College:

Tourney Treats: Mountain West officially back in the ESPN family

ESPN and CBS Sports Network will take turns picking league football and men’s basketball games to put on their platforms

Image

Steve Marcus

Members of the UNLV men’s basketball team applaud as they learn their selection while watching the NCAA Tournament’s Selection Show at the Mendenhall Center Sunday, March 17, 2013. UNLV will play Golden Bears in its NCAA tournament opener on Thursday at HP Pavilion in San Jose.

UNLV 2013 NCAA Tournament Practice

The UNLV basketball team has their photo taken by UNLV photographer R. Marsh Starks before practice for their second round NCAA Tournament game against Cal Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. Launch slideshow »

The Mountain West is officially back on ESPN, the network and the league jointly announced Wednesday afternoon. While five of the league's teams prepare to play in the NCAA Tournament, we learned ESPN will hold national TV rights to conference-controlled football and men’s basketball games, in addition to CBS Sports Network remaining the league’s primary rights holder.

As part of the new agreement, CBSSN and ESPN will alternate game selections in the two revenue sports, with CBSSN picking first. The caveat is ESPN controls rights to Boise State home football games and CBSSN has the rights to the Broncos’ road games. There are no such limitations on UNLV games.

“The Mountain West looks forward to rejoining the ESPN networks beginning with our 15th season this fall,” Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said in a press release. “Coupled with CBS Sports Network, we anticipate tremendous national exposure over several outlets as the league continues its growth and development.”

Financial terms of the new ESPN agreement were not disclosed. Between the two, up to 56 men’s basketball and 44 football games will be televised annually on CBS’ and ESPN’s various platforms. The deals are both scheduled to run through 2019-20.

“We believe this agreement with ESPN is a further step in ensuring this availability and increasing our visibility to fans of college athletics nationwide,” said Dr. Anthony A. Frank, chair of the MW Board of Directors and president of Colorado State University.

The league is in the process of negotiating an agreement with CBSSN for the inaugural football championship game, and it still has the rights to sell more packages on the MW Digital Network to regional and local carriers.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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