Atlantic 10 agrees to landmark deal with ESPN, NBC, CBS

By Daniel Malone

Daily Collegian File Photo

The Atlantic 10 has reached an eight-year media and television distribution deal with CBS Sports Network, NBC Sports Group and the ESPN family of networks according to a press release sent out by conference officials on Tuesday.

The new partnership, which begins with the start of the 2013-14 season and more than doubles the number of men’s and women’s nationally televised games, “will give the league unprecedented reach, distribution and marketing,” the release said.  The conference’s new media footprint is expected to encompass over 33 million television households under the terms of the deal.

The deal provides for over 192 national television appearances over its eight-year duration, including up to 30 men’s basketball games to be aired by ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU, an additional 54 matchups on CBS Sports Network and 50 more on NBC Sports Network.

The agreement also calls for coverage of the A-10 men’s and women’s basketball championship finals to be administered by ESPN, with CBS Network carrying the tournament’s semifinals, and NBC Sports Network airing all quarterfinal matchups.

While financial terms of the landmark deal have yet to be disclosed, A-10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade was effusive in her praise of her conference’s new partnership.

“Our commitment to basketball at the highest level has allowed us to leverage our national exposure in the best way possible for the Atlantic 10,” McGlade said in the release.  “Partnering with ESPN, CBS Sports Network and NBC Sports Network for the next eight years is truly a historic moment for the A-10 and its member institutions.”

The Atlantic 10 Conference looks forward to working with three of the very best media companies in the world,” added Dr. Steven Knapp, George Washington University President and Chair of the A-10 Council on Presidents, in the release. “The conference is committed to academic and athletic excellence, and this media rights agreement will allow us to deliver our message nationwide while showcasing the best in Division I sports competition.”

Implicit in the new deal is an exciting opportunity for growth for both the Massachusetts men’s and women’s basketball programs, due in part to increased recruiting power afforded to the University as a result of expanded national television exposure.

UMass students living on campus also stand to gain from the deal, as all three of the University’s, now long-term, television network partners are aired over the Housing Services Cable Network.

The Minutemen are slated to open the new season at home against Harvard on Nov. 13 at 10 a.m. as part of ESPN’s annual 24-hour men’s college basketball Tip-Off Marathon.

Daniel Malone can be reached a [email protected]