ACC, ESPN strike big deal

When Pitt can get its share up in air

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The Atlantic Coast Conference announced a long-term TV deal with ESPN Wednesday through the 2027 season that will mean a lucrative annual payout for Pitt once the Panthers leave the Big East.

The deal is worth $3.6 billion over 15 years according to The Associated Press which will equal some $17.1 million a season for member schools.

"Without question the addition of Syracuse and Pitt impacted these discussions with ESPN," ACC commissioner John Swofford told the ACC Digital Network.

"Not only is the financial aspect of it important, and this will have a significant financial impact on our schools, the exposure aspect of the television agreement is tremendously important as well."

Exactly when Pitt will be able to cash in still is unclear.

Joe Bailey, interim commissioner of the Big East, offered little insight Wednesday about whether Pitt and Syracuse will be able to leave the conference early as his predecessor indicated earlier this winter.

Bailey replaced John Marinatto on an interim basis, following Marinatto's resignation Monday after a year marked by massive change and tumult in the conference.

The former NFL executive made his first comments in his new role on a conference call with media, but said he simply can't answer if Pitt and Syracuse would be able to leave in 2013 and skirt the league's 27-month exit clause.

"I wish I could see around corners, but I can't," said Bailey.

"So, really, I would not want to in any way speculate what's going to happen in regards to those schools either way. It's not my position to think that way.

"I think you have to recognize that my role is this transition role, transformational role, preparing this particular position for another person."

Marinatto said in February that "given the strength and speed of our expansion efforts, I think our board might be open to a discussion about 2013."

Bailey did not indicate when those discussions might heat up again and said he may have a better sense of that in the next few weeks.

Financial security was the leading reason Pitt decided to uproot its athletic programs in the first place.

The Big East, which is set to renegotiate a TV contract this fall, earns less than $40 million annually in TV revenue. When the Panthers and the Orange announced their intent to join the ACC in September, it triggered a renegotiation clause with ESPN.

The ACC's new contract includes 30 more men's basketball games, 14 more football games and a minimum of 10 women's basketball games.

The previous deal was worth $1.86 billion for 12 years and announced only two years ago.

"The exposure it gives us for all of our sports is pretty spectacular," said Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson.

"It's all the things you want -- strength, stability and exposure."

Pederson said he expects the Big East will stand behind its comments made earlier this year that it is in everyone's best interest to move forward.

He did not say if the ACC's new deal was structured to include Pitt in the 2013 or '14 seasons.

Some of the numbers inside the new TV contract between the ACC and ESPN:

3.6 Billion dollars the contract will be worth to ACC schools over the life of the deal.

2027 The year the deal is set to expire.

17.1 Million dollars each school can expect to take in annually.

tvradio - pittfball

First Published May 10, 2012 1:30 AM


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