BYU football: Cougars, Big East haggling over TV deals?
Tom Smart, Deseret News
PROVO — Amid growing speculation and reports regarding BYU's potential move to the Big East Conference, conflicting stories continue to arise, including one that says the Big East rejected the latest proposal by BYU.
Big East and BYU officials are not talking publicly about the negotiations.
This past weekend, John Hitt, president of Big East candidate Central Florida of Conference USA, told the Orlando Sentinel there is "frustration" over hang-ups in TV contracts involving potential invitees like BYU.
Hitt said Conference USA members Central Florida, SMU and Houston, along with Mountain West Conference member Boise State, are all onboard to join the Big East, but a "variety of issues" have popped up during the past month that "have delayed a joint official announcement."
Hitt said there are potential invitees who are not very happy with the delays.
One source with close ties to Conference USA told the Deseret News on Monday that the Big East has rejected some of the conditions requested by BYU, and that many Big East schools and potential invitees are frustrated with how BYU played its cards.
That is contrary, however, to a declaration by Washington Examiner reporter Jim Williams, who is closely connected with key figures in the Big East and TV networks on a national level. Williams told the Deseret News on Monday that it was BYU officials who rejected a deal that appeared agreed upon last Thursday.
A well-placed Big East source told Williams on Monday that, as of last Thursday, a deal between BYU and the Big East had been reached. The plan would pay BYU more money for home games than its present deal. So, it went to the lawyers for their OK.
"BYU officials rejected the reported deal," said Williams. "The Big East and the BYU lawyers keep working on a deal. … Both sides want a deal and are working to get it done. That is where it is now.
"BYU has been accepted by the Big East members in a preliminary vote, with San Diego State as a backup ready to go," Williams continued. "They are keeping everything quiet in hopes of getting a deal done within 10 days or less. If it can't get done, then San Diego State is in."
There is word that the Big East is not happy with comments coming from Central Florida out of Orlando.
The optimism by Williams is not shared by the Conference USA source, whose school is expected to join the Big East.
"BYU was insisting on two things that would never be agreed to by the Big East: (1) BYU wanted to retain the television rights to all BYU home games, and (2) BYU wanted the ability to leave and take all its television rights with them if the Big East lost AQ status, even if the Big East lost it because AQ status was eliminated," the source told the Deseret News.
"In essence, BYU wanted to only partially join the Big East and get a preferential exit if they did not like it or things changed. The Big East would not be able to get the existing Big East teams to agree to this scenario, and it is unlikely the new ones would either. Those conditions would also hurt the Big East in television contract renegotiations.
"Boise State has agreed to accept San Diego State as the western partner required by the Idaho Board of Education for Boise State to join. SMU, Houston, UCF and Navy have agreed to all terms to enter as soon as Boise enters," the C-USA source said.
The C-USA source, however, suggests late changes by BYU hung up the deal and he admitted Navy isn't completely at ease with its TV partners, who currently hold rights.
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