February 1, 1999
COLORADO SPRINGS - The Mountain West Conference, which Utah will be a member of beginning this summer, has reached a seven-year agreement giving ESPN exclusive national television rights to football and men's basketball, the new league announced Monday.
The contract, which kicks in with the 1999-2000 academic year, was discussed in a joint release by ESPN senior vice president of programming John Wildhack and MWC commissiner Craig Thompson.
The MWC -- which officially begins operations July 1 -- will be composed of UNLV, Air Force, BYU, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, Utah and Wyoming. The headquarters are located in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Under the agreement, ESPN will have exclusive national rights to all MWC football games, with distribution through ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and syndication via ESPN Regional Television. With men's basketball, national rights will include distribution through ESPN, ESPN2 and ERT.
"We're thrilled to begin what we expect to be a very long relationship with the Mountain West Conference," said Wildhack. "The MWC will be one of the nation's most competetive leagues, and this agreement will greatly enhance our already-solid lineup of college sports programming."
Said Thompson: "The exposure this agreement affords our conference is tremendous, and we are very excited to forge this partnership with a worldwide sports leader like ESPN. From immediate name recognition to all aspects of recruiting, this relationship with ESPN will be vital in the development of the Mountain West Conference."
Details of the agreement include:
--Football begins with the 1999 season and extends through the 2005 season.
--ESPN will produce 19-23 conference and/or non-conference games per season, with minimums of two games on ABC, four games on ESPN, five games on ESPN2 and an average of eight games syndicated by ESPN Regional Television each season.
--A minimum of three annual appearances on ESPN's Thursday Night Game of the Week.
--Men's Basketball begins with the 1999-2000 season and extends through the 2005-6 season.
--A minimum of 12 games per season on ESPN, with minimums of seven conference games, two non-conference games and three MWC Tournament games (one quarterfinal, one semifinal and the championship game).
--At least three appearances on the ESPN's Big Monday tripleheader each season. Also, ESPN or ESPN2 will televise the MWC Women's Basketball Championship game, plus one regular-season women's contest per season.