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Press Box: SEC Network to debut in 2014

The SportsXchange

The Southeastern Conference and ESPN unveiled a partnership Thursday that will bring the SEC Network to viewers beginning in August 2014.

The SEC will have an around-the-clock presence in football and basketball through the 20-year agreement. The deal includes a new television network and digital platform that will air more than 1,000 events in the first year.

Included in the programming will be football games, men's and women's basketball games, baseball games and assorted events from the other 17 SEC sports. The network will also contain studio shows and coverage of special events like signing day and football pro days.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

---The NCAA has banned the use of Twitter hashtags on college football fields in an attempt to stop a phenomenon before it spins out of control.

On-field hashtags in college football have gained in popularity since the first one appeared in the end zone at Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium in November 2011. Typically, it's used by mascots or the school as a rallying cry, but corporations could easily get in the act.

The new rule also prohibits website URLs on the field. Other rules stipulate that jersey numbers must have a distinct color from the jersey itself, and eye shields, including glasses and goggles must be clear and not tinted.

NHL

---The NHL issued Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference a one-game suspension on Thursday for an illegal check to the head of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski.

Ference collided with Grabovski at 10:03 of the first period in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series on Wednesday. No penalty was called on the play.

The 34-year-old Ference will sit out Game 2 of the series on Saturday night. The Bruins took a 1-0 lead with a 4-1 victory in the opener.
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