Pac-12 Scores $2.7 Billion In TV Rights

Will it be enough to bring back all the men's sports cut by Arizona State?

Congratulations to the Pac-10(ish) on their new lottery ticket: $2.7 billion over 12 years to let others show their basketball and football games on your television. (As if anyone will be watching television in 12 years. Suckers!)

According to Sports Business Daily, the Pac-10 (Pac-12) convinced ESPN and Fox (through the help of bidding up by the sports content-hungry Comcast/NBC) to pay thrice what previous right-holders did for broadcasting privileges. America must be starved for Colorado and Utah football. Maybe America is confused. You see, America, Johnny Utah was his name, but he played for Ohio State.

There's more than football and basketball at stake, though c'mon: it's about the football, you magnificent degenerates with your bookies on speed-dial and your houses in hock. The Pac-10(ish) still has dreams of a Pac-10(ish) network, so they held back some of the other sports. However, ESPN has also scored rights to "a package of Olympic sports" which hopefully don't bump Australian rugby from the late-night schedule.

This is the awkward part, ESPN. I'm sorry your lawyers missed this in the due diligence phase of lunging for the football rights and rubbing them across your chests vigorously while cooing gently. Unfortunately, though, at least one Pac-10(ish) school doesn't actually care for their Olympic sports and tried to ditch them a few years ago.

In response to $26 million in state funding cuts that year and the general nose-dive of the economy, Arizona State University sliced three men's sports from the athletic roster in 2008: wrestling, swimming, and tennis. As often occurs, the men's sports went first in the belt-tightening in deference to Title IX and the football rosters that are only slightly smaller than school enrollment rosters.

Wrestling returned officially a mere 10 days later, fully chastised for their temerity to be a red-ink sport. Swimming came back two months after that but having to pay their way, from scholarships to coaches' salaries. Tennis never made it back at all.

The wrestlers have sustained their long history of glory, taking home two individual championships again last spring behind the inspirational efforts of Anthony Robles and the Penn State transfer by Bubba Jenkins. Yet they still remind wrestling fans of the tenuous nature of their program when they ask for donations on the team's official site. The swimmers struggle to return to previous success and to raise enough funds on their fundraising site to avoid swimming hand-to-mouth.

As the university considers what to do with the average increase of $12+ million per school per year that comes from the new television deal plus whatever might come out of a potential conference network someday, could some of that possibly help the wrestling team? Perhaps slip a few shekels to the swimmers? In 2008, there were only 10 men's tennis players. Hopefully, that wouldn't upset the Title IX calculations enough to prevent their return.

At least consider it, please, Arizona State University Athletics and VP of Athletics Lisa Love. If the economics don't make it possible to provide those tangible student-athlete benefits the NCAA keeps telling us about, then remember you'll need content for all your platforms. Otherwise, you may have to see if ESPN's willing to share their rugby broadcasts. No one wants to see that. Sparky would never survive the scrum.

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