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Report: ESPN Rejects Big Ten's Final 7-Year, $380M Contract Offer for Media Rights

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 9, 2022

Big Ten logo (Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

ESPN has reportedly ended contract discussions with the Big Ten after rejecting the conference's latest proposal, which was for a seven-year, $380 million extension.

John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal reported the update Tuesday, one day after Andrew Marchand of the New York Post noted the Big Ten was closing in on agreements with CBS, Fox and NBC worth over $1 billion in total.

ESPN's current deal with the Big Ten checked in at $190 million, and the extension talks didn't include guarantees for the conference's top games, per Stewart Mandel of The Athletic.

If talks aren't reopened, it'll mark the first time in 40 years that ESPN won't carry coverage of Big Ten football or basketball, per Marchand.

It'll also raise questions about the future of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, an annual men's basketball series showcased on the network during the nonconference schedule.

In the bigger picture, it's the latest adjustment in the rapidly changing landscape of college sports.

The first domino to fall came in July 2021, when Oklahoma and Texas announced they'd accepted an offer to move from the Big 12 to the SEC no later than June 2025.

That jump-started a whirlwind series of moves as conferences jockeyed to ensure they wouldn't be left out in the cold when the new alignments went into place, and it's continued in recent months with UCLA and USC confirming a move to the Big Ten in 2024.

Having those two high-profile West Coast programs joining a traditionally Midwest conference showed realignment has become less about regional rivalries and more about putting together as many notable schools as possible.

As a result, the Big Ten was able to carry more leverage into contract talks for its television rights and appears likely to secure three exclusive windows for football (all times ET): Fox at noon, CBS at 3:30 and NBC in prime time, per Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic.

Big Ten play kicks off August 27 with Northwestern vs. Nebraska in Dublin, Ireland, and Illinois' home game against the Mountain West's Wyoming Cowboys.

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