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Thursday, December 18, 2014

MWC returns to ESPN this fall

sports@dailylobo.com
@ThomasRomeroS

For the Mountain West Conference, more national exposure is right around the corner.

On Wednesday the league reached an agreement with ESPN on a seven-year deal for the network to televise up to an estimated 22 football games and 25 men’s basketball games annually. The deal will begin in the 2013-2014 season and conclude in 2019-2020.

Finances were undisclosed, but according to ESPN, the deal — combined with MWC’s current deal with CBS Sports Network — could earn the conference up to $116 million, or $18 million annually.

Each Mountain West school — 12 in all when San Jose State and Utah State join the conference in the fall — will receive an equal share of the proceeds. Each school’s athletics department receives all of the finances.

All six of Boise State’s home football games will be televised on ESPN because of an earlier arrangement. However, CBS Sports Network retains the rights to all of the Broncos’ road contests.

“Coupled with CBS Sports Network, we anticipate tremendous national exposure over several outlets as the league continues its growth and development,” Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said.

Altogether, up to 44 football and 56 men’s basketball games could be broadcast annually between ESPN and CBS Sports Network. Both agreements run concurrently through 2019-2020.

UNM’s football team was the only MWC football team that did not appear on national television last season. The Lobos were coming off three consecutive 1-11 seasons but improved to 4-8 in Bob Davie’s first year as head coach.

Last year, ESPN televised four MWC football games through a sublicensing agreement. It marked the first time ESPN had broadcast an MWC football contest from a member’s home arena since 2005. From 1999-2005, ESPN had regular MWC football games shown on its network.

In 2006, the MWC was unable to reach an agreement with ESPN on a new TV deal but signed a seven-year $82 million deal with CSTV — which later became CBS Sports Network. The Mountain West had its own television network, The Mtn., which started in 2006 but folded in May 2012.

“I am really excited about our new deal with ESPN,” said Paul Krebs, UNM’s vice president for Athletics. “It dramatically improves our TV package and provides tremendous national exposure at a time when our conference is experiencing tremendous success.”