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ESPN And Conference USA Reach Eight-Year Agreement for Football and Basketball

Agreement Includes Weeknight Football; Wed./Fri. Basketball; Several ESPN Entities

ESPN, Inc. and Conference USA have entered into an exclusive eight-year agreement which begins in the 2001 football season and the 2001-2002 basketball season and incorporates ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Regional Television, ESPN.com and ESPN Classic. It was announced by John Wildhack, ESPN senior vice president, programming and Mike Slive, Conference USA Commissioner. As part of this arrangement, Conference USA and ABC Sports have reached an agreement to televise future potential Conference USA football Championship Games.

The multi-faceted agreement is highlighted by: ESPN/ESPN2's first-time coverage of Conference USA football featuring weeknight games; televising future Conference USA Football Championship Games on ABC Sports; men's basketball coverage Fridays on ESPN and Wednesdays on ESPN2; syndication and network rights for the conference's football and basketball coverage through ESPN Regional Television; marketing rights and more. "We are thrilled to expand our relationship with Conference USA on both the national and regional level," said Wildhack. "Multi-faceted agreements such as this one involving the many ESPN entities and ABC Sports set us apart and allow us to enhance our position as the leader in college sports coverage. Weeknight football and establishing a Friday night basketball franchise are just two of the many fan-friendly elements of this arrangement."

Conference USA Commissioner Mike Slive added: "Conference USA is pleased and excited about its partnership with ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports. This agreement enhances the Conference's primetime exposure in a very significant way. By combining football and men's and women's basketball on ESPN, plus the opportunity to add a championship football game on ABC, fans will be able to watch Conference USA throughout the year on the many ESPN entities and ABC Sports."

ESPN, INC. -- CONFERENCE USA FOOTBALL

  • Exclusive national cable television coverage of the conference on ESPN and ESPN2 with 10 games annually (including several in primetime), highlighted by:
  • Tuesday and/or Wednesday night games
  • Select Thursday and Saturday games
  • Rights to a future Football Championship Game for ABC Sports
  • ESPN Regional Television will syndicate select games and will be the network rightsholder for Conference USA football.
  • Pay-per-view rights for ESPN's GamePlan package

    ESPN, INC. -- CONFERENCE USA BASKETBALL

  • Exclusive national cable television coverage of the conference on ESPN and ESPN2 with at least 19 men's games annually, including:
  • Seven Friday night games on ESPN
  • Seven Wednesday night games on ESPN2
  • Select early-season games
  • ESPN Regional Television will continue as network rightsholder and regional syndication rightsholder. The syndicated package will include 14 regular-season men's games plus 10 Conference Tournament games to local and regional Conference USA markets.
  • ESPN Regional Television will produce no less than 10 women's games. In addition, ESPN2 will televise the Women's Conference Championship.
  • Pay-per-view rights for ESPN's FULL COURT package

    OTHER ESPN, INC. ENTITIES/MISC. AGREEMENT POINTS

  • ESPN Classic: ESPN Classic will have access to Conference USA archives for network programs.
  • ESPN.com: ESPN will offer expanded coverage of Conference USA action online.
  • Marketing Rights: ESPN Regional Television will have corporate marketing rights for Conference USA, including the Men's Basketball Championship and a future Football Championship Game.

    CONFERENCE USA

    Conference USA and its member institutions - Army (football), Charlotte, Cincinnati, DePaul, East Carolina, Houston, Louisville, Marquette, Memphis, Saint Louis, South Florida, Southern Miss, TCU, Tulane and UAB - span 13 states in 13 major markets. Conference USA football, which began competition in 1996, has sent 13 teams to bowls in the last five years. The league has consistently rated as one of the top basketball leagues in the country sending 33 teams to postseason play, while drawing more than 1.5 million fans each year putting the league among the nation's leaders in home attendance.

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