Confusion dominates Big Ten athletic departments in football scheduling debacle
Earlier this week, you might have noticed the stories coming from the Big Ten, in which the conference’s previous commissioner, Kevin Warren, did not fully finalize a series of lucrative television contracts. The report from ESPN’s Pete Thamel documented the unfinished aspects of the contracts, which are leading to the Big Ten having to pay back Fox and re-negotiate with NBC. Big Ten athletic departments, though poised to gain tens of millions of dollars from the deal once everything is squared away, are running up against the short-term frustration of watching money get squandered, thereby resulting in a budget projection shortfall compared to what was initially promised.
What adds to the frustration of Big Ten athletic departments is that Kevin Warren didn’t make the situation abundantly clear, as Thamel reported:
“Athletic departments and coaches around the Big Ten say they were surprised November night games would be part of the deal. They weren’t asked for permission to play them prior to the deal or informed of the change ahead of the deal, according to sources. At the same time, NBC wasn’t aware until well after the initial contract was signed this summer that these big-brand schools had historic tolerances that were part of the prior television arrangements and would resist being available.
“‘NBC was surprised, and I was surprised,’ said Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel. ‘We had not discussed, and I had not discussed with anyone in the league to change the tolerances we had agreed upon years ago.'”
New Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti is trying to secure these TV contracts after Kevin Warren dashed off to join the Chicago Bears instead of sticking around to shepherd USC into the Big Ten. It is quite a turn of events.
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