Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The "Longhorn Network" deal or NCAA violation?

The Longhorn Network Logo

We wondered the other day about reports Texas A&M was having meetings with their Board of Regents regarding the University of Texas's foray into cable programming with the "Longhorn Network".

Now we have a better idea why.

For those of you new to the story, Texas has a 20-year, $300 million deal in place with ESPN to create their own cable network. And our friends, the pillars of journalistic integrity, at ESPN are trying to come up with ways to program said network. It won't have a lot of Texas football, because most of those games are on the "Mothership" or ABC. It won't have a lot of basketball games, because the Big 12/10 has a deal with Fox Sports for that.

So they've come up with, what appears to be a plan. And that plan is to televise Texas High School sports. And the question the folks at A&M, and now the rest of us want to know: Is that not an NCAA violation? It sure seems like a recruiting advantage.

Gary Blair, the women's basketball coach at A&M tells the San Antonio Express News "If Brittney Griner was coming out of high school today and all of a sudden they decided to televise 8 of her home games, don't you think that would put Texas a leg up in recruiting".

A very good question.

Read the entire story from RIGHT HERE

Even more eyebrow raising after our pal Brooks at Sports by Brooks transcribed a radio interview with ESPN Programming VP Dave Brown, who coincidentally will run the new network, done by an Austin, Texas radio station.

In that interview, Brown talked at length about bringing High School games to the network that featured players the Longhorns would be recruiting. Hence, the questions begin. Is the network to help Texas make money or exploit a recruiting advantage?

Read the entire Sports by Brooks story (it's revealing) RIGHT HERE

There are several questions here that we hope are being brought to the attention of the thus-far very quiet NCAA. Yeah, we get the network needs programming. It's hard to program a 24-hour network if you don't have a lot of original programming. We work in the TV business ourselves, we get that.

What we don't get is why this would be allowed. Sure, they are certainly within their rights to do a TV Network. If the 4-letter is willing to pay $300 million for some Longhorn love, they are entitled to do just that. But they need to play by the rules. The same rules everyone else is supposed to.

There is a lot of concern that this will be new ground. That this will set the precedent for the other "Mega-Schools" to do the same thing. And it probably will. If Texas can get that kind of money, think about what, say, Alabama could get. Not only will they get paid, if the precedent is set, they'd get a built in recruiting tool that most of the rest of the conference wouldn't.

Let's hope A&M speaks "Loudly" to the NCAA about this. Especially since Oklahoma, who's also currently in their conference is about to do something similar. The only good thing is having two networks like that so close to each other is they'll cannibalize themselves for programming.

Listen to Matthew McConaughey sound like Darth Vader in the Death Star promo:

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