Despite the fact that the Big East has seen quite a bit of turmoil over the last year, ESPN is sticking by the conference, albeit its doing so for a discount.
ESPN.com announced that the Big East had reached an agreement with the sports network on a new media rights deal. The new contract will see the Big East receiving $130 million over the next seven years.
The Big East had been entertaining offers from other networks, including NBC but because ESPN is the current rights holder they were able to match any outstanding offers. The network chose to do that today.
The Sporting News points out that the new deal is actually bit less than the current media rights deal per school. The new deal is also quite a bit less than a 9 year deal that ESPN had offered the conference two years ago.
Since the Big East turned down that $1.17 billion contract, the conference has seen 16 different schools leave, or announce their intent to leave.
Big East commissioner Mike Aresco confirmed that the two sides had arrived at an agreement in principle through a press release:
“ESPN has matched the third-party offer that the Big East Conference received, and, subject to Big East board approval, ESPN and the Big East will continue, for years to come, their long-term relationship, which began in 1980.”
This media rights deal is comparable to the one that the Mountain West conference got from CBS sports, but is quite a bit less than some of the other power conferences have received from networks in recent years.
The basketball conference, which is actually stronger than its football side actually got inked to the seven years, while the football side has a six year contract.
The money in the deal is also contingent on the seven Catholic schools (DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Villanova) remaining in the conference in 2014.
If the Big East loses any of those schools, $10 million will be shaved off the deal.