It can be done.
Proof of it came last week, when the University of Kansas completed deals to sell its third-tier rights.
They did so without the cat fighting that has gone on as West Virginia University has tried to sell its third-tier rights, leading to charges of impropriety that reached as high as the Board of Governors and the president of the school.
That led to a “do-over” with the cast of characters changed to some degree and to lawsuits that are still being contested.
Kansas, which in many ways is a university quite similar to WVU, managed to work its way through the process without much in the way of hitches and came up with a deal that can give you an idea of what WVU has been trying to set up for itself.
First of all, Kansas used the same company — IMG Sports — to put things together as WVU had planned to do before it all hit the fan.
There has been some misunderstanding of what IMG’s role in this was.
IMG is a broker for the wide-ranging rights the school possesses — from its radio broadcasts, TV broadcasts of non-league games and coaches’ shows or any other kinds of specials it may produce, its advertising in and out of stadium, its game-day magazine, sponsorships and website.
There are really only two companies prominent in doing this on the college level — IMG Sports and Learfield. They handle nearly all the power schools.
Among Learfield’s top clients are Stanford, USC, Alabama, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Penn State, Clemson, North Carolina and Miami, Fla., with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Texas Tech in the Big 12.
The other top schools, for the most part, are handled by IMG, but one or the other works as brokers for almost everyone’s third-tier rights.
“What people need to remember is that none of these companies that are in that space have networks. They try to find the best exposure and dollars and access for that school’s properties,” WVU athletic director Oliver Luck explained, as best he can considering he is restricted because the deals are still being negotiated and the litigation is still active.
So it is that IMG worked out deals for Kansas to sell its rights to Time Warner Cable Sports, Comcast and ESPN3 in separate deals.
This is big stuff, as Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com explained.
“Though it’s only six basketball games (four non-conference, two exhibitions) and one football game, those are six very valuable basketball games. We’re talking Kansas. Think if Kentucky did this how many fans would switch services to catch a meaningless non-conference game. Lots, but Kentucky can’t do it. Like the rest of the SEC schools, it sold its third-tier rights to the conference. That’s pretty much the same situation in each of the other four BCS conferences.”
The Big 12 does differ from the other conferences. The Pac-12 sold its rights back to the conference, as did the SEC. The Big 10 does it through the conference’s network and the ACC, at the moment, is in a state of transition, so its setup is confusing.
The Big 12, however, was able to stay together only by allowing Texas to start its own Longhorn Network, which meant the other schools could keep their third-tier rights and sell them as they saw fit.
This particular deal gives Kansas a huge national reach, ESPN3 reaching a potential 85 million people.
Certainly, Kansas basketball is the centerpiece and those six games are big items on the market and to alumni spread across the nation.
You can access ESPN3 on your computer, tablet, phone or Smart TV through your provider. Kansas City is being used as a test market for Google Fiber, and Kansas City is a key market for KU and K-State. The service claims to provide speeds 100 times faster than normal.
The same, on a lesser scale, can be said about WVU sports, but still it is an important item in keeping alumni around the country in touch, in creating interest for donations and in recruiting both athletes and students.
As with anything else, there are drawbacks. For example, if WVU’s sports wound up with Time Warner and Comcast, those having Direct TV would be cut out or have to change carriers, so it is more a nirvana for the school’s bottom line than for all its fans.
In the end, it will all be worked out, the rights sold and the games on the air somewhere, somehow because there is too much money and exposure involved for a settlement to it all not to be reached.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.
It can be done.
East’s Postlewait, North’s Latocha toss no-hitters
Tori Postlewait made a deal with her great-uncle, Kenny Carpenter, before her freshman season.
If the Bees’ pitcher tossed a no-hitter, Carpenter promised to give her $20.
Well, it took four years, but it’s finally time for Postlewait’s great-uncle to pay up.
East tennis splits with Polar Bears
Fairmont Senior and East Fairmont split a pair of tennis matches Thursday, with Fairmont Senior winning the boys’ match and East Fairmont taking the girls’ competition.
In the Bees’ 6-1 girls’ victory, Cara Laswell took second singles, 8-2. Erica Gorman won third singles, 8-1. And Carrington Reese won fourth singles, 8-3.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules
At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.
McCutchen, Alvarez lead Pirates over Brewers
Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run shot and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison broke a tie with a long ball in the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first road loss, 11-2 on Thursday night.
Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma
Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.
FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing
Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.
University hands Huskies first loss; East edges Elkins
The mercy rule has been a familiar part of North Marion’s softball season.
Through the first seven games, the Huskies regularly pounded their opponents with stingy defense, sharp pitching and timely hitting. Rarely did a game go all seven innings for the previously undefeated team.
Huggins signs junior college guard
Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.
HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing
The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.
Pirates shut out by Reds’ Cueto, 4-0
Johnny Cueto was on his game, and the only thing that the Pirates could do was watch.
Cueto pitched his third career shutout against the team that beat him in the NL wild card game, and Joey Votto hit a two-run homer that led the Cincinnati Reds over the Pirates 4-0 Wednesday for their first winning series this season.
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