An NCAA spokesman confirmed today that “nothing has changed” in regard to a recent ruling prohibiting high school sports content on school networks, meaning high school football highlights will not be headed to the Longhorn Network _ yet.
But the final verdict about the future of youth sports programming on school- or conference-branded networks will be up to the NCAA board of directors _ comprised of school presidents _ and will not be decided for another six to nine months, NCAA officials announced.
Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice-president for academic and membership services, characterized Monday’s summit with 24 representatives from schools, conferences or television networks _ including five with ties to either Texas or the Longhorn Network _ as the “start of an educational process that will lead to a final policy decision … by the presidents.”
Of more immediate concern locally were plans by LHN officials, expressed Thursday, to show high school football highlights on Texas’ 24-hour network in conjunction with ESPN despite a recent NCAA ruling that its bylaws “prohibit youth programming on institutional and conference networks and broadcasts.”
ESPN officials contended that the bylaw applied only to live game telecasts, not news-related highlights. But the ruling remains in place, NCAA director of public and media relations Erik Christianson confirmed in an email.
“Regarding … highlights, it was a topic of discussion today, among many. Nothing has changed,” Christianson wrote. “We will continue to review the issue.”
Monday’s update on the NCAA website did not address highlights.
The Longhorn Network, scheduled to launch Friday, has locked up multiple small distributors and entered into final negotiations with Verizon and Grande Communications to carry the network, the Sports Business Journal reported Monday. But there has been no announcement by ESPN or school officials.
Nick Voinis, Texas’ senior associate athletics director for communications, said carrier agreements “notoriously happen at the last minute” and school officials envision adding several before Sept. 3, when LHN will carry the team’s football season opener against Rice. Voinis declined comment about high school highlights on LHN.
Follow Jimmy Burch on Twitter @Jimmy_Burch.
_ Jimmy Burch