ESPN Deal to Benefit WAC Basketball

Men's and women's basketball to gain exposure

Tech head coach Chris Long

Sept. 9, 2008

The Western Athletic Conference announced a new seven-year contract with ESPN that will give men's and women's basketball more television opportunities than in the past and that will ultimately help the league's exposure for all sports.

Back-to-back BCS football appearances and a National Championship in baseball over the past 20 months helped land the contract extension with ESPN that will provide unprecedented exposure for the league.

In all the ESPN networks will televise more than 300 regular-season WAC games and 45 championship events in five sports of nine years.

Six regular season women's events will air on ESPN network in 2008-09, seven will air in 2009-10 and eight will air in each of the final seven years of the contract. The women's basketball tournament championship games will also be televised. Women's sports weren't part of the previous contract with ESPN.

The WAC and ESPN have had a tremendous partnership over the years and the success of the conference the past two seasons has been recognized by the television sports leader with the contract extension. With two straight undefeated regular seasons in football by Boise State in 2006 and Hawai`i last year, along with Fresno State's championship run through last June's College World Series, ESPN has chronicled the WAC's national success. Last season's WAC title game between Boise State and Hawai`i on Nov. 23 was the most viewed regular season ESPN2 game last year.

"For the past five years, WAC football has benefited greatly from the exposure it has received from ESPN," said Benson. "The WAC values its relationship with the `leader in college sports' and is confident that this extension will allow WAC football to continue to be a prominent player in the BCS. But just as important, this deal will finally get the WAC's men's basketball teams the type of national exposure it deserves. And finally, for the first time ever, women's basketball regular season games will be aired on the ESPN networks along with the championship contests for volleyball and women's basketball."

"The WAC is a significant player on the college landscape and we are thrilled they will call ESPN home through 2016-17," said Magnus. "You can not talk championship level teams without including WAC members in that conversation. With this agreement, college sports fans will continue to see - in a bigger and better way - the quality and depth of the conference as well as the passion and enthusiasm of their supporters."

Additional games could be added throughout the season.

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