting all the ink when it is quite obvious OU has been the best football team in the conference for a while now.  Fun stuff!

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: August 1, 2011 10:26 am

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

Independent! Independent! Independent!

Since: Aug 27, 2006
Posted on: August 1, 2011 10:22 am

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

The network employees will be EPSN employees, not UT employees.
Texas may get an advantage, but it's an indirect advantage.
If you're so hot and bothered about this, why not go after REAL advantages like summer camps or coaches' clinics. That's where the big programs get their recruiting advantages.
I can't believe people are nearly as upset about this as they are about street agents.

Since: Aug 1, 2011
Posted on: August 1, 2011 10:15 am

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

This is all fine and good, but LHN is following Texas recruits around when they're "Arbitrarily deciding which games to broadcast."  As a matter of fact, they're planning on broadcasting a game in Arizona this season, you know..."Just because"....oh and Texas has a QB commitment from that school.  So here's the deal:

-LHN will be paying High Schools to broadcast games
-LHN is following Longhorn recruits, you pure chance to broadcast their games
-High school budgets could use the money
-It'd sure help if the star recruit on our team would commit to Texas so that we could get on TV

Here's a quick wrap of a story from the Athletic Director at Aledo High School:
ESPN rep contacts Aledo, expressing interest in broadcasting a game.  Aledo has no interest in moving the game (ESPN wants it to be a Thursday game) but ESPN is persistant.  Aledo AD asks ESPN rep something like 'If Jonathan Gray was committed to A&M, would you be interested in broadcasting this game?' (Silence on the other end of the phone)

Look, there are two types of people in this world:  Those who believe the LHN would arbitrarily choose which games to broadcast for the good of the children, and those with IQ's in the 100's.

Since: Nov 19, 2006
Posted on: August 1, 2011 9:24 am

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

One of two things are going to happen.  Texas is going to give in to the Big 12, thus saving the Big 12 from extinction for the time being, or they are not.  If Texas does not give in, they will beforced to go independent because no other BCS Conference will accpet them.  This will definately hurt Texas.  Voters have a way of ignoring Independents, as BYU has already found out.  Un less Texas reached some type of agreement with the Cotton Bowl, it will be a BCS Bowl or a Minor Bowl for Texas.  That means that they would have to finish every season at 10-2 or better just to qualify for a BCS Bowl.  Having siad this, the ball is also in A&M's court.  If they make the move to the SEC, the Big 12 folds.  A&M will most certainly make that move if Texas get's it's way with it's TLN Network.  Look for the Big 10 to position itself to grab Missouri, and the Pac 12 position itself to grab any number of Big 12 teams, including both Oklahoma teams.  With the Pac 12 splitting up into reigonal networks, OU and Oklahoma State would come out much further ahead than Texas, because they would not pay one red cent for their regional network.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or