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: Nov 17, 2007
Posted on: August 1, 2011 8:54 am

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

National exposure greatly enhances the market value of the high school player when entering the college recruiting circus. Certainly not being allowed to appear on TLN will hurt the ratings of the Texas recruits.

Then there is that the money the High Schools might be getting would go away and hurt the budgets of the Texas high schools. This will also impact the player ratings in the recruiting circus.

Maybe there is a point that they should not be on the TLN. 

Since: Jan 8, 2008
Posted on: August 1, 2011 8:21 am

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network


After your Tosu debacle.  I need for you to send the link that validates your writing.   Your crediblity is shot.  I don't believe what you wrote.

Since: Jul 9, 2010
Posted on: August 1, 2011 6:36 am

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

As an OU fan the TLN should worry me but it doesn't, at least not where the high school games are concerned.  Call me crazy but I really don't think that just because your high school game is on TLN you're going to commit to UT.  OU already recruits the hell out of TX.  How does the boring TLN, filled with boring Mack Brown "analysis" entice a recruit?  The network isn't paying the subscription at the kids house is it?  There are already high school games on TV right?  Tulsa boasts two of the best high school teams in the country (Jenks, Union, and you can even throw in my school BTW as a third) and most of those games are shown on local TV.  Local no longer means local though.  It's pretty easy to find footage, if not the complete game, on youtube.  Other than the clout I don't see the soon to be failed TLN as a worry for OU, at least where showing high school games is concerned.

That said, as an OU fan I want the TLN to fail and I want it to fail fast.  Over the last few years UT has tried their best to destroy the Big 12.  Their unwillingness to work with Nebraska, the refusal to start a conference network, and their clear dismissal of aTm (yes I just gave the ags a little props) is just dumb.  TX should not leave the conference.  Not because OU needs them but because it's just dumb.  OU, aTm, and TX are such a part of the fabric of that region of the country and it would be tragic to see them move to another conference or go independent.  Again it's not because we (OU, OSU, etc) need their money but because of what it does to the people who live in Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and even Texas.  Conferences were designed geographically and for good reason.  A high school kid in TX who decides to go to OU, good choice, stands a pretty good chance of seeing his parents at the game.  An independent UT plays all over the country and the high school star who committed to them doesn't get a kiss from momma after the game cause he's in Utah and she's in Texas.

Hell I live in California and I still don't want OU to join the Pac-12.  Hasn't there always been something great about those "fly over states", Texas you're included, triumphing over the supposed toughest conference in the nation?  

If OU and UT leave the Big 12-2 then college football will change and I'm not sure I want what it becomes. 

Since: Feb 22, 2008
Posted on: August 1, 2011 2:49 am

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

What Dave Brown said is that the LHN is going to follow top recruits IN THE STATE OF TEXAS. Not UT recruits per se. These are the same kids OU, Nebraska, Tech, LSU, UF, FSU, and everyone else in the country targets. 90% of these kids wouldn't qualify under Big XII recruiting rules and would end up in the SEC or lower divisions.
That is the point.  Everyone is going to be after these kids because they are the top players in the country, and then Texas will swing by and put them on TV.  All the other coahces will swing by and tell them aboot how great their program is while a Texas employee comes by and jams a TV camera in their face and tells them they will be a star.  It doesn't matter if not all of them can make Texas, I think the Horns get an advantage with this network for the kids they can get.

Since: Jul 26, 2008
Posted on: August 1, 2011 2:02 am

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

Of course some aren't going to say anything negative about the sketchy notion. If the idea were being proposed by another program though, we'd be hearing those same individuals questioning the integrity of the idea. The process is more than questionable, I don't care which program is the face of it. Forget about "open your minds to new ideas", how about sidelining the biased arguments and accept that there is a lot of gray area to this whole thing that is going to require more watchdog oversight, of which the NCAA has already showed lack of confidence...per se. Bottom line, it's not going to fly. We all know it, even the biased that are debating the issue. Some, not all UT followers are hoping that maybe, just maybe the governing body can be duped again in 2011.

Since: Aug 27, 2006
Posted on: August 1, 2011 1:24 am

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

What Dave Brown said is that the LHN is going to follow top recruits IN THE STATE OF TEXAS. Not UT recruits per se. These are the same kids OU, Nebraska, Tech, LSU, UF, FSU, and everyone else in the country targets. 90% of these kids wouldn't qualify under Big XII recruiting rules and would end up in the SEC or lower divisions.

Since: Aug 27, 2006
Posted on: August 1, 2011 1:20 am

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

None of that is factual. Check the Fullmer Cup standings. I don't think Texas has been in the top 10 in arrests during th Mack Brown era.

As for Mack "manipulating sportwriters" you're wrong. Mack called out TWO SEC writers who had Texas 10 spots below anyone else. Cal had not outliers. If you excluded those two wacky voters, Texas was in the Rose Bowl. They did and Texas won the Rose Bowl. Cal went on to the Cotton where they got beat by a team Texas beat by about 40 points.   

Since: Sep 2, 2006
Posted on: August 1, 2011 12:36 am

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

UT is pretty sleazy when it comes to sports. Don't confuse it with its Honors Program which may be the best in the South.  Mack Brown manipulated sportswriters and the other coaches in their BCS vote a while back and UT is always near the top in players arrested.  Texas A&M and the rest of the Big 12 are helpless in trying to stop them.

They should have gone to the Pac 12- better academics and cleaner sports  EXCEPT for USC

Since: Aug 2, 2008
Posted on: August 1, 2011 12:34 am

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

 As a UofL/Big East fan, I would love to see Kansas and Missouri join us to make an all sport, 12 team conference. Oh, btw, HOW  MUCH BETTER WOULD THAT MAKE THE BIG EAST IN BASKETBALL????? I mean Kansas to the already best basketball conference!!!!! WOW!!!!

Since: Nov 28, 2010
Posted on: July 31, 2011 11:59 pm

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

Astro, you are probably correct stating they are trying to keep texas kids in texas, and while that would benefit a and m, it would not benefit OU or OSU or MU, and therefore would still be a recruiting advantage in their eyes.  I dont they they are a bully, I see them more like a bank, they have the money to influence certain individuals and they will use it.  A lot of people will tell you that regulating banks is not free market, but I argue that if you dont regulate them, then they have the money to run the country and make the free market not so free, you could say the same for Texas.

Sorry for bringing politics in this, but seemed like the best analogy  

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