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Gopher athletics to be part of new Big Ten Channel

New station will launch in 2007, feature sports and academic programming

June 22, 2006

Golden Gopher athletics will be part of a new television channel announced June 21 in Chicago by the Big Ten Conference. The new Big Ten Channel, which is scheduled to launch in August 2007, is a 20-year partnership between the conference and Fox Cable Networks. It will promote an array of Big Ten sports and academic programming, 24 hours per day and 365 days a year.

U athletics director Joel Maturi said the new channel, combined with new television contracts with ABC and ESPN, will result in a significant increase in the number of televised Gopher athletics events.

"In addition to seeing more Gopher football and basketball on TV, this new channel will double the number of Big Ten women's athletic events that get TV air time," said Maturi. "The new channel is also going to be great news for our other [athletics] programs as the number of televised 'Olympic' Big Ten sports is expected to go from 25 per year to 170."

"It's going to mean people are going to be able to watch Big Ten sports nonstop for 24 hours a day," Gopher women's basketball coach Pam Borton said in a statement. "It's going to be exciting. You're going to see more games, more sports, and share it with so many more fans across the nation."

What will I see on the channel?

The following programming will be on the Big Ten Channel and/or alternative Big Ten Channel platforms:

> At least 35 football games per season

> At least 105 regular-season men's basketball games

> At least 55 regular-season women's basketball games

> Big Ten championship events

> 170 Olympic sporting events

> Archived Big Ten events, including bowl games

> Coaches' shows

> 660 hours of institutional programming divided among the 11 member schools

--Big Ten

In addition to having their athletic events broadcast, each Big Ten member institution will have 60 hours of academic programming time allotted each year on the new channel.

The partnership with Fox Cable Networks will help the new channel get solid local and nationwide coverage, Maturi said. "Not only do they have one of the best track records at successful new channel launches, but the new channel will be available at launch through DIRECTV's Total Choice package, available in more than 15.4 million homes."

The Big Ten Conference negotiates television broadcast rights for all members of the conference, and revenue from those agreements is split equally among all 11 members of the conference. According to the Big Ten's Web site, the conference does not reveal the financial arrangements of its television agreements.

Maturi said that any additional revenue from the creation of the new channel would be used to strengthen academic support for student-athletes, maintain the viability and competitiveness of the university's 25 athletics programs and move the athletics department toward greater financial self-sufficiency.

"Like the other Big Ten universities, our athletics programs are an important doorway to our institution," President Bob Bruininks said. "The new Big Ten Channel will result in higher visibility for Gopher athletics and the entire University of Minnesota both in our state and nationally."

More information on the Big Ten Channel can be found at Gopher Sports.