ESPN Extension Caps Off Terrific Last 20 Months for WAC
Back-to-back BCS appearances and a National Championship in baseball over the past 20 months have culminated in a contract extension with ESPN that will provide unprecedented exposure for the Western Athletic Conference as announced today by WAC Commissioner Karl Benson and ESPN Senior Vice President Burke Magnus.
The WAC and ESPN have had a tremendous partnership over the years and the success of the conference the past two seasons has been recognized by the television sports leader with the contract extension. With two straight undefeated regular seasons in football by Boise State in 2006 and Hawaii last year, along with Fresno State’s championship run through last June’s College World Series, ESPN has chronicled the WAC’s national success. Last season’s WAC title game between Boise State and Hawaii on Nov. 23 was the most viewed regular season ESPN2 game last year.
As part of the agreement that runs through the spring of 2017, over 300 regular season WAC contests and 45 championship events will be aired on the ESPN networks.
Football: Double the number of games per year from eight to a minimum of 16 with at least 10 on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 and at least six on ESPNU. A minimum of nine games will be conference contests with an average of five on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. Every school will appear at least once on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.
Men’s Basketball: Quadruple the number of games per year with a minimum of six regular season games each year on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 (three must be conference games). The conference championship game and one semifinal will also be shown on one of the three networks. A minimum of six regular season games each year on ESPNU plus one quarterfinal game from the tournament. Every school will appear at least once on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.
Women’s Sports: Six regular season events (volleyball, basketball or softball) this year, seven next year and eight in 2010-11. The volleyball and women’s basketball championships will be aired on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.
"For the past five years, WAC football has benefited greatly from the exposure it has received from ESPN," said Benson. "The WAC values its relationship with the leader in college sports’ and is confident that this extension will allow WAC football to continue to be a prominent player in the BCS. But just as important, this deal will finally get the WAC’s men’s basketball teams the type of national exposure it deserves. And finally, for the first time ever, women’s basketball regular season games will be aired on the ESPN networks along with the championship contests for volleyball and women’s basketball."
"The WAC is a significant player on the college landscape and we are thrilled they will call ESPN home through 2016-17," said Magnus. "You can not talk championship level teams without including WAC members in that conversation. With this agreement, college sports fans will continue to see in a bigger and better way the quality and depth of the conference as well as the passion and enthusiasm of their supporters."
The 2008 football schedule includes over 50 games that will air during the season. ESPN will show 12 of those games nationally on its family of networks while many other games will be picked up by ESPN’s GamePlan package and will be available throughout the country.
The ESPN schedule kicked off last Saturday with an ESPN2 telecast of Louisiana Tech hosting Mississippi State. On September 13, a game between two top-25 teams will be featured with No. 11 Wisconsin traveling to 21st-ranked Fresno State.
The schedule resumes with six conference matchups beginning Wednesday, Oct. 1, when ESPN will televise the Louisiana Tech-Boise State game. Then, in mid-October, the WAC will be featured unopposed on five of the next seven Fridays. The first will be a showdown between the past two WAC champions as Boise State will host Hawaii on Oct. 17 at 6:00 p.m. MT on ESPN.
Additional games could be added throughout the season.
What others are saying around the WAC
Bob Kustra-Boise State President
Thomas Boeh-Fresno State AD
Pat Hill-Fresno State Head Football Coach
Dave Shoji, Hawaii Head Women’s Volleyball Coach
Rob Spear-Idaho AD
Cary Groth-Nevada AD
Mark Fox-Nevada Head Men’s Basketball Coach
Maria Roth-New Mexico State SWA
Darin Spence-New Mexico State Head Women’s Basketball Coach
Dick Tomey-San Jose State Head Football Coach
Stew Morrill-Utah State Head Men’s Basketball Coach
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