Men's Basketball, Sports

ESPN, Big West agree to expand basketball package

Expect to see the Big West Conference gain a little more national exposure this season.

ESPN and the Big West agreed to a new, expanded five-year contract that includes a minimum of 12 annual national telecasts including men’s basketball games and other conference events on ESPN2 and ESPNU, Big West commissioner Dennis Farrell announced Tuesday.

“We are extremely excited for our league and our basketball program,” Long Beach State head coach Dan Monson said. “Exposure is so important for college basketball programs and we are no exception. It is important for recruiting as well as for our fans.”

The agreement runs through the 2013-14 season and includes: a minimum of five annual regular season men’s basketball games, including four on ESPNU and one on ESPN2; the Big West Tournament semifinals at the Anaheim Convention Center televised annually on ESPNU and the championship game televised annually on ESPN2; and at least four additional Olympic sport events on ESPNU.

“The Big West is excited to enhance its visibility with our television partner ESPN,” Farrell said in a press release. “The deal further promotes the Big West on the ESPN family of networks and is a tribute to our long standing relationship.”

Also, the conference will gain additional exposure on ESPN through its involvement with the 76 CLASSIC, an annual Thanksgiving men’s basketball tournament hosted by the Big West at the Anaheim Convention Center, the press release said. Three appearances for the Big West representative during the 12-game, three day event are included and will appear on either ESPN2 or ESPNU.

“We are thrilled to expand our 20-year relationship with the Big West to include increased coverage of the conference on ESPNU,” said Rosalyn Durant, ESPNU’s vice president and general manager. “This agreement illustrates our continued commitment to showcasing a diverse array of college sports content from around the nation.”

Additional coverage may be potentially available on ESPNU BracketBusters, a two-day men’s basketball event pitting hopeful NCAA Tournament teams from 17 NCAA Division I conferences against each other. Largely based on their RPI at the end of January, 26 schools will be selected to compete in 13 televised games on either ESPN, ESPNU or All nine Big West schools are included in the 102-team pool.

LBSU will host a BracketBuster game Feb. 21, 2009 against an opponent yet to be determined at the Walter Pyramid. Last year, the 49ers went on the road to face New Mexico State, which will visit the Walter Pyramid Nov. 30.

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