The University of Texas is getting its own television channel, featuring all the great Texas sporting events that you never wanted to watch. The new network will feature at least one football game a year, eight men's basketball games, assorted nonrevenue sporting events, high school sports, university news, coverage of lectures and visiting speakers, commencement ceremonies ... I know, I know, you have the same question I do: WHERE DO I SIGN UP FOR COVERAGE OF THESE AWESOME LECTURES?
ESPN is playing Texas $300 million over the next 20 years for the privilege of distributing the network. Like all of you, I look forward to watching this channel, especially its nightly one-hour live special, "Bevo Takes A Leak." I am thrilled for the University of Texas and especially the city of Austin. I visited Austin for a few days once and still cannot fully explain why I left. What an amazing city.
And of course, I am thrilled for the whole state of Texas, which plans to use the $300 million to buy the state of Nebraska, then donate Nebraska to charity, just to prove that Texas doesn't need Nebraska.
In the last 50 years, we have gone from amateur sports, to conferences finding revenue streams to keep athletic departments solvent (and support the nonrevenue athletes), to coaches making millions of dollars a year while star players can't get paid, to this: Texas is going so far into its own financial stratosphere that the rest of the Big Twelvish can't possibly keep up.
If you're a Texas fan and you think, "Oh, come on, 95 percent of schools would do this if they had a chance," I think you're wrong. It's more like 98 percent. So this isn't about Texas. I don't fault UT at all.
But the NCAA is trying to run a billion-dollar business with amateur employees, and it's not a tenable situation. Just for example: By most accounts, the Longhorns' network will feature coverage of high school games.
I find this interesting, because the other night, as I was reading the NCAA rule book to my four-year-old (she wanted to know why there were no princesses in it, and I said "Be patient, sweetie, it's all explained in Rule 16.4.7.03, Paragraph (e)"), I came across this little section:
13.10.3 Radio/TV Show. A member institution shall not permit a prospective student-athlete or a high school, college preparatory school or two-year college coach to appear, be interviewed or otherwise be involved (in person or via film, audio tape or videotape) on:
(a) A radio or television program conducted by the institution's coach;
(b) A program in which the institution's coach is participating; or
(c) A program for which a member of the institution's athletics staff has been instrumental in arranging for the appearance of the prospective student-athlete or coach or related program material.
To translate (c): Schools cannot arrange for recruits to be on television.