The SEC will announce another new television deal, this time for its very own network, for another formidable pile of money here Thursday, and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier plans to once again raise concerns about sharing the wealth.
“As the commissioner and the presidents and the athletic directors all say, we are going to make a whole lot more money,” Spurrier said. “My question is, ‘When are we going to start giving a little bit of it to the performers?’ Football and basketball players. It won’t do any good probably, but I’m going to still keep yelling for them. They bring in an awful lot of money for all of us.”
Thursday’s event doesn’t feel much like a debate, though. More like a celebration. It is being tabbed officially only as an “announcement event,” and it is a star-studded one in the scope of sports. Along with SEC Commissioner Mike Slive and ESPN president John Skipper, more than 30 of the conference’s head coaches in football and men’s and women’s basketball will be on hand. ESPN host Dari Nowkhah will emcee the event at the Hyatt Atlanta Regency.
The announcement is the unveiling of the long-in-the-works SEC Network, which will carry nothing but sports and sporting news about the 14-team conference. The creation of the network will increase the SEC’s annual payout to each member school by around $1.5 million, according to an analysis by USA Today. SEC schools each received around $20 million last year from the conference.
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Spurrier, who is expected at Thursday’s event, doesn’t think his argument will get much traction this week if ever, he said.
“It should, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of activity out there to get these athletes three or four thousand bucks a year,” he said.
The SEC will become the third major conference to have its own television network, joining the Big Ten and the Pac-12. Thursday’s announcement originally was scheduled for April 16 but was postponed two weeks by the bombing of the Boston Marathon.
The ACC has plans to open its own network in the future, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said this week.
“I think they are working on that, I sure do,” he said. “We have a great conference and the more we can brand it and promote it, the better.”
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, who won two national titles at Florida, is a fan of the Big Ten Network and is surprised it has taken the SEC so long to catch up in this area. The Big Ten Network launched in 2007 and has been credited with adding millions to the coffers of that league’s schools.
“I just think it’s great for our conference and the SEC should be doing that,” Meyer said. “I never even thought about (a network) until we got up there. I am a little surprised (they haven’t already) because the SEC is the No. 1 conference right now.”