College Sports

Big 12 Sets Up Restrictions On Longhorn Network

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DALLAS (AP) Big 12 athletic directors voted Monday to prohibit the broadcast of any high school sporting events on the newly created Longhorn Network for at least the next year.

The conference announced that the ADs voted unanimously to forbid such content on any medium branded as a conference or member institution platform. Controversy had been stirred up at the suggestion that Texas could show games featuring players it was recruiting on its network set to launch this month.

The athletic directors instituted a one-year moratorium and decided that it would not be lifted unless the NCAA rules that such content would be permissible. The ADs also suggested that the Big 12’s board of directors should encourage the NCAA to impose a similar one-year moratorium across the country.

The ADs also decided that any conference game aired on the Longhorn Network would require approval of the conference and the opposing school.

“As we’ve said, we recognize the need for ongoing discussion to properly address the questions raised by the conference. Longhorn Network will televise unprecedented coverage of more than 200 UT athletics events annually plus a variety of dynamic, relevant programming,” ESPN spokeswoman Keri Potts said in a statement.

Texas is the only Big 12 school with a network that qualifies so far, although Texas A&M and Oklahoma have discussed putting one together. The Longhorn Network — created through a 20-year, $300 million deal with ESPN — is set to launch Aug. 26.

Last week at Big 12 media days, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said it was “a lack of common sense there to think that the network, the university network, can have high school games.”

“I think that all the NCAA recruiting rules are really directed toward unfair advantage, and I think being able to broadcast high school games on my branded network probably creates an advantage for me over others,” Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis said last week.

“So, I don’t think that’s in the best interests of the conference to do that.”

Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds has also raised the possibility that the network could air games on the channel, but remove the Longhorn brand to limit the impact on recruiting.

The ability to start its own network helped keep Texas in the Big 12 after being courted by the Pac-10 last summer. The expanded Pac-12 announced its own nationwide network last week, along with six regional networks that will be shared by two schools apiece.

The Big Ten already has a lucrative network.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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