University, ESPN work to draft contract for Longhorn Network

Victoria Pagan

The ESPN network is working to finalize programming contracts with UT and the Pac-12 Conference without assuming complete control of broadcasting rights, according to the Austin American-Statesman and Pac-10 News.

According to the licensing agreement between UT and ESPN acquired by the Statesman, the University will have authority to fire any Longhorn Network on-air spokesman determined to be inappropriate or unfit to represent the University.

ESPN college sports communications director Keri Potts said this provision was set in place only for extreme cases of inappropriate comments or conduct.

Nick Voinis, UT’s senior associate athletic director, said such an agreement is standard in corporate contracts and that some local media have misinterpreted it.

“This clause does not punish for being critical of a UT team,” Voinis said. “It is about extreme cases of comportment, harmful behavior and misrepresentation of our institutions.”

The contract also includes a set of proposed figures for production costs and overhead.

According to the Statesman, ESPN expects to spend $11 million to set up a studio, $15 million for its first-year production costs and $11 million on additional overhead.

On Wednesday, ESPN and Fox networks also announced a 12-year agreement to broadcast multiple Pac-12 Conference events on various ESPN televised and online networks.