ESPN’s conflicting role in major college football, particularly the Russian roulette game of conference realignment, has been well documented.  However, Division I-A football and the bowls are only a small slice of college athletics televised by ESPN.  ESPN’s contract with the NCAA to broadcast real championship tournaments isn’t to be confused with the agreements between respective conferences and pointless things like the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.  

In fact, the leader has quite the array of NCAA championships on the family of networks, which will only expand thanks to a massive new extension just agreed upon.  ESPN will add seven new NCAA championships in an agreement that goes until 2024.  2024!!  ESPN will just be lucky there even will be an NCAA by then… ya know, if Jim Delany’s plan for world domination works out.  Here’s the announcement from Bristol…

The new agreement includes 600-plus hours and 300 telecasts of live coverage annually across more platforms than ever before. It contains rights for ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3, ESPN 3D, ESPN Mobile, ESPN FULL COURT, GamePlan, Buzzer Beater, Goal Line, ESPN International, ESPN Deportes, and WatchESPN, with many of the 24 championships produced in high definition on ESPN HD, ESPN2 HD and ESPNU HD.

Exclusive coverage of the Division I Women’s Basketball Championship and broad rights covering the NCAA Division I Football Championship, and the Men’s and Women’s College World Series, among others, will continue on the ESPN networks.

“We have enjoyed a great relationship with the NCAA that has spanned the history of ESPN,” said George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN and ABC Sports, and Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks. “This is our most comprehensive agreement yet and ensures sports fans will have access to top-level NCAA athletics across ESPN networks and platforms.”

ESPN is adding coverage of seven NCAA championships: National Collegiate women’s gymnastics, National Collegiate men’s and women’s fencing, Division I women’s lacrosse, Division I men’s and women’s outdoor track & field and National Collegiate women’s bowling (previously sublicensed from CBS). ESPN will also air additional preliminary round coverage of selected NCAA championships including Division I football (FCS), Division I women’s volleyball, Division I softball and Division I baseball.

ESPN has televised several NCAA championships in the past week – from D I-AA, D-II, and D-III football to soccer to the NCAA volleyball championship.  Basically, ESPN’s extension with the NCAA is a way to further dominate the college scene and give even more live televised sports rights to feed their monstrous collection of networks and platforms.  While none of the sports listed above are quite the needle movers and money makers the BCS and March Madness are, the sheer amount of televisied college sports is impressive.  And who knows, by 2024, maybe men’s and women’s fencing becomes the next ridiculously popular niche sport???

[ESPN Media Zone]

Ed Note: And speaking of NCAA champions, a friend of ours and former staff writer at Awful Announcing, Aaron Torres, has written the definitive book on the 2011 Division I Men’s Basketball National Champions – the UConn Huskies.  The Unlikeliest Champion features interviews with top college basketball analysts like Jay Bilas, coaches, and others close to the UConn program.  The book features many behind the scenes stories and tells of UConn’s improbable journey to the top.  Having worked with Aaron closely at Bloguin, I can definitely tell you it’ll be worth the read.  You can visit the book’s website for more info and to order a copy.  Check it out!

About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.

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