Networks moved World Series games to night and then late in the evening so more and more games end after midnight. NBA games are enduring the same situation. Now ESPN has funded the Longhorn Network for the University of Texas and a nightmare ensued.
ESPN has $300 million invested into the new network over 20 years. Certainly none of the Big 12 schools are happy about it. Mack Brown isn’t pleased with the amount access the network wants from him and his team. Now the NCAA has come down with a ruling that ESPN and Texas High Schools cannot be happy with.
Thursday the NCAA announced that it will not allow events involving high school athletes on television networks that are affiliated with universities or athletic conferences. NCAA president Mark Emmert said the governing body’s staff had concluded that televising events involving high school athletes was impermissible under existing NCAA bylaws.
If, as Emmert responded, televising events involving HS athletes was impermissible under existing NCAA bylaws; did it take so long to rule on? Most of the schools in the conference first brought this issue to light immediately. It was brought to light on this forum by this writer in June.
All they had to do was look at the Big Ten network. In existence for years, the Big Ten network has never asked nor even promoted any High School activities on their network. Yet upon implementation of the new network, ESPN and the University announced they would look into televising High School games.
High School games on the Longhorn network were seen as a recruiting advantage to Texas. Other Big 12 schools would not be showcased and thus, only Texas would be mentioned to these athletes. Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds has not uttered a comment.
Emmert said a meeting already scheduled for Aug. 22 in Indianapolis will allow for discussion on the entire issue of university- and conference-affiliated networks will be held. Why is a meeting needed to discuss this issue when ESPN is suddenly involved? Emmert says the NCAA needs to get their arms around this issue.
Jim Delany, commissioner of the Big Ten formed the Big Ten Network. At first ESPN wanted to be involved however the conference declined their overtures. No problems have arisen from this network. However now ESPN has instituted the Longhorn Network and suddenly there are problems.
Another problem this network has caused is with Texas A & M. The Longhorn Network has caused concern among all the Big 12 schools, and is believed to be the reason why Texas A&M has renewed its courtship with the SEC. The Aggies would like a level playing field. Schools have already left the Big 12 and many may still leave because of this network.
It is dangerous to allow a single school to have their own network. It causes many troubles, including ratings. Networks live and die with ratings. Wins mean ratings. Nobody wants to watch a losing team. So if Texas doesn’t win, do they cheat to get better ratings?
ESPN is leaving the sports reporting world and entering the difference making arena. This is a very slippery slope.