Big 12 announces new TV deal

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The Big 12 issued a release earlier this afternoon which stated that “commissioner Dan Beebe will be available to the media via teleconference to provide an update on the latest news regarding the Big 12 Conference” at 4 p.m. ET.  Based on the word coming from a writer for the Sports Business Journal, at least some of the latest news will involve a sizable new television contract.

The SBJ‘s John Ourand sent out a tweet shortly after the release stating that the Big 12 will announce a new multi-year deal with FOX Sports.  The SBJ had reported last month that the two sides were putting the finishing touches on what would be a 13-year, $1.17 billion deal for the second-tier rights to football games; apparently, the deal that’s expected to be announced today will be somewhere in the neighborhood of the numbers first reported in March.

The new deal would represent an increase of roughly 350 percent over the previous contract.  However, the previous deal was sliced up amongst 12 schools; with the departures of Colorado and Nebraska for other conferences, each member of the conference will get an even larger slice of the new financial pie.  Not each member of the conference will get an equal slice, however, as Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M will receive a greater share than the other seven schools, a stipulation that resulted from their threat to bolt for the then-Pac-10 in the summer of 2010.

The conference’s first-tier TV rights run through 2016, with ESPN and ABC paying a total of $60 million annually.

That $150 million-per-year total falls well short of conference financial behemoths the Big Ten ($214 million) and SEC ($205 million), but is on par with the $155 million the ACC is expected to bring in with their newly-minted deal.  All of the BcS leagues could be looking up to the Pac-12 in the very near future, however, as that conference is expected to sign new deals that would bring in a rumored $222 million annually.

FOX is also believed to be one of the two frontrunners for the Pac-12’s new TV package.

UPDATED 5:18 p.m. ET: The Big 12 confirmed their new 13-year deal with FOX during Beebe’s conference call, although the conference would not confirm the financial numbers being tossed around.  Beebe did reveal that FOX would broadcast 40 games — nearly double the number aired in the previous deal — on their FSN regional networks as well as cable channel F/X.  Beebe also hinted at the possibility of airing Big 12 games in primetime on the FOX network.

Here is Beebe’s official statement as provided by the conference via a press release:

“This landmark agreement positions the Conference with one of the best television arrangements in collegiate sports,” said Beebe. “It exceeds the benchmarks as we move forward with our 10 members by providing significant revenue growth, increased exposure while allowing institutions to retain selected rights. Most importantly, the agreement signifies the long-term commitment of the member institutions to one another. The Conference is delighted to continue its partnership with Fox and build on the momentum the FSN network has generated for the Big 12 brand through our first 15 years. We are excited about extending our presence on other FOX platforms, especially on FX, a top cable network.”

“This agreement extends our relationship with a valued long-time partner and ensures that Fox Sports will have an incredibly strong college football slate to offer viewers well into the next decade,” said Randy Freer, President of FOX Sports Networks.

“These 10 universities in the center of America stand together in their commitment,” University of Missouri Chancellor and Big 12 Conference Board of Directors Chairman Brady Deaton said. “The Big 12 will generate per member television revenue at competitive levels of college athletics, while at the same time increasing exposure for our programs on national and regional platforms, and providing for comprehensive institutional rights retention.”

Report: Cannabis oil not the reason C.J. Harris denied walk-on opportunity at Auburn

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A major brouhaha broke out on social media last last week when it was reported that C.J. Harris was denied by the NCAA an opportunity to walk-on at Auburn because of his prescription for cannabis oil, which he uses to prevent epileptic seizures. Harris claims to be seizure free since January 2017 thanks to the medication.

“After Auburn coaches and staff took a second look at his medical records, they told Harris’ father Curtis that his son could not compete in NCAA athletics while he was taking cannabis oil,” reported WGXA-TV, which broke the story.

“You’re taking something away from a kid who’s worked so hard in his life to get there,” Curtis Harris, the player’s father, said. “And you’re just taking it away because he’s taking a medication that’s helping with his disability.”

But according to Brandon Marcello of Auburn Undercover, the story is more complicated than that. A source told Marcello that it was Auburn’s doctors, and not NCAA rules, that will prevent Harris from suiting up for the Tigers. Writes Marcello:

Auburn’s team physician did not clear Harris due to the pre-existing medical conditions, a source close to the Auburn football program said. The Auburn medical staff was concerned about the epilepsy and wanted to protect his well being in a full-contact sport that could lead to head trauma, the source said.

That information will not stop people from ripping on the NCAA, however, largely because it’s fun to rip on the NCAA.

But the Harris situation is a flashpoint in a larger cultural issue. Public opinion on marijuana is changing — 61 percent of Americans believe it should be legal, according to a Pew Research poll in January, an increase from 57 percent in 2017 and a massive leap from the 31 percent who thought the same in 2000 — and cannabis is already legal for purchase on a medical basis in 29 states. And the opinion of Auburn’s doctors doesn’t change the fact Harris would still be ineligible under current NCAA rules.

However, the NCAA’s Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports has discussed “medical marijuana and CBD products at recent meetings” and will do so again at its next gathering in June, according to SB Nation. The Harris situation — and the subsequent public reaction — should be a a topic of conversation.

 

Michigan offers 8th grader who led varsity team in tackles

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MarMichigan has offered a scholarship to eighth-grade linebacker Tyler Martin, according to a post on Martin’s Twitter account on Thursday.

That would be the class of 2022, for those scoring at home.

Martin is not any ordinary eighth grader, though. A native of Cambridge, Mass., Martin led Buckingham Browne & Nichols with over 100 tackles and also started every game at tight end. Not Browne & Nichols’s eighth grade team, mind you. The varsity.

“He’s a tremendous kid that happens to be a tremendous athlete,” Browne & Nichols head coach Mike Willey told USA Today. “He’s worked exceptionally hard and put himself in a good position, that’s why I think Michigan says, yeah, this is the kind of guy they want.

The 6-foot-3, 227-pound linebacker is not the first junior high player to draw a maize and blue offer this year. Michigan offered Martin, Tenn., quarterback Ty Simpson in March.

Two Illinois players charged with theft for relocating deer sculpture

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A pair of Illinois players have been charged with theft between $500 and $10,000 after taking a sculpture from a Champaign park and relocating it to the top of their apartment building.

Jimmy Marchese, a junior linebacker, and Drew Murtaugh, a sophomore linebacker, told police they were walking home on the night of April 29 and saw a sculpture of a running deer, titled “Startled,” lying on the ground and took it home, placing the sculpture on the roof of their apartment. The Champaign Park District pleaded for the sculpture’s return on Facebook, and an anonymous tip led the authorities to Marchese and Murtaugh.

“Startled” has since been reinstalled at Champaign’s Scott Park, where the $5,000 sculpture will require touch-up work by the artist who created it.

“We had to have the artist come and do some work on it. We think we got it worked out to where it would be a lot harder for anyone to take it out again,” Champaign Park District director Joe DeLuce told the Champaign News Gazette.

The Illini pair has already appeared in court for a probable-cause hearing, and are due back on June 12. They face penalties ranging from probation to five years in prison.

Illinois spokesman Kent Brown told the News Gazette that head coach Lovie Smith is aware of the incident but has taken no action.

Marchese, a native of Vernon Hills, Ill., played in all 12 games in 2017 with two starts, and was named to the Academic All-Big Ten team. Murtaugh, hailing from Crystal Lake, Ill., did not letter as a redshirt freshman in 2017, but joined his partner in petty crime as an Academic All-Big Ten honoree.

 

Georgia DB Tray Bishop arrested on felony charge for alleged recording of sexual act

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Georgia freshman defensive back DetravionTray” Bishop was arrested on Wednesday on charges of felony eavesdropping/surveillance. The charges stem from an incident from this past fall, according to a report from Chip Towers of DawgNation.com. Bishop, who promptly turned himself over to the authorities after a warrant for his arrest was issued, has already been released from a county jail on a $5,700 bond.

The arrest follows an investigation by University of Georgia police responded to a complaint filed by a woman in April. The woman claimed Bishop recorded a sexual act between the two without her consent back in November.

“The complainant wished to report that there was a student going around showing people a sex tape of her … without her consent,” the police report said, according to the DawgNation report. “… A subsequent investigation into this incident led us into determining that the crime of unlawful eavesdropping occurred on [Nov. 5]. The investigation showed that Detravion Bishop had recorded [victim’s name] inside his dorm room without her permission and without her knowledge.”

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has responded to the situation, expressing concern over the circumstances Bishop is caught up in.

“We are investigating the matter and it’s important that we gather all information relevant to the situation before we determine what policies may come into play,” Smart said in his statement. “Then we can take appropriate action if necessary.”

Bishop was a three-star recruit in Georgia’s Class of 2017, according to his Rivals profile. Bishop red-shirted last season.