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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Big 12 hooks ’Horns’ prep plans

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— Big 12 Conference athletic directors voted Monday to prohibit the broadcast of any high school sporting events on the newly created Longhorn Network for at least the next year.

The conference announced that the ADs voted unanimously to forbid such content on any medium branded as a conference or member institution platform. Controversy had been stirred up at the suggestion that Texas could show games featuring players it was recruiting on its network set to launch this month.

The athletic directors instituted a one-year moratorium and decided that it would not be lifted unless the NCAA rules that such content would be permissible. The ADs also suggested that the Big 12’s board of directors should encourage the NCAA to impose a similar one-year moratorium across the country.

The ADs also decided that any conference game aired on the Longhorn Network would require approval of the conference and the opposing school.

“As we’ve said, we recognize the need for ongoing discussion to properly address the questions raised by the conference. Longhorn Network will televise unprecedented coverage of more than 200 UT athletics events annually plus a variety of dynamic, relevant programming,” ESPN spokeswoman Keri Potts said in a statement.

Texas is the only Big 12 school with a network that qualifies so far, although Texas A&M and Oklahoma have discussed putting one together. The Longhorn Network — created through a 20-year, $300 million deal with ESPN — is set to launch Aug. 26.

Last week at Big 12 media days, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said it was “a lack of common sense there to think that the network, the university network, can have high school games.”

“I think that all the NCAA recruiting rules are really directed toward unfair advantage, and I think being able to broadcast high school games on my branded network probably creates an advantage for me over others,” Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis said last week.

“So, I don’t think that’s in the best interests of the conference to do that.”

Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds has also raised the possibility that the network could air games on the channel, but remove the Longhorn brand to limit the impact on recruiting.

The ability to start its own network helped keep Texas in the Big 12 after being courted by the Pac-10 last summer. The expanded Pac-12 announced its own nationwide network last week, along with six regional networks that will be shared by two schools apiece.

Comments

jhox 3 years, 3 months ago

There were a lot of rumors floating around over the weekend. Who knows if there was any merit to them, but they were remarkably similar in content. Perhaps one person floated them, and they took off, but they were definitely similar in thier speculation. They had A&M and MU working behind the scenes to get SEC membership, and OU and OSU going after Pac 12 membership (some also had Tech and Baylor trying to get Pac 12 invites as well.) They nearly all suggested KU has been talking with the Big East, and that KSU is part of the Big East discussions as well.

I have to believe it is just a matter of time before someone bolts the Big 12, and brings down the conference once and for all. It just doesn't work well when one school (Texas) has too much power and influence. Any time that happens, there is going to be jealousy. It simply can't work long term .

This crisis may be averted, for now, but I have a feeling the Big 12 will be short lived. I hope I'm wrong about that, because the Big 12 works best for KU, but we better be keeping our options open.

WestNEHawk 3 years, 3 months ago

I think you allow texass to go independent in football. Then the remaining members of the conference set the standards as to allowing the other texass sports to stay in the conference. None of the other sports can go independent and texass needs to have them affiliated in a conference.

Steve Corder 3 years, 3 months ago

Regional conferences will continue for "non revenue" sports. Travel costs and time make it extremely impractical to think otherwise. However, football and mens basketball are a different case.

Texas had better be careful how far and hard they push the B12 members. UT may be king in the B12 but they would not be so powerful in the other mentioned conferences. That was shown last year by the way UT reacted to TxA&M's expressed interest in going "east" when UT had everyone going "west". The UT people threw a temper tantrum.

I wouldn't cast aside the B12 as if it is only a matter of time. The deal struck last summer proves that.

jhox 3 years, 3 months ago

The interesting part of one of the articles I read, indicated that ESPN has actually been calling the shots in relation to televising the high school games on the UT network. It implied that even if Texas wanted to pull the plug on the plan (in order to avoid breaking up the conference), that ESPN had final say. Fortunately, the Big 12 stepped in and took it out of ESPN's hands. I hope the NCAA also makes a ruling on this before it comes up next year.

I always felt that if push came to shove, Texas would back down, because they are now tied to this conference more than probably any other school. Their contract for the UT Network assures that. No other major conference would allow it (though I've seen speculation the Big 10 would allow them to keep it if they wanted to join, on the condition that Texas split the proceeds equally.) By my calculations that would mean probably a $10 million annual loss of TV revenues to Texas (factoring in the Big 10's larger payouts, but Texas splitting the UT network equally among the other programs.)

ESPN is apparently scrambling to try to figure out how to make money off of the UT Network. The high school games were a big part of their plan to sell the network to subscribers. Don't expect ESPN to sit around and lose money on their contract with Texas. This is going to get messy.

Don't expect A&M, MU and OU to sit around and wait for things to come to a head either. All it takes is one of those schools leaving the conference, and the Big 12 is likely done. I'm not sure the Texas legislature would allow A&M to be the first of the schools to leave, because of the impact on the remaining 4 Texas schools, but I could definitely see MU and OU out there trying to negotiate a good deal for themselves, and I can't say I blame them.

utahjayhawk 3 years, 3 months ago

Good points jhox. I don't know where we were in doing a deal last summer but i thought that was our best chance and it was with the Pac 12. The Big East is the absolute worst conference affiliation from a geographic standpoint and weakens further what we need to drive forward, growth in football with a strong fball conf. The BE is definitely weak in that area and would do little to incentivize us to improve in that vital area.

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