Did ESPN Help Lead To The Demise Of the Big East?

Posted on Oct 11 2011 - 10:32am by Brent Lepping

According to CBS’ Gary Parrish, absolutely, the four letter network played a huge role in the crumbling state of Big East athletics. When I first read this story, the first thing that stated racing through my mind was the lack of coverage on ‘Sportscenter’ and other ESPN news programs. While most other websites have devoted several columns and nonstop television coverage of the ever-changing landscape of conference realignment – particularly what’s going on with the Big East and Big 12 – it’s true that you see very little mention of it through the various outlets of ESPN. Now, some of it could be due to the fact that many people are getting sick and tired of the whole roller coaster ride and simply aren’t interested in hearing about anything until it’s a done deal. But, it’s hard not to see some connections in the demise of the Big East and ESPN. Remember, the Big East rejected a huge ESPN TV deal last year and there’s no question that it helped fuel some serious disconnect between the two sides.  Here’s a quick excerpt of the column, and you can read the rest here.

Men who have known each other for decades and labeled themselves friends have spent months lying to and backstabbing each other, and they do it with no apologies and few regrets. Everybody is out for themselves. A kill-or-be-killed mindset has taken over.

The resulting stories have been eye-opening — none more than a report in this weekend’s Boston Globe that featured the following quote from Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo on the subject of the ACC’s decision to poach Syracuse and Pittsburgh from the Big East: “We always keep our television partners close to us. … TV — ESPN — is the one who told us what to do.”

Is this surprising?

Absolutely not — because there’s been speculation for months that the Big East sealed its fate last May when it rejected a nine-year, $1.4 billion television contract from ESPN. Long story not so long, the Big East decided it would rather open up bidding to NBC and Fox than accept that deal from ESPN, meaning the Big East was probably going to sign a deal with NBC or Fox, meaning NBC or Fox likely was on the verge of gaining a relevant share of the college sports landscape, and that’s not something ESPN (or anybody in ESPN’s position of power) would have liked.

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  1. Justin December 8, 2011 at 4:51 am - Reply

    In September when 'Cuse and Pitt announced, it was an $880-million deal, then that morphed into "a nearly billion dollar deal," which became during the BYU debate a "$1.2-billion offer from espn," and now I'm seeing "$1.4-billion television contract." So what was it really?

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