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A&M raising eyebrows at ESPNUT televising high school games

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Somewhat lost amidst the intense glare given off by the $300 million deal Texas signed with ESPN to create the Longhorn television network (Bevo-TV?  ESPNUT?) was the content that will be utilized to fill the 24-hour channel.

Specifically, the rather startling revelation that high school games — including football — are expected to be broadcast by the network.  How this is even possible, that a university-branded TV entity can televise games involving potential recruits, is at minimum head-scratching and raises a gigantic red NCAA flag the size of the state the network will be centered in.

And, of course, the televising of high school games, football and otherwise, has at least one in-state rival raising both flags and questions.

By way of the San Antonio Express-News, Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne seemed to intimate that he is hopeful the NCAA will look into the prep angle of Texas’ new network.

“I can’t speak for the NCAA, but I would imagine the governing body will look into the use of a collegiate television network airing games of prospective student-athletes,” Byrne said. “I understand networks such as FSN and ESPN airing high school sports, but whether or not employees under contract with a university that may have additional contact would seem to be an issue.”

The head coach of the Aggies’ women’s basketball team was even more succinct and direct when it comes to what impact the network could have on high school recruits.

“If Brittney Griner was coming out of high school today, and all of a sudden they decided to televise eight of her home games, don’t you think that would put Texas a leg up in recruiting?” Gary Blair asked rhetorically about the current Baylor star.

“Are we all still going to be on the same level playing field? I want to be on the same level playing field as much as I can, particularly in recruiting.”

An unnamed ESPN insider told the Express-News that a format or how extensive preps coverage will be has yet to be determined, but that in the end it will be “fair to all parties involved.”

We’ve attempted to get a comment from the NCAA on the situation but, frankly, there’s really not a need for official word.  Common sense would seem to dictate that you cannot allow a University of Texas network — or any other school, for that matter — to televise high school games.  There should be no question about that.

For all of the “clamping down” the NCAA has done on “outside influences” in the recruiting game, it would go beyond mere head-scratching if the governing body of collegiate athletics were to allow this aspect of the network, regardless of how profitable the deal as a whole is for the institution, to exist.

Then again, it is the NCAA we are talking about here, so “common sense” may not really have a prominent seat at the table.

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22 Responses to “A&M raising eyebrows at ESPNUT televising high school games”
  1. frug says: Jan 26, 2011 12:33 PM

    Unless the state legislature is willing to step in, there really isn’t much A&M can do. Basically all elementary, middle school and high school interscholastic activity (sports, debate, marching band, etc.) in the state of Texas are administered by the University Interscholastic League (UIL) which is legally a part of UT-Austin.

  2. seanmmartin says: Jan 26, 2011 12:34 PM

    That a singular university has an ESPN-affiliated broadcast seems preposterous enough.

    And I thought the Big Ten Network was bad…

  3. rolltide510 says: Jan 26, 2011 1:16 PM

    The NCAA seems to be doing the opposite of common sense lately.

  4. hafersvideo says: Jan 26, 2011 2:10 PM

    You thought the Big Ten Network was bad? Are you kidding me?

    Have you not noticed it’s SEC ESPN, not just ESPN that shows SEC games?

    Have you noticed ESPN shows a ‘Roll Tide’ Alabama commercial all the time during regular programming when no Alabama game is being broadcast?

    I watched the Oregon vs University of Arizona football game this year and ESPN left the SEC logo where it should just say ESPN on the score display for almost the entire first quarter. During a PAC-10 game. They are the Fox News of sports. It’s amazing their are actually endorsing a party outside of their own party, the SEC.

    You thought the Big Ten Network was bad?

    No, ESPN is far, far over the line. Their journalistic integrity has been replaced by their bias. This is just another example of ESPN showing favoratism in a place where the NCAA should be stepping in to keep the playing field level.

    The SEC has a network called ESPN, the main ESPN, not a branch. And you thought the Big Ten Network was bad? Hilarious.

  5. hafersvideo says: Jan 26, 2011 3:03 PM

    Just look at the BCS championship game on ESPN. Who did ESPN have on at halftime? Two SEC coaches. What, ESPN, you couldn’t get a hold of a PAC-10 coach?

    Go ahead and give me a thumbs down, but you can’t actually argue the facts can you SEC fans?

    Stay classy SEC/ESPN.

  6. seanmmartin says: Jan 26, 2011 3:11 PM

    The SEC with CBS and ESPN is a different animal. I don’t want to tackle it…

  7. brownstown2 says: Jan 26, 2011 3:13 PM

    Just another step in the disturbing glorification of HS athletes. Does anyone, other than Lane Kiffin, enjoy watching 14/15/16/17/18 YO kids that much? You should have to register with the local authorities if you follow HS athletes that closely.

    Football is getting closer and closer to emulating the AAU basketball system. If the NFL ever ditches the 3 year rule for draft eligibility, look out.

  8. seanmmartin says: Jan 26, 2011 3:17 PM

    NFL will never ditch the 3-year rule. How do I know? Because they make a huge fuss about concussions–not that that is a bad thing; I like love the 3-year rule.

    Also, regarding Lane Kiffin; it wasn’t a 14/15/16/17/18 year old… he was 13. How messed up is that?

  9. gamustangdude says: Jan 26, 2011 4:04 PM


    I think Meyer and Saban were on there more so for winning previous National titles opposed to your logic of being SEC Coaches. (However, only 1 is still a current Coach). The reason there was not a single PAC-10 Coach on is simply because they couldn’t find any who’ve won a national title game recently (BCS or any other). Especially since that former USC coach was probably busy doing NFL type stuff.

  10. cometkazie says: Jan 26, 2011 6:40 PM

    gamustangdude says:
    Jan 26, 2011 4:04 PM

    I think Meyer and Saban were on there more so for winning previous National titles opposed to your logic of being SEC Coaches. (However, only 1 is still a current Coach). The reason there was not a single PAC-10 Coach on is simply because they couldn’t find any who’ve won a national title game recently (BCS or any other). Especially since that former USC coach was probably busy doing NFL type stuff.
    = = = = =

    I thought, also, that Sabin and Meyer provided commentary about a zillion orders of magnitude better than the usual crap you hear from people that are supposed to know what they are talking about at halftime.

    What two college coaches would you rate higher and would be more interesting to hear?

  11. seanmmartin says: Jan 26, 2011 6:48 PM

    I don’t think that Meyer and Saban were aired during the BCS national championship solely because they hail from the SEC.

    Meyer retired and any/every sports broadcasting company would LOVE to have him.

    Saban nearly beat Auburn, so he offered insight to playing Auburn.

    I think they should have offered an invite to a Pac-10 coach. Any Pac-10 coach would have been a great pick. Steve Sarkisian or Jeff Tedford pop out first in my mind as to whom I would invite.

  12. burntorangehorn says: Jan 26, 2011 11:12 PM

    Funny that frug’s comment received so many thumbs down, despite the fact that he/she simply stated the fact that the UT system administers sports in Texas public education.

    At any rate, little sister (aggie) is always going to be jealous of what it perceives as competitive disadvantages. This is not news, and JT, sorry: the editorial commentary in it isn’t particularly well-reasoned.

  13. tendigitpoet says: Jan 27, 2011 5:58 AM

    @ burntorangehorn

    The thumbs down aren’t for the comment, but for the situation. I’d never heard of a university organization administering high school sports and my impression is a conflict of interest would exist for that.

  14. edgy says: Jan 27, 2011 12:13 PM

    When the story about ESPN and UT came out, I had thought about them broadcasting high school games but I also thought about how much of an advantage it would give them (even more so than just having the channel) and I dismissed it. I think that the NCAA has to plug this hole up yesterday, if not sooner because it’s too much of an advantage for Texas. I don’t even know if allowing only high school sports outside of the Big 3 would be good enough to keep it from being a total conflict of interest. Texas, like Oklahoma, already has a huge in-state advantage so why give them any more?

  15. frug says: Jan 27, 2011 2:47 PM


    What you and John missed (as burntorangehorn said) is that there really is nothing the NCAA can do about this. While it unquestionably gives UT an advantage in recruiting, the fact is the broadcast rights to those games belong to the school and NCAA can’t block Texas from exploiting those rights any more than they could stop Texas from selling the broadcast rights to it’s track and field team. Yes it’s a crappy situation for everybody but UT but ultimately the only people who can do anything about is the Texas legislature.

  16. hafersvideo says: Jan 27, 2011 3:02 PM


    Have to agree with all of your statements.

    And, if you are right about why Saban was on, you’re definitely right Tedford should be on–Cal beat Oregon except for an offside penalty on the kicker.

    It just seems more and more ESPN is fine with because it serves their purposes, and their clients’. Allowing certain schools/conferences advantages (financially and marketing wise) really takes away from the amateur status that the NCAA supposedly is so keen on maintaining.

  17. edgy says: Jan 27, 2011 5:01 PM

    frug says:



    Really? The Twitter and Facebook rights belong to them as well. Do you think that they can’t do anything about that? I guess all those secondary violations are just a figment of their imagination and none of those schools should be sanctioned, right? How about the text messages? Coaches can get spanked for those; does the NCAA own the rights to text messages? There was a time that people said that the NCAA couldn’t do anything about that and they turned out to be wrong.

  18. frug says: Jan 27, 2011 5:15 PM


    What in the world does broadcasting games have anything to do with text messaging or facebook? The NCAA can regulate the manner in which school officials contact potential recruits. What they can not do is determine how schools choose to exploit their tertiary rights. The two issues aren’t even apples and oranges, they’re apples and nuclear power reactors. They have nothing to do with each other.

  19. edgy says: Jan 27, 2011 5:34 PM

    You’re right, the NCAA can’t do anything at all about anything that the schools do. If the coaches wanted to go in front of the camera and tell everyone that they’d give their right and left nuts to sign recruit X, there’s not a GD thing that the NCAA can do about that — right….right…right????????

  20. frug says: Jan 27, 2011 6:09 PM

    If that’s what the network was going to do then yeah, that would be impermissible contact. In fact it would be a blatant violation of recruiting rules. As would Mack Brown going on the station and declaring that he would provide cocaine and hookers to anyone who agreed to attend UT. So would the AD threatening to go on a killing spree if recruit X didn’t sign a LoI.

    Except the network won’t be doing that.

    They’ll be bringing cameras to sporting events, recording said events and then broadcasting those recordings. And there is absolutely nothing in the NCAA bylaws that would prohibit ESPN (who will actually own and operate the network) from broadcasting sporting events whose broadcast rights it legally purchased. This unquestionably gives UT an advantage in recruiting but the only thing the NCAA can do is ask ESPN not to air high school events and if that doesn’t work appealing to the state legislature.

    (And for the record I’m not a UT apologist. In fact I was born and raised in Oklahoma and hate the Longhorns)

  21. edgy says: Jan 27, 2011 7:56 PM

    Here’s something from the guy AT ESPN, who is pusisng this. Notice his wording and the fact that he thinks that he insisted that the coverage plan won’t jeopardize UT’s principles of abiding by NCAA rules. Seems to me that he doesn’t think that this is the slam dunk that you do and that “What they can not do is determine how schools choose to exploit their tertiary rights” as you’ve said. Read it and notice that there’s a little of hedging on his part AND that they’re doing their best to make sure that you know that it was ESPN and NOT Texas that wants this and — gasp– they’re running it by Texas’ compliance department because apparently, unlike you, they’re worried about what the NCAA could do.

  22. edgy says: Jan 27, 2011 8:55 PM

    pusisng? God, I hate this keyboard. :)


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