Posted on: August 15, 2011 6:24 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2011 10:18 am
NCAA president Mark Emmert has contacted various conference commissioners and school CEOs on the subject of conference realignment, the NCAA told CBSSports.com Monday.
There were no specifics but observers were wondering if Emmert would get involved in the increasingly volatile Texas A&M-to-SEC situation. A&M president R. Bowen Loftin was giving permission to pursue conference affilation issues by the school's board of regents Monday. However, Loftin, in a sometimes confusing interview session, said there was still a chance the school could stay in the Big 12.
The NCAA released this statement first to CBSSports.com through a spokesman:
"President Emmert has had conversations with a number of presidents and commissioners related to recent conference realignment issues and these discussions mirror many of the topics raised last week during the [Division I] presidential meetings."
The presidents came away from that meeting promising radical reform in academics and in enforcement.
What was once thought to be a slam-dunk, done deal for A&M is now fraught with legal entanglements. The New York Times reported that the SEC is possibly leaving itself open for a tortious interference claim should it be perceived that the league is raiding the Big 12. Texas A&M may be looking at a buyout that approaches $30 million if it leaves the Big 12 only 14 months after the 10 remaining schools made a 10-year pledge to stay together.
It's clear that ESPN has a major stake in the issues being discussed. It could be upset that if the SEC gets Texas A&M that would allow the conference to renegotiate a new deal at a higher dollar value. The SEC is two years into a 20-year, $3 billion deal with ESPN and CBS.
If A&M leaves, then that would put in jeopardy the future of the Big 12, which is due to go out to bid in an exclusive negotiating window with ESPN within the next two years. ESPN could also be concerned about the future of, and its investment in, the Longhorn Network at Texas.
In essence, ESPN would be paying more for the SEC but potentially lose a property in the Big 12 if that league breaks up. The net result, potentially, would be less inventory for ESPN to telecast. That's the reason why ESPN and Fox combined to save the Big 12 last summer. If it had dissolved, ESPN would have lost the Big 12 and possibiltiy been shut out of the Pac-12 if that league had gone on the open market.
As it stands, ESPN combined with Fox to get the rights to the new Pac-12.
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.
CBSSports.com obtained documents that show A&M wants TLN classified as an "institutional publication", per bylaw 126.96.36.199, 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 CBSSports.com 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.
Posted on: July 25, 2011 4:20 pm
Edited on: July 25, 2011 8:43 pm
The NCAA has called an Aug. 22 summit to discuss collegiate networks, CBSSports.com learned Monday afternoon.
Texas received a letter dated Monday from Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs, inviting it to participate in an "educational summit regarding NCAA member and conference networks broadcasting youth sports." The growing issue of broadcasting high school games has become big enough for the main stakeholders to discuss the issue. The meeting will include representatives from Texas, BYU, the Big Ten, Notre Dame, the Pac-12 and the Mountain West. All of those entities have or are starting collegiate networks.
The move almost assures that The Longhorn Network will launch Aug. 26 without broadcasting high school games at least at the beginning of the season. The issue has become the latest hot-button offseason item in college sports because of Texas A&M's concern over Texas gaining a recruiting advantage.
"I'm stunned [at some of this]," said Texas AD DeLoss Dodds. "We've been saying the same thing from the beginning of this. We are not and will never do anything [to violate rules]. I'm a little surprised people would be concerned about us doing something."
Dodds added that the Big 12 ADs will meet Aug. 1 to discuss the issue. Those ADs, minus Texas, are still considering starting their own network. The issues are significant and confusing enough that the NCAA seemingly hasn't been able to rule on the legality of Texas broadcasting high school games.
"If you read Sports Business Journal or the New York Times, you'll see that viewership is up but attendance is down," said A&M AD Bill Byrne. "I'm worried about that. Everybody has a big flat screen. I've got one at my house. If it's a bad day, you don't have to go out to the ballgame, you can stay home. I worry about overexposure."
Dodds also told CBSSports.com that Notre Dame may be interested in starting its own network after speaking to ND AD Jack Swarbrick.
Posted on: July 12, 2011 10:48 am
NCAA Football 12 is out today and I'm jacked. Hope the feeling is mutual because college football needs a break. The sport has been dipped in controversy, cheating, lawyers and courts too long this offseason. We need us some cfb even if it is from a PS3.
Quick background: For those of you who don't know, NCAA Football 12 is a video game. It is more addicting than 30 Rock depicting the thrills, detail and game day experience. This year's edition is the best yet. The Coaching Carousel function puts coaches on the hot seat. The new version includes the ability take the BCS out of the equation. That fantasy alone should be worth the $60 price. A MAC team can play in the Rose Bowl. The Big East can be kicked out of the BCS.
Think of the possibilities:
--Can't wait to play Ohio State in "shame" mode. That's assuming I can navigate my way through the "having a conscience" function to access the Buckeyes.
--Miami (Ohio) in the Rose Bowl. The RedHawks have never won a national championship in anything. Ever. This streak goes back a couple of centuries to when the school was founded. This being a video game is it possible Paul Brown (Class of '30) could jump on the dog pile if Miami beats USC for the national championship?
--Will asking the game to assemble the current membership of the WAC crash my PS3? Don't even try to sort out Legends and Leaders.
--If the Big East is cut out of BCS will West Virginia start an ugly rumor about the game's creator having a "reputation of being a partier"?
--Mascot mode must: Delanys vs. Slives.
--There has to be a seven-on-seven function where gamers start with $10,000 in funny money and can pay it out to players any way they want. Will Lyles could narrate the tutorial.
--In light of the upheaval at Ohio State and deadlines for the game's production I'm really interested in who will be coaching the Buckeyes. Mike Leach is available.
--Need input, gamers: Jordan Jefferson on EA: Cotton Bowl version or spring-game version?
--Does Texas Tech include Craig James on the sidelines or not?
--Where's the Pac-12 Network button?
--It seems only fitting that Mark Ingram graces the cover of this year's game. A tailback who won the Heisman in 2009 is pimping a fantasy version of the 2011 season marketed as NCAA 12.
Some things never change. In what might be an EA first, it is featuring a player whose school is currently on probation. Since 1987, Bama has been involved in more major football infractions cases (three) than national championships (two).
In this offseason of sleaze, there are some things you can't escape.
Posted on: June 10, 2011 1:40 pm
Edited on: June 10, 2011 1:41 pm
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- The architect of the latest round of conference realignment says the earthshaking hasn't stopped.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott told CBSSports.com that there could be more conference movement before 2020. Scott was named No. 1 Friday in CBSSports.com's college football top 100 for 2011.
"I don't see anything major on the horizon -- short term, a few years," Scott said. "I'd be surprised if in the second half of this decade, we don't see another major round."
What, he was asked, would set it off?
"It could be TV deals," he said. "It could be other politics and dynamics within the NCAA. If I had to guess I would say it would be economic. That's why I believed it made sense [to expand] and continues to make sense."
A marketplace starving for content and a bunch of major conferences coming up for rights fees renewal caused the latest shifts. Conference affiliation has become more about your rightsholder than your league partners. The leagues that have the most schools desirable to the networks make the most money. That's why we came close last year to ushering in the era of superconferences. Texas was seriously considering joining the Pac-10 a year ago.
It was last June when Scott narrowly missed shaking college athletics to its foundations with a bold play to lure half the Big 12 to the Pac-10 to form the Pac-16. The deal was all but done but ESPN and Fox intervened at the last minute making financial promises that essentially convinced Texas to stay in the Big 12.
Having to "settle" for expansion with Utah and Colorado, the Pac-12 still landed a record rights deal in May with the same two outlets. Fox and ESPN joined as partners in the Pac-12 deal to pay the league $3 billion over 12 years. What would a Pac-16 have been worth?
"It's hard to know," Scott said.
Given that a 12-team league that didn't include Texas was worth $3 billion, a 16-team conference with the Longhorns would have been worth at least $4.8 billion. That's a conservative estimate of $25 million per school multiplied by 12 years.
Would the Pac-12 still be interested in Texas? Any league would be interested in Texas. The Longhorns are happy for now, starting their own network within the framework of the now 10-team Big 12. But clearly the geographical challenges of flying from Austin to the West Coast didn't matter when Scott made his play last year.
"There was a 48-hour period during that week where it was close," said Chris Bevilacqua, the Pac-12 TV consultant.
Bevilacqua may be the first industry insider to admit that it was ESPN and Fox that saved the Big 12 a year ago. Neither network could afford for the Big 12 to go away so they both made financial promises in order to keep it together. Had the Big 12 broken up, that would have eliminated one BCS conference that accounts for 16 percent of the households in the middle of the country. With the Pac-10 going out to bid this year, there was a possibility that both ESPN and Fox would have been shut out of two BCS leagues.
The Big 12 recently signed a long-term deal with Fox for its secondary rights for $90 million per year.
"They [ESPN, Fox] conspired, of course they did," to save the Big 12, Bevilacqua said. "That's a fact."
Posted on: May 26, 2011 3:02 pm
Edited on: May 26, 2011 3:04 pm
One industry analyst told CBSSports.com Thursday that the Pac-12 could eventually take in $400 million per year when all its rights are accounted for. That would be a 40 percent bump in the current payout of $250 per year that begins in 2012.
The analyst was reacting to Wednesday's blog post when commissioner Larry Scott said Pac-12 Media Enterprises could bring in an additional $1 billion over the next seven-to-10 year period. That would be over and above the 12-year, $3 billion deal the conference signed with Fox and ESPN.
When the deal starts next year, the 12 schools will begin to split that $250 million or $20.8 million per school each year, on average.
The extra income would come from the yet-to-be valued media arm of the conference that bundles the network, digital rights and sponsorship and licensing. At $400 million, the schools would average $27.7 million per year.
"We're only at halftime here," said the analyst who did not want to be identified but is familiar with the Pac-12 situation. "There's probably another $50 million to $100 million a year [out there] ... We're getting into the $400 million-a-year stratosphere."
The conference continues to develop its strategy launch a conference network.
Posted on: May 25, 2011 6:37 pm
Edited on: May 25, 2011 6:38 pm
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- The Pac-12's financial momentum isn't about to slow.
Commissioner Larry Scott said Tuesday that the league's media arm could earn the conference an additional $1 billion over a seven-to-10 period. The previously announced Pac-12 Media Enterprises is a kind of holding company, according to Scott, that would bundle the league's new network, the digital rights and the conference's sponsorship and licensing (Pac-12 Properties).
The expanded conference is just beginning to realize its total worth as it seeks to start its own network. The $1 billion would be separate from the 12-year, $3 billion rights fees deal the Pac -12 finalized with ESPN and Fox earlier this month.
"I can tell you this, based on offers people have made to us we've got at least a billion-dollar business we're sitting on," Scott told CBSSports.com. "That's just Pac-12 Media Enterprises."
He later added: "That is a broad figure that has been thrown out to us by media investors. That's a potential minimum value over a seven-to-10 year period."
Dividing $1 billion among 12 schools could mean an additional $83 million is gross revenue total per school. Depending the on length of the deal, that means Pac-12 Media Enterprises alone could produce an additional $8.3 million-$11.9 million per year for each school. The schools already are guaranteed an average of $21 million per school in the ESPN-Fox deal.
Stanford AD Bob Bowlsby seemed to confirm another pending windfall for the conference telling CBSSports.com that the network and digital rights "may be worth well into eight figures per year." He added, "Time will tell on that. We may know something in the next 90 days."
Scott called Pac-12 Media Enterprises a "for-profit subsidiary of the conference."
"I'm not running from it," he added, "but I don't want to leave the impression that our primary focus is financial."
Scott, as well as industry insiders, is anxious to see the possibilities of the conference's network. The commissioner consulted with -- and gives a lot of credit to -- his peers at the Big Ten and SEC (Jim Delany and Mike Slive) who previously started similar ventures. All parties know the road to network profitability can be a long, hard slog. It took the Big Ten more than two years to realize a profit with its network. That was relatively fast for a start-up but no one knew in the beginning when that profit would come.
The Pac-12 is seemingly better positioned because Scott negotiated rights to first-tier games in football and basketball for his network. In other words, the Pac-12 Network (or whatever it is called) will have first choice of the best games for its air.
That situation will help with potential partners, distributors and advertisers. Scott said the league is still deciding how to deploy the network. First reports were that the Pac-12 would own it alone. That approach would maximize profits instead of having to share them with a partner. But Scott said several business models are still on the table.
Scott even foresees a situation where the Pac-12 Network could be shown on an existing channel. He used the example of the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) replacing what used to be Discovery Health.
The digital possibilities, he continues to say, are limitless. There are 2,700 Pac-12 "events" available for broadcast each year according to Pac-12 TV consultant Chris Bevilacqua. To date, only 131 of those have been sold. Scott wants Pac-12 content on every device imaginable. There already have been discussions with Google as a possible partner.
"It's hard to imagine now but I wouldn't be surprised that five-to-seven years from now we've got more fans on different devices other than TVs," Scott said.
Posted on: May 24, 2011 7:59 pm
Kevin Weiberg will not be the next executive director of the Fiesta Bowl CBSSports.com has learned.
The Pac-12 deputy commissioner and CEO was thought to be the favorite for the job that opened when John Junker was fired in March after a scandal that resulted in the bowl nearly being expelled from the BCS.
CBSSports.com reported on April 28 that the names of Weiberg, WAC commissioner Karl Benson and Big East associate commissioner Nick Carparelli had emerged in the search. Weiberg, 54, told CBSSports.com Tuesday that he was happy with his job. He is currently involved helping set up the conference's new network. The Fiesta expressed interest in interviewing Weiberg. The process was far from a formal job offer.
Earlier this month, the BCS fined the Fiesta $1 million for a lack of oversight during the scandal. The Fiesta was conditionally allowed to stay in the BCS. One of those conditions was that the bowl must consult with the BCS on the hiring of a new executive director.
Weiberg is a former Big Ten deputy commissioner who helped set up the conference's network. From 1998-2007 he was Big 12 commissioner. He resigned shortly after conference officials didn't follow his suggestion to consider starting a Big 12 network.