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: Aug 30, 2006
Posted on: July 31, 2011 11:50 pm

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

Everybody is pointing at Texas like they're some big bully and wants/needs a competitve disadvantage to compete with A&M. That's just silly! Keep in mind, the only reason Texas didn't join the SEC when Arkansas did is because they wouldn't admit A&M, also. Look it up! Texas has always used its clout to support as many other Texas universities as possible. While I don't have any inside info, my hunch is that the network is designed to entice Texas high school athletes to stay in-state and play at a Texas school. What could they possibly gain that they don't already have? They recruit nationally as well as anyone and get most of the Texas athletes they go after, heaven knows the alumni give back loads of cash. As one poster already suggested, perhaps this should be approached with suspicion, but as the wave of the future and all major schools need to follow suit. Time marches on, people, think outside of the box.

Since: Jul 15, 2011
Posted on: July 31, 2011 11:50 pm

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

Forget about anymore Big 12 teams joining the Big 10 (including Mizzou and Iowa State) because it's not happening.  The next four teams to join the Big 10 are going to be Army & Navy (Leaders Div), and Air Force & Notre Dame (Legends Div).  Tradition, academics, and solid athletic programs; it's a win-win.

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: July 31, 2011 11:34 pm

This reminds me of MSU whining about Michigan

When one school is the "little brother," everyone associated with them wants to complain about big brother.  Texas gets any instate recruit they want anyway, so where's the "recruiting advantage?"  Texas already has an advantage over A&M because future execs and business owners go to Texas while their future employees go to A&M.

Since: Jul 26, 2008
Posted on: July 31, 2011 11:06 pm

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

, you hit it right on the head. Those are facts. How can anyone be deaf to what someone actually said. It's not going to fly.

Also, I agree, some of the other schools need to go ahead and search for other options and not wait around and react. Be proactive and do whats best for the program. I don't mind Texas doing what it needs to do to make the most out of their brand. It would be dumb not to maximize the potential profits from the name. But the rest of the Big 12 programs are at quite the disadvantage and are at Texas' mercy. I wouldn't mind if OU/OSU moved over to the SEC or Big 10. A&M to the SEC. Kansas/K-State to the Big 10. Missouri to the Pac or Big..maybe the Big East is more realistic for them. The rest are screwed. MAC, WAC...Sunbelt?

Since: Jul 21, 2011
Posted on: July 31, 2011 10:31 pm

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

I would love for more of the old SWC gang to come join Arkanas in the SEC! It would be a great move for Texas A&M! It would give them several more big big games each football season as well as a home that is not going to split up!

Since: Jul 21, 2011
Posted on: July 31, 2011 10:21 pm

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

I say kansas should be the one to break up the 10 that were once 12! Go to the Big East, the Big 10, the Pac 12, the ACC, just go! Other wise kansas will be stuck at the last second trying to find a home.

Since: Jul 31, 2011
Posted on: July 31, 2011 9:54 pm

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

Dave Brown of LHN said that he is going to target recruits that Texas is recruiting inside and out of state. Their goal is not to showcase high school football for the good of the kids. Again, this is not speculation, Dave Brown said so himself that the selection of high school games would be based on recruits. This is dirty and it is cheating.

Since: Jan 21, 2010
Posted on: July 31, 2011 9:41 pm


Dr. Zenger, I'm begging you, please, Please, PLEASE get a Jayhawk Network started! Prepare the basketball team for independence! Talk to other conference commisioners in the Big 10, SEC, Big East. Do something! Anything! Don't be caught with your pants down when the Big 12 starts collapsing again!

Since: Jul 30, 2011
Posted on: July 31, 2011 9:29 pm

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

atm wants no part of the SEC.  they would be 2 and 9 every year.

Since: Jul 30, 2011
Posted on: July 31, 2011 9:28 pm

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

Texas gets it pick of recruits anyway, that won't change with high school games being broadcast or not.  the other schools are just sorry they didn't think of it first so they are trying to rain on the parade.  HS games make the channel more appealing than it is right now.  i sure won't be watching the tennis match or the school musical or the replay of games from years ago. 

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