Will Boise State Keep Its Separate Media Rights Deal For Football?
Broncos release statement stating unhappiness with provision.
Relationship on thin ice?
The Mountain West media rights deal was recently announced and overall it seems to be a pretty good deal with games being split on Fox Sports and CBS Sports.
There was one point in the teleconference with Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson when asked about Boise State’s side deal which allows them to earn not only a higher payout but to negotiate where their games are aired.
The Broncos will be with the rest of the league with Fox Sports owning the rights to its home games. However, Thompson sort of alluded to that this is the last time that Boise State can negotiate its own deal.
For those unaware, the Mountain West agreed to allow Boise State to negotiate its own media rights deal, and the extra money that comes with it, to stay with the Mountain West and not take its football program with the Big East.
The deal was thought to be forever but Thompson’s comments, when asked in the teleconference, make it seem that might not speak the case.
Q. Craig, for the uninitiated, I know when people talk about Boise State, there’s some misconceptions about it. I was wondering just in the simplest terms, I’ve been around, and I know I can try to explain the best I can. How would you explain their situation and how that works with the conference and with TV rights?
CRAIG THOMPSON: Well, quite simply, we negotiate Boise State’s home football games separately, and we did for this contract. This will be arguably the last contract we will negotiate Boise State separately, but their membership agreement when we named them the Mountain West Conference years ago was predicated on us negotiating their home games separately.
One more time in a follow-up.
Q. Craig, I want to follow up on one thing quickly. You had mentioned before that this might be the last time you negotiate Boise State’s deal separately. I was wondering if you had any more insight into that.
CRAIG THOMPSON: That is the whole membership agreement was discussed in December with the board of directors, and as we move forward, that is the anticipation, that everybody’s membership agreements would get more germane and equal, if you will. But this will be the last Boise State separate negotiation for television rights.
Boise State AD Curt Apsey “I’d rather not comment” when asked about it on KTIK-FM recently. Then on Friday night, the school sent out a statement saying they disagreed that this most recent media rights deal with Boise State being the last where they have a side deal.
“The Mountain West stated that this was the last time our deal would be negotiated separately,” Boise State said in Friday’s statement. “However, Boise State’s decision to join the conference was predicated on a number of negotiated provisions, including the right to separately negotiate material terms of media rights relating to our home (football) games.
“This is stated in our conference agreement and cannot be changed by any vote of the membership or conflicting agreement. We will not support any change to this provision and are in the process of weighing our options to move forward.”
Things will get interesting with what each side decides to do because this will escalate to some degree.
Will there be a legal battle?
The Mountain West wanting to keep its TV deal altogether under one roof makes sense since Hawaii already has its own deal for home games and Boise State of late.
Perhaps looking at the contract is the best way to go about this.
Since I am no lawyer so consider that with this next statement. Reading into specifics on this it seems there might be a way out for the Mountain West to no longer separate a media rights deal. Yet there is also language that says this could go on into the future.
As for what will come next, who knows. There could be a lawsuit between the Mountain West and Boise State to figure this out.
That could be messy and if things go south it could be the second time under Thompson’s leadership that the conference could lose its marquee brand. Last time it was losing BYU over not being able to rebroadcast games on BYUtv.
If there is some legal battle in the future it does seem interesting that it is starting right now just days after the deal was announced. However, Thompson also was not exactly clear in his comments regarding the Broncos own deal.
The leadership within the Mountain West schools probably does not like that Boise State has its own deal and there is new leadership compared to who was around to make the deal to keep Boise State.
Odds are they would want to vote to remove this stipulation, and the details of the contract are what will be the first step in determining what is next in what could be a year’s long battle between the two sides.
Does Boise State deserve a side deal?
This is a big question. When the Broncos were in the WAC they were typically a top-20 team and there were three times they were ranked in the top 10 — once while in the Mountain West. That is why the Mountain West wanted Boise State so bad to remain with them.
That New Year’s Eve of 2012 is when the Broncos decided to remain in the league and also earned them its own TV deal for home football games.
Since that dominance in the WAC and first two years of the Mountain West, the Broncos have taken a dip since then.
Boise State does have one New Year’s Six victory, four conference titles with one being a shared championship, and the past three years ranked in the 20s. While that is still very good plus including the top 10 finish in 2012 and a pair of top 20 finishes but also three years of not finishing the season not ranked. That is a far cry from those top-10 finishes that the Broncos had in the WAC.
While those are still really good achievements but they are not elite and there can be a conversation about the Broncos deserving this extra money. Yet, the Boise State brand is miles ahead of anything else in the conference and perhaps they are worth it on that end.
Boise Stae has few options of its own if there could not be a deal reached to their liking. They could go to the AAC who is now at 11 teams but would they be able to have elite success in a league where there are a few more top-heavy teams compared to the Mountain West.
Independence would be an issue for a lot of reasons for football. Notably scheduling 12 games a year and that could be an issue if the Mountain West were to shun the Broncos like they did with BYU for years after they decided to go independent. Also, there needs to be a spot for its non-football sports and going all the way down to the WAC would be a huge drop-down for all of its other sports.
It is still extremely early to know what will happen next and who knows if it gets ugly or if the two sides can figure things out.