The people running college athletics would like you to believe that they politely listen to suggestions from their broadcast partners, as they fondly refer to the folks showering them with money, but in the end make their own decisions, because that’s the kind of independent, courageous people they are.
Yeah, right. Exhibit “A”:
Conference realignment “worked both ways,” says Alabama athletic director Bill Battle, the founder of Collegiate Licensing Company.
“I think it was networks saying, ‘You can make a whole lot more money if you do this,” Battle said. “And I think it was conferences back some time ago saying, ‘With television eyeballs, there is an opportunity if we can expand in these areas that it makes sense to command more money from the networks.'”
What a happy coincidence! So was this:
Swofford said his conference’s talks with ESPN on Pitt and Syracuse were “limited and of a more general nature,” relying heavily on internal analysis alongside television consultant Dean Jordan. One source with knowledge of the moves said the conference approached ESPN on an “objective analysis” basis.
“We’ve never considered it our place to make specific direction or make specific recommendations to anything,” ESPN senior vice president of college sports programming Burke Magnus said. “Nobody has ever come to us and said, ‘I’m going to give you three schools, which two are the best?'”
The (old) Big East, now the American Athletic Conference, turned down an ESPN offer of roughly $130 million per year in May 2011. Pitt was one of the schools to reject the deal in a presidents’ vote.
Pitt left roughly four months later.
Make sure to read the whole thing for a good chuckle, as the denial runs thick. The contortions in logic from both sides (ESPN’s guy gives holier than thou a shot that’s just as unconvincing as what the collegiate suits have to say) are epic.