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Pacific-10 hits television jackpot

Wed., May 4, 2011, 2:30 p.m.

Agreement guarantees each school $21 million yearly

SAN FRANCISCO – The Pac-10 agreed to a 12-year television contract with Fox and ESPN on Tuesday worth about $3 billion, allowing the conference to quadruple its media rights fees and start its own network.

The contract, which will begin with the 2012-13 season, will be worth about $250 million per year, guaranteeing each of the 12 schools in the conference about $21 million, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the terms had not been announced.

The contract is expected to be formally announced by commissioner Larry Scott at a news conference in Phoenix today.

Washington State University director of athletics Bill Moos was thrilled with the developments.

“I, like the rest of my peers in the conference, am elated with the television deals that commissioner Scott revealed to us today,” Moos said. “I am confident that we will see unprecedented exposure nationwide. … While receiving increased revenue which will help us at Washington State University to grow our intercollegiate athletic program, such areas as rising tuition costs and travel expenses as well as facility enhancements will all be addressed. This indeed is great news for the soon-to-be Pacific-12 Conference and all its member institutions.”

Scott Woodward, the director of athletics at the University of Washington, was also pleased.

“I am very excited about the new Pac-12 multimedia rights agreement,” Woodward said. “Commissioner Scott, presidential leadership and Creative Artists Agency have done a terrific job leading the negotiations. The value of the agreement indicates the strength of all 12 institutional brands and the significance of our conference nationally.”

The Pac-10, which will be renamed the Pac-12 in July with the additions of Utah and Colorado, made less than $60 million in media rights this past season but became the latest conference to take advantage of the escalating market for college sports on television.

The ACC recently signed a deal for $155 million a year and the Big 12 reached a deal with Fox that made its total annual package worth about $130 million. The Pac-10 topped those deals, as well as the $205 million the SEC gets and the $220 million paid to the Big Ten.

Rights to some football and men’s basketball games were not sold to Fox and ESPN, preserving some premium property the conference can use for a Pac-12 network to go along with Olympic and other non-revenue sports, a person close to the deal said.

Unlike the Big Ten Network, which Fox has a 49 percent ownership share in, the Pac-12 will own its entire network. That could add difficulties in terms of getting wide distributions on cable and satellite systems but allows the conference to have complete control of its content and keep all the profits if the network is successful.

The conference will also launch a digital network to show games online that aren’t on ESPN or Fox.

Under this deal, Fox and ESPN will split the rights to college football games. ESPN will air its games on cable as well as ABC and Fox will show its games on its broadcast network, basic cable network FX and on the Fox Sports Net regional networks.

ESPN will air four prime-time games on both Thursday and Friday nights, as well as a late-night Saturday window for football. There will also be at least five Saturday night prime-time games on ABC or Fox.

Men’s basketball games will be split between ESPN and Fox Sports Net, with ESPN showing games on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

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