The Big East and ESPN have made their television deal official.
Andy Katz of ESPN was one of the reporters who broke the news on Twitter:
This news doesn't come as a major surprise, as speculation about the deal had all but confirmed the conference would stay with the network. Although it had previously been reported the deal would be worth seven years, $130 million, the final numbers are unknown. Per ESPN's report:
Big East commissioner Mike Aresco issues statement that Big East and ESPN will continue agreement for years to come. TV deal done.— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) February 23, 2013
The deal is for seven years and worth $130 million through the 2019-20 school year, league sources said. The Big East's new deal is worth less per school than its current ESPN deal and six times less than what ESPN presented two years ago.
The conference did not reveal terms of the agreement in its announcement.
The contract is a rather stark reminder of how far the Big East has fallen. Big East commissioner Mike Aresco obviously feels confident the exposure the conference will get on ESPN will at the very least match that offered by NBC.
Getting national attention for the Big East is vital at this stage. The conference has been pillaged and plundered through realignment. The biggest football schools have left for greener pastures, with the seven Catholic schools also splintering off to form their own conference.
While still a very good basketball conference, the Big East has labored under the weight of its struggles in college football. The Big East's results on the field have been rather poor, and as a result, it has lost its automatic bid to the BCS (h/t Andrea Adelson of ESPN).
One interesting fact is that the network paid $300 million over 15 years for the Longhorn Network (h/t ESPN.com). Now it's giving only roughly $3.5 million more to an entire conference. That tells you about all you need to know as to where the Big East is in the pecking order of college athletics.