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Big East and ESPN Reportedly Finalizing $130 Million Media Deal

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 27:  (L-R) Curtis Johnson, head football coach, Ed Conroy, head basketball coach, Scott Cowen, University President, and Rick Jones, head baseball coach, hold the Big East banner after accepting an invitation to the Big East Conference during a press conference at Tulane University on November 27, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Ethan GrantAnalyst IFebruary 22, 2013

After a fierce bidding war between NBC and ESPN, the latter has emerged as the suitors for athletic events featuring Big East schools.

ESPN's Brett McMurphy reported on Thursday night that ESPN finalized its deal with the Big East in a seven-year agreement between the two sides:

ESPN & Big East finalizing 7-year media rights deal worth $130M, league sources tell @espn

— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) February 22, 2013

According to McMurphy's official report for ESPN, the deal will include seven years of basketball and six years of football coverage. Here's an additional breakdown of some of the fine points that are reportedly going to be included:

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.

Pending a vote by Big East presidents (which could happen sometime this weekend), the deal is all but final.

After NBC Sports made an aggressive bid for the league in the neighborhood of $20-$23 million per year, ESPN was given a week to match or exceed that offer to retain broadcasting rights (via McMurphy).

ESPN matched that offer on Thursday afternoon (via Sporting News), but the two sides were still working on ironing out the exact details of where the money would be allocated over the life of the new deal. According to McMurphy, each team in the conference will get $22 million for football and basketball:

Although the Big East is in a state of influx after the loss of West Virginia to the Big 12 in 2012 and the announcement of several other schools having intentions of leaving the league as soon as possible.

The $130 million number doesn't come close to the mammoth deals that the SEC, Big 12 or Big Ten have secured in separate deals over the past few years, but based on the current teams committed beyond 2013, it seems like the best deal that was out there during this process.

Cincinnati, Connecticut, South Florida, Temple, Central Florida, Houston, Memphis and SMU are the confirmed schools that will be participating in Big East football starting in 2013. The conference will continue to look for new schools to add to its growing roster, and this new media deal with ESPN should help. 

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