Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Big Ten Will Be All Over the Tube On ABC, ESPN and Fox; Drake's Women's Basketball Team Plays In Cancun Next November

The Big Ten today outlined new agreements with ABC-TV, ESPN and Fox Cable Networks that will provide Iowa and the league’s other 10 institutions with national television exposure for more sports than ever before in conference history.

“The real winners of these new initiatives are our institutions, our intercollegiate athletics programs, and our many friends and fans,” said Iowa athletic director Bob Bowlsby [right].

“Our institutions gain hundreds of hours of programming time to highlight their research and educational programs to a national audience. Our athletic programs benefit from significant new opportunities for sports offered across the league. And, our fans benefit from greater access to more events and more programming than ever before in our league’s history.”

Bowlsby said the new agreements speak directly to the Big Ten’s ability to maximize opportunities for the benefit of its member institutions and to forge long-term partnerships with “Best in Class” business partners.

“The Big Ten and its television partners have once again set the standard by which everyone will be measured. These agreements are proactive, entrepreneurial undertakings that will have long-term benefits for the University of Iowa and the hundreds of talented student-athletes who will participate in our intercollegiate athletics program in the years to come,” Bowlsby said.

“I personally want to thank Commissioner (Jim) Delany for his leadership and vision. Jim and his staff have worked tirelessly on behalf of the University of Iowa and the league’s other 10 member institutions. He has proven again why he is the absolute best in the business of intercollegiate athletics and is held in such high esteem by his peers,” Bowlsby added.


The Big Ten and ABC/ESPN announced a 10-year agreement that will enhance the opportunities for Big Ten football and men’s basketball teams while delivering 100 women’s basketball and volleyball events over the term of the agreement. Included in that collection of events is the championship game of the Big Ten women’s basketball tournament.

Beginning with the 2007-08 academic year, the Big Ten’s new agreement with ABC and ESPN will result in up to 41 football games involving Big Ten teams being televised by either ABC or ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPN Classic. Afternoon football games aired regionally on ABC will also air on ESPN or ESPN2 in outer markets, making these games available to a national audience.

“The relationship with ABC has served as the cornerstone of the league’s efforts in support of its football programs. It is exciting for fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes, the Big Ten and college football to not only see this relationship continue, but for it to reach new heights in both the number of events televised live and the number of fans and friends who will have access to every broadcast,” said Bowlsby.

“There is no question that the agreement with ABC/ESPN provides greater exposure to our sports on a national basis. This is very significant to a wide variety of constituencies including our many alumni, friends, former student-athletes and future student-athletes.”

Iowa appeared on ABC three times in 2005 and all three games were televised to a regional audience. The Hawkeyes played four games in 2005 that were televised to a national audience by either ESPN or ESPN2.

Iowa’s 2006 television schedule already includes one game on ABC that will be available on a regional basis (Sept. 9 at Syracuse), one game on ESPN (Sept. 16 vs. Iowa State), and one game on ESPNU (Sept 2 against Montana). Iowa’s Sept. 30 date with Ohio State will be televised live by either ABC or ESPN. Iowa expects all 12 of its 2006 regular season football games to be televised live, a mark that will extend the school's streak of consecutive games televised live to 64.

“From my perspective, the Big Ten has successfully taken a very proactive approach that offers significant opportunities to many of the sports programs that don’t enjoy the television exposure currently afforded our football and men’s basketball programs. I’m very excited for the student-athletes and coaches of those programs,” said Kirk Ferentz, head coach of the UI’s nationally ranked football program.

“With respect to football, it’s certainly beneficial to know that every game we play that is televised live by any of the Big Ten’s television partners will be available to fans of the Hawkeyes on a national basis,” Ferentz added.

“It’s also important for the parents and friends and family members of our current student-athletes and, of course, important for the talented high school student-athletes and parents involved in the recruiting process.”

ESPN and ESPN2 will televise approximately 60 Big Ten men’s basketball games – a total that is nearly double that which will be televised live this coming academic year by ESPN and ESPN2. The schedule will include Tuesday and Thursday night broadcasts during the nine-week Big Ten schedule and up to eight Saturday broadcasts.

Every game played by the Iowa men’s basketball team last season was televised live. That total included 10 games televised by either ESPN or ESPN2.

ESPN will continue its support of Big Ten volleyball and women’s basketball at levels that exceed the current agreement.


The Big Ten also announced it had entered into a 20-year partnership with Fox Cable Networks to create the Big Ten Channel. The Big Ten will be the majority owner and Fox the minority owner of the Big Ten Channel, a new 365-days per year television network that promises to be the television destination for fans of the Hawkeyes and the league’s other 10 athletic programs.

The Big Ten Channel will broadcast live on a national basis. Programming will include, but is not limited to, 35-plus football games with each school having at least two games broadcast, at least 105 regular-season men’s basketball games, at least 55 regular-season women’s basketball games, a series of Olympic sporting events and a number of Big Ten championships.

“I see the Big Ten Channel advancing a long list of sports programs forward by providing opportunities that never before existed,” said Cindy Fredrick, head coach of Iowa's volleyball program.

“The impact of weekly television exposure during our competitive seasons for our volleyball, field hockey, wrestling, softball and baseball programs, to name a few, on a television channel that is available across the country is remarkable.”

The Big Ten Channel will also broadcast “Classic” events from its library of archived programming including memorable regular season events and post-season bowl games, basketball tournament games and championship events, weekly coaches’ shows and other programming produced by each institution, and 660 hours of non-athletic programming produced by the institutions.

The Big Ten Channel will be launched in August, 2007. It will be available on a non-exclusive basis to all cable television and satellite television distributors as part of their “basic” level of service. Fox has already entered into a charter affiliation agreement with DIRECTV, which will carry the Channel at launch nationwide on its “Total Choice” package, DIRECTV’s most broadly distributed tier, currently received by more than 15.4 million households.

“The Big Ten Channel provides an enormous opportunity to reach thousands of University of Iowa alumni and friends, millions of Big Ten alumni and friends, and fans of college athletics in general in Iowa, in the midwest and across the country,” said Bowlsby.

“It also raises the bar significantly for many of our sports programs by delivering live television coverage of a greater number events to a national audience more often than ever before in our league’s history.”

Bowlsby said the Big Ten Channel provides the Big Ten, the university and the other member institutions the very best opportunity to maximize the “brand” of the Big Ten.

“The Big Ten Channel moves everyone forward and, in many places, significantly forward. It is a very proactive, creative approach that offers the University of Iowa, its faculty and staff, its coaches, its student-athletes, its alumni, fans and friends remarkable opportunities,” he said.


The combination of a significant increase in programming that will be available to a larger number of potential viewers is the dynamic that excites Bowlsby.

“We move from 279 events broadcast on a national, regional or local basis this coming academic year to more than 500 events all available on a national basis in 2007-08. That is powerful and unprecedented,” he said.

The new agreements also have a positive impact on the university financially. The UI Department of Intercollegiate Athletics will receive approximately $7.5 million in additional revenue from the Big Ten in the first year of the new agreements.

“The additional revenue from these agreements should allow the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics to support significant future commitments, including opportunities for student-athletes that were identified in the recent self-study for NCAA certification,” said Gary Fethke, Iowa's interim president.

“The new revenue will also help fund athletics facilities renewal and improvement and help cover inflationary increases in costs such as scholarships, energy, transportation and medical care.

Fethke said the annual budgeting process for fiscal year 2007-08 –- the first year of the new agreements – will take into consideration the revenues embodied in the agreements and that Iowa's new athletic director will work with university administration in developing the budget that will ultimately be reviewed and approved by the Board of Regents in the spring of 2007.

“We are delighted that the Big Ten has renewed its relationship with ABC and ESPN, and it is partnering with Fox to create the Big Ten Channel,” Fethke added.

"The Big Ten Channel promises to be a tremendous platform for presenting the breadth and quality of our academic and athletics programs to the entire nation. In addition to what it will offer our student-athletes and our many friends and fans, the Big Ten Channel will provide our faculty, staff and students new opportunities to make the nation aware of the best we have to offer in teaching, research and service.”

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Bud Appleby of Des Moines writes:

"I don't think Drake has announced it yet, but the women's basketball team will play in a tournament at Cancun, Mexico, in November."

Appleby sent me a release from Monmouth Univresity of West Long Branch, N.J., that says the Bulldogs will be among the teams playing in the Caribbean Classic in Cancun.

Drake coach Amy Stephens was vacationing in Mexico when her new boss, athletic director Sandy Hatfield Clubb, was introduced a couple of weeks ago.

Here's the release from Monmouth:

Monmouth University women’s basketball coach Michele Baxter announced the program’s 2006-20007 schedule today, which includes visits from Rice University and American University as well as the Blue and White traveling to Cancun, Mexico to participate in the Caribbean Classic. The Hawks have 29 contests on the schedule with 16 of those games being played in Boylan Gym.

The Blue and White opens its 2006-2007 schedule with three consecutive home games as they play host to Rice on Friday, Nov. 10 in the opener, followed by Rider on Nov. 17 and St. Peter’s on Nov. 20.

The Hawks then travel to Cancun, Mexico, to participate in the Caribbean Classic. Monmouth joins Indiana State, Richmond, Drake, Bucknell and Marshall as the six teams in the annual classic.