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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, November 5, 2002

WAC working on new TV deal

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer

The Western Athletic Conference and ESPN have begun preliminary negotiations on a multiyear television agreement, commissioner Karl Benson said.

The current three-year deal, valued at less than $1 million, expires at the conclusion of the 2003-04 school year.

Benson said he and a select group of athletic directors from conference schools will meet with ESPN officials in Bristol, Conn., next month in another round of talks.

Benson said he believes, "we've brought a lot of value to the deal and ESPN is pleased with the product we've been providing."

An ESPN spokesman declined to discuss the contract but said, "our association with the conference has been great for us, especially last year with Fresno State and David Carr. That was huge for us."

Under the terms of the current deal, ESPN is contracted to televise a minimum of four regular-season football and three regular-season basketball games per year.

Four UH football games — including the Nov. 30 meeting with Alabama and Christmas Day ConAgra Foods Hawai'i Bowl — will be shown this year. Two UH men's basketball games will also be televised.

The WAC is seeking additional exposure and enhanced rights fees for the future. Meanwhile, ESPN is believed interested in expanding its regional television component. ESPN Regional Television carried the UH-Boise State football game, which wasn't part of the national package.

Previously the WAC had a two-year deal with Fox Sports.