Big East, ESPN a go

The Big East conference and ESPN, in a press conference last week at the ESPN Zone in New York, announced that they have agreed on a six-year broadcasting contract extending into the 2013 season for both basketball and football.

The new deal will benefit St. John’s in men’s and women’s basketball, replacing the old contract that’s set to expire next year. The new pact will run through the 2012-2013 season.

“As a mainstay on ESPN for nearly three decades, the Big East has delivered many memorable moments,” said George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports. “We are thrilled to expand that long-standing relationship through this unprecedented collaborative effort, which will supply conference action to fans however they experience sports.”

ESPN has stated that ESPN and ESPN2 will carry a minimum of 60 games each year for men’s basketball, as well as carrying all of the games in the Big East Tournament. Of the minimum 49 regular season games carried by the network each year, 41 will be inter-conference contests, while eight will not.

Additionally, ESPN’s family of networks, which is comprised of ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPNU and ESPN Today, will produce 139 of the 144 slated conference games, with the remaining five being picked up by CBS.

Women’s basketball will also benefit from the new agreement. The Big East, which has had the most games televised on ESPN the last two seasons, will expand upon the old contract by having an average of 11 games per season broadcast on ESPN.

ESPNU is also guaranteed a minimum of 15 games, including six inter-conference contests, and the Big East Tournament Final will air on either ESPN or ESPN2 as it has in the past.

Big East football was also included in the deal, signing a contract through the 2013 season that will guarantee them 17 games per season on ESPN, ESPN2, and ABC.