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Thursday, February 21, 2013
Sources: Big East, ESPN close to deal

By Matt Fortuna

The Big East and ESPN are finalizing a seven-year media rights deal worth $130 million through the 2019-2020 school year, league sources told ESPN's Brett McMurphy.

Last week, the Big East received an official offer from NBC Sports Network, but since ESPN is currently the primary rights holder it had one week to match NBC's offer to retain the Big East's rights.

ESPN matched the financial aspect, sources said. However, Big East commissioner Mike Aresco must be satisfied ESPN's deal matches NBC Sports Network's offer in all facets. Once that is concluded, the Big East presidents must approve the new deal. They could vote on accepting the deal as early as this weekend, sources said.

ESPN's deal with the Big East includes seven years for men's basketball (2013-20) and six years for football (2014-20). The deal breaks down to $10 million for the 2013-14 basketball season and $20 million starting in 2014-15 for football and men's basketball, sources said.

ESPN's package includes annually broadcasting 65 football games, 150-plus basketball games, a conference football championship game and the Big East men's basketball tournament on ESPN's family of networks, sources said.

The Big East's current basketball media rights deal with ESPN and CBS expires after the 2012-13 academic year, while the football deal with ESPN will expire after the 2013-14 academic year. The new deal will "sync" both sports through the 2019-2020 academic year.

Sources said CBS will also extend its men's basketball rights with the Big East, paying the league about an additional $2 million annually.

That will bring the Big East's total media rights value to about $22 million annually, starting in 2014 and, based on a 12-team league, worth about $1.8 million per school annually.

To read Brett McMurphy's full story, click here.