Big Ten, Fox Sports together for six seasons

By Etheria Modacure

It all started on June 12, when the University of Nebraska was approved to join the Big Ten Conference beginning July 1, 2011. Shortly after, Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, was chosen as the site of the conference’s first championship game on Dec. 3, 2011.

Now the Big Ten has partnered with Fox Sports to televise the first five conference championship games from 2011 through 2016. The deal was made on Nov. 17 with the network, which broadcasts the World Series, Super Bowl, Cotton Bowl and NASCAR races.

“Fox has got a fabulous reputation [for] acquiring sports properties [and] presenting that cutting-edge promotion and production,” said Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany during a teleconference on Nov. 18. “They are the home of the big event.”

Delany said everyone associated with the Big Ten conference is pleased and excited with Fox Sports agreeing to carry the conference championship game for five years.

The Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference and Big XII all have television contracts that televise their football conference championship games. With the loss of Nebraska to the Big Ten and the

University of Colorado to the Pac-10, the Big XII will not have a conference championship game next year in football.

Losing the Bowl Championship Series games were a big blow to Fox, a network looking to increase its presence of college football coverage. With the addition of the Big Ten conference championship game,the network expressed its gratification and excitement through its chairman and CEO David Hill.

“We’ve been so excited since the inclusion of Nebraska into the Big Ten and the opportunity to broadcast the championship game,” Hill said.

Fox had the rights to air every BCS game except the Rose Bowl from 2007–2010. ESPN signed a four-year deal in 2008 to cover BCS games from January 2011

to 2014.

Hill said economics forced the network to bow out gracefully, though its coverage was far more than it promised to any of the commissioners of the six BCS conferences (Big Ten, Big East, SEC, ACC, Big XII and Pac-10). Fox was home to the memorable Statue of Liberty play at the 2007 Fiesta Bowl between Oklahoma University and Boise State University.

“The Big Ten has a certain quality around it similar to conferences like the SEC,” said Fox Sports President Eric Shanks. “Having a brand new event is extremely exciting.”

Delany wouldn’t discuss how much money the conference will receive from its agreement with Fox Sports but did note each of the 12 schools will receive an equal distribution of money from the deal.

With the Big Ten Conference championship game in Indianapolis next year and not having a set location for the next few years, Delany acknowledged the conference is in a good position being surrounded by a wealth of good venues in the Midwest.

“I think it’s possible it could be in a multiple city situation,” Delaney said. “We’re fortunate in our area of the country to have multiple [arenas] in basketball and football.”