In a statement issued on Friday evening, Boise State admitted it had “some hesitation” about ending its longstanding relationship with ESPN as part of the Mountain West’s new TV rights deal and refuted the conference’s claim that this would be the last time the Broncos’ home games are negotiated separately.
During a conference call on Jan. 9, Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson told the media that conference members met in December and decided they wanted more equity in future deals.
But Boise State said its decision to rejoin the conference in 2012 and renege on a deal to join the Big East was predicated in part on the right to negotiate its home games separately.
“Boise State’s decision to join the conference was predicated on a number of negotiated provisions, including the right to separately negotiate material terms of media rights relating to our home games,” the university said in Friday’s statement distributed to the media by a spokesman. “This is stated in our conference agreement and cannot be changed by any vote of the membership or conflicting agreement. We will not support any change to this provision and are in the process of weighing our options to move forward.”
The Mountain West did not immediately return a call seeking comment Friday night.
The Boise State-Mountain West terms sheet dated Dec. 31, 2012, that governed Boise State’s future relationship with the conference spells out the Broncos’ rights and obligations with regards to the TV contract.
“Boise State shall provide the MWC the exclusive television broadcast rights to its intercollegiate athletic events, including but not limited to home football games, each season,” the terms sheet reads. “In return, MWC will ensure such Boise State home football games are not part of, nor granted under, any current or future MWC conference-wide television rights contract … . MWC will ensure that the Boise State home football games are sold as a separate package. Boise State and MWC must mutually agree to whom such Boise State home football game rights are licensed and to the material terms of such license … .”
The terms sheet also states that the terms supersede “any contrary, conflicting or inconsistent provision of the MWC constitution, articles of incorporation, bylaws, policies … or any subsequent vote of the conference members.”
The Mountain West announced its new TV deal on Jan. 9, cutting ESPN out of the mix for regular-season games and handing rights for Boise State home games to Fox and road conference games to CBS Sports, beginning with the 2020 season. ESPN played a pivotal role in making Boise State the national brand it is, but the deal with Fox and CBS apparently was too good to pass up.
“We feel that our new partner is committed to helping Boise State continue to grow our brand and raise our institutional profile across the nation,” Friday’s statement said.
The new deal is valued at $270 million over six years, according to Thompson. Boise State’s cut of that should go up from $2.9 million to somewhere in the neighborhood of $5.7 million. In addition to the revenue boost, Boise State said the possibility of earlier kickoffs and added exposure for the entire conference went into going along with the deal.
“From a revenue standpoint, equal share tripled for all members of the conference, including Boise State,” Friday’s statement said. “Due to our location, later kickoffs are going to be a part of any TV deal. Fox agreed to kick no later than 7:45 p.m., and between the two partners, they have agreed to move a maximum of 10 games per season off of Saturday.”
Fox and CBS Sports have the option of airing up to 10 Friday games between them, not including holiday weekends.
Under the previous deal, Boise State received an additional $1.8 million in TV money each year on top of the $1.1 million distributed annually to the rest of the conference members except Hawaii, which has its own TV deal with Oceanic Time Warner.
Under the new deal, the rest of the conference’s 10 full-time members will receive about $3.9 million. Hawaii will receive a partial share, Thompson said, but that dollar amount hasn’t been determined yet. Boise State still gets $1.8 million on top of the payout to the rest of the conference, also as part of its 2012 deal to remain in the Mountain West.