Aug. 26, 2002
NEW YORK - The National College Sports Network (NCSN) today announced an exclusive seven-year programming agreement with the top Division 1-AA conferences, allowing the soon-to-be-launched 24-hour college sports network to air the "best-of-the-best" Division 1-AA football games on a weekly basis. The agreement is unprecedented in that it is the first made with a national television network by a consortium of Division 1-AA conferences. It takes effect starting with the 2003 football season.
The ten-conference agreement includes 90 colleges and universities that comprise the Atlantic 10 Conference, Big Sky Conference, Gateway Football Conference, Ohio Valley Conference, Patriot League, Southern Conference, Southland Conference, the Southwestern Athletic Conference, and two others to be announced shortly.
"For college football fans, it doesn't get much better than this," noted Brian Bedol, co-founder and CEO of the National College Sports Network. "While NCSN will be the home and a showcase for the best of all college sports, the agreement with Division 1-AA football is an exceedingly important milestone in helping us build that home."
Division 1-AA football is the highest level of collegiate football that features an NCAA Championship tournament. Division 1-AA has produced some of the greatest NFL football players to have ever played the game, including Walter Payton (Jackson State), Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley State), and the current NFL MVP Kurt Warner (Northern Iowa).
Other celebrated players from Division 1-AA schools include current NFL stars Randy Moss, Steve McNair, Rich Gannon, Jay Fiedler and coaching legend, Eddie Robinson of Grambling, who has the most wins in college football history. The Division also features many classic rivalries including Grambling/Southern, Montana/Montana State, and Lehigh/Lafayette.
"On behalf of the group of conferences that have entered into this agreement, I want to express our excitement about being a part of the first national I-AA conference package," said Linda Bruno, Atlantic 10 Commissioner and Chair of the 1-AA Television Committee. "All of us believe that this will become a benchmark in I-AA football history and look forward to the increased visibility NCSN offers our programs, and most importantly, our student-athletes."
"We are excited by the opportunity to broadcast some of the best college football in the country," said Chris Bevilacqua, NCSN executive vice president and co-founder. "As evidenced by the past and present success of 1-AA alumni in the NFL, a national network like NCSN will finally shine a light on the great programs and student-athletes that make up 1-AA Football for their millions of fans and alumni. It's a win-win for everyone."
To date, NCSN has announced multi-year, multi-sport programming agreements with nine conferences including The BIG EAST, Big Ten, Atlantic 10, West Coast, Big South, Southland, Mid-Continent, Ohio Valley and Northeast. Others are on the horizon.
The National College Sports Network (NCSN) is the first cable network devoted exclusively to college sports, including a significant commitment to women's sports. It was co-founded by Brian Bedol, Stephen Greenberg and Chris Bevilacqua. Mr. Bedol and Mr. Greenberg were co-founders of Classic Sports Network, which they later sold to ESPN. Mr. Bevilacqua is a former senior executive with Nike Inc. where he headed that company's successful foray into the college market. NCSN is headquartered in New York City. It is expected to launch during the first quarter of 2003.