WAC, ESPN agree on extension through 2016-17

Updated: September 4, 2008, 1:53 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Western Athletic Conference and ESPN have agreed to a seven-year contract extension that will give the network multi-platform rights through the 2016-17 academic year.

As a result of the comprehensive deal, ESPN will receive rights to distribute WAC football, basketball, Olympic sports and conference championships across its television networks, as well as ESPN360.com and ESPN Mobile TV. As part of the agreement, ESPNU will obtain rights to televise conference-controlled games for the first time beginning with the 2008-09 season.

"For the past five years, WAC football has benefited greatly from the exposure it has received from ESPN," said WAC commissioner Karl Benson. "The WAC values its relationship with the 'leader in college sports' and is confident that this extension will allow WAC football to continue to be a prominent player in the BCS. But just as important, this deal will finally get the WAC's men's basketball teams the type of national exposure it deserves. And finally, for the first time ever, women's basketball regular-season games will be aired on the ESPN networks along with the championship contests for volleyball and women's basketball."

"The WAC is a significant player on the college landscape and we are thrilled they will call ESPN home through 2016-17," said ESPN senior vice president Burke Magnus. "You cannot talk championship level teams without including WAC members in that conversation. With this agreement, college sports fans will continue to see -- in a bigger and better way -- the quality and depth of the conference as well as the passion and enthusiasm of their supporters."