Pac-12 lands blockbuster media rights deal

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Move over SEC and Big Ten, and make some room at the big boy television rights table.  You’ve got some additional — and well-heeled — company.

Following up on reports that Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott (pictured, right) (not really) was hoping to land a deal in the very affluent neighborhood of $225-$250 million a year, the Sports Business Journal is reporting that the newly-expanded conference has done just that.

According to the publication, and citing multiple unnamed sources, the Pac-12 has agreed to a media rights deal with ESPN and Fox that is worth more than $2.7B over 12 years.  That averages out to $225 million annually, more than triple what the conference’s current deal with the same broadcast entities paid out.

And, in the interest of full disclosure, Comcast/NBC Universal pulled out of the bidding last week for the rights package to the conference, the SBD reports.

ESPN, the website writes, has committed to carrying an unknown number of football games in primetime on ABC, while FOX will air games in primetime on both their broadcast channels and cable channel F/X.  ESPN and FOX will rotate the televising of the conference’s newly-minted championship game.

The Pac-12’s new deal trumps that of the Big Ten (estimated $212 annually in their deals with ESPN, CBS and the Big Ten Network) and SEC ($205 million, ESPN and CBS), and involves not only football, but basketball and Olympic sports as well.  It should also be noted that, when the current deals of the SEC and Big Ten expire in the future and are open for bidding, they will likely blow the Pac-12’s new landmark deal out of the water.

Regardless of how long this new deal remains the collegiate benchmark, though, kudos to Commissioner Scott and his team for what they’ve accomplished over the past several months and in wringing every last dollar out of a pair of networks.  Excellent, excellent work Mr. Scott.  You’re bosses should be proud.  And ready to give you a well-deserved raise.

UPDATED 10:28 a.m. ET: After Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News noted on Twitter that the schools in the Pac-12 would average $18.75 million annually under the new deal, Kyle Veazey of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger noted back that each SEC school pulled in $18.3 million in 2009-2010.

UPDATED 11:39 a.m. ET: The New York Times is reporting that the actual numbers on the new Pac-12 deal are even more astounding than initially reported.  According to the Times, the conference will receive $250 million annually, more than quadruple their previous revenue from the same media stream.  Using the Times‘ set of numbers, each individual school would receive roughly $21 million annually.

In addition to the agreements reached with FOX and ESPN, the Pac-12 will also create its own television network.  Unlike the Big Ten Network, however, the Pac-12’s network will be wholly owned by the conference.  The downside of that arrangement is all of the risk, including start-up costs from scratch, falls squarely on the conference.  The upside, however, is that all of the profit will tumble directly into the conference’s coffers.

The Pac-12 is expected to officially announce the new deals, which will go into effect for the 2012-2013 school year, Wednesday.

Report: North Texas adds FCS running back transfer

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North Texas is adding running back Loren Easly to the roster, according to a message posted to his Twitter account Saturday.

Easly spent the past two seasons at Stephen F. Austin, a member of the FCS Southland Conference. A Houston native, he appeared in 20 games over two seasons as a Lumberjack, carrying 213 times for 1,256 yards with 11 touchdowns while adding 17 catches for 139 yards.

Denton Record-Chronicle reporter Brett Vito confirmed the transfer on his Twitter account.

As an interdivisional transfer, Easly will be able to play immediately with two seasons of eligibility remaining.

He would join a backfield led by rising senior Jeffrey Wilson, who paced the Mean Green with 936 yards and 14 touchdowns on 169 carries in 2016.

Kansas AD Sheahon Zenger signs extension, vows to fix football

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Kansas athletics director Sheahon Zenger has signed an extension to remain on the job through the 2020-21 academic year, the school announced Sunday.

Zenger has been on the job since 2011, meaning the new deal will take him past the decade mark in Lawrence.

“Since Sheahon’s arrival in Jan. 2011, Kansas Athletics has enjoyed success on and off the field,” Kansas chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a statement. “I am confident that under Sheahon’s leadership Athletics will experience even more success in the coming years.”

Zenger did not hire Bill Self, but he did hire Charlie Weis, which cost KU more than $5.6 million in buyout money after he was fired for going 6-22 leading the Jayhawks from 2012-14.

David Beaty was since hired to run the program, who has infused an outlook brighter than his 2-22 record would suggest.

Zenger said the new contract will allow him to fix football. Via the Kansas City Star:

Under Zenger’s watch, KU has most notably added numerous construction projects, including Rock Chalk Park and the DeBruce Center, which houses the original rules of basketball. He has spoken previously about completing those ventures to “clear the deck” financially so focus could be placed on football and Memorial Stadium renovations — two things he now says are “really the top priorities for me in the next four years.”

“We want it to be a place that people just love to come to,” Zenger said of Memorial Stadium. “We have such history there. I think it’s the greatest setting in the nation for college football. We just need to get it to the point where it’s a place that’s just revered.”

The extension includes a raise from a base salary of $619,000 to $700,000.

Alleged victim of Tennessee WR Josh Smith threatens $3 million civil suit

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Earlier this month, Tennessee wide receiver Josh Smith was charged with domestic assault following an incident at an off-campus house with his roommate. Now, the roommate is seeking damages of $875,000. If that sum is not paid, then the alleged victim may bring a $3 million civil suit to the court.

According to Jimmy Hyams of WNML, Kennedy Foster suffered a broken nose, broken teeth and damage to his eyes and right ear in the incident earlier this month that led to the charges filed against Smith. Foster sent a settlement demand letter to the attorney representing Smith.

“I’m not accusing him (Foster) of extortion, but that’s what it looks like,’’ Smith’s attorney, Keith Stewart said according to Hyams. “Given my understanding that Mr. Foster’s attempts to press charges against Malcolm Stokes were unsuccessful, it seems his motives are clear.’’

“I think when the truth comes out, Josh will be exonerated,” Stewart said of his client.

The deadline for paying the settlement demand is set for May 30 (tomorrow) by 5:00 p.m. and is to be delivered in the form of a cashier’s check along with a letter of apology for the incident. If the Smith family does not pay the requested sum, the legal team for Foster will move forward with a $1.5 million lawsuit seeking compensatory damages and a $1.5 million lawsuit for punitive damages. How either will hold up in court remains to be seen.

How some college football teams are recognizing Memorial Day on Twitter

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It’s not Memorial Day until the social media teams at college football programs start pumping out branded Memorial Day messages on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. As expected, teams and conferences are busy at pumping out the social media content for their followers today. Here is a sampling of what has been seen so far.

If you have not already done so, please take a few minutes to read John’s annual Memorial Day post.