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ABC believed bowl expansion devalued deal

11/19/2004

NEW YORK -- The Bowl Championship Series won't be on ABC
after next season.

The network that has been the home of college football's four
major bowl games since the current system for crowning a national
champion was implemented in 1998 has pulled out of contract
negotiations with the BCS.

Earlier this month, the BCS opened up the bidding for the
broadcast rights to the Orange, Sugar and Fiesta bowls after being
unable to come to an agreement with ABC during the exclusive
negotiating period.

"We have taken our bid off the table," Loren Matthews, senior
vice president for programming for ABC Sports told The Associated
Press on Friday.

The national title game rotates between the Sugar, Orange,
Fiesta and Rose bowls every four years under the BCS. The Rose Bowl
negotiates its own TV deal and recently re-signed with ABC through
2014.

ABC has been paying about $25 million per year for the rights to
the Fiesta, Sugar and Orange bowls. The current deal runs through
the 2005 season (including the New Year's holiday bowls of January 2006).

Earlier this year, BCS officials voted to expand the BCS to five
games in the 2006 season to give two more teams access. The
championship game will be played at the site of one of the current
BCS games.

"Certainly, it's not any dislike of the sport or the BCS. It
just didn't make financial sense and didn't appear to us that it
would, going forward under their new format, make financial
sense," Matthews said.

Officials with the network had previously acknowledged that they were unhappy with the proposal to expand the series to five bowls, which they believe devalues the system, a source familiar with the talks told ESPN.com's Darren Rovell.

"With the addition of this fifth game, frankly it's adding
another game that just doesn't matter in the national championship
race."

BCS coordinator Kevin Weiberg didn't immediately return messages
seeking comment.

Fox Sports is believed to be the frontrunner among the networks that currently televise college football.

"Representatives from Fox have met with officials from the BCS, and those meetings included a free exchange of ideas," said Lou D'Ermilio, senior vice president of media relations for Fox Sports. "We think the BCS is a great event and would fit well into our programming approach to sports."

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, contributed to this report and can be reached at darren.rovell@espn3.com.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.