WAC rejects ESPN's extension
For the second time in a year, the Western Athletic Conference has rejected an ESPN proposal to extend their existing television agreement, the parties said yesterday.
WAC Commissioner Karl Benson said the conference's board of directors voted the latest offer down this month primarily over "financial terms."
He refused to disclose the offer or the margin by which the presidents and chancellors of the nine member institutions voted it down.
An ESPN spokesman would only say, "we could not reach an agreement."
But with the current six-year deal scheduled to run through the 2009-'10 academic year, Benson said, "we have a couple more years (to work on it)."
The existing agreement pays the WAC approximately $6 million over 6 years and guarantees a minimum number of appearances for football (8) and men's basketball (3) each season spread over the ESPN network of ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. Both subsequent offers have carried improved financial terms, but Benson said, "I can't disclose how much."
The proposed package "would have included a greater number of basketball telecasts for men and it also would have represented women's volleyball and women's basketball programming," Benson said. ESPN has not carried WAC volleyball previously as part of its contract.
UH is scheduled to have four of its 12 football games shown on the ESPN network this season. ESPN is scheduled to show 10 WAC football games this season.
The WAC also has sought a rights fee more in line with the seven-year, $48 million deal the Mountain West Conference has with College Sports Television. The MWC, however, has been burdened by a deal where many of its televised games are not available in areas represented by conference members.
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