Texas, ESPN announce new network

AUSTIN, Texas -- ESPN and the University of Texas will combine on a 24-hour television network showing Longhorns sports as well as original series, studio shows, historical programming and other academic and cultural events.

There also will be an online component to the network offering content not featured on the linear TV feed.

ESPN will help develop, launch and operate the network. It will also handle distribution of the network, which is unnamed as of now. The deal is worth $300 million over 20 years. The network will launch in September.

Included in the coverage will be at least one exclusive football game, eight men's basketball games, women's basketball coverage of games not televised elsewhere, and Olympic sports coverage. There will also be pregame and postgame shows for football and basketball games, coaches' shows for every sport Texas sponsors and other daily programming. Plans call for 200 events a year.

In addition, there will be university news, coverage of lectures and visiting speakers along with commencement ceremonies, and even high school coverage on an authenticated online/broadband site.

"This is an extremely exciting new venture for our university," University of Texas president William Powers said in a statement. "With our partners, we are now able to increase the exposure of our outstanding athletics programs and our first-class academic and cultural communities. This agreement provides significant new resources to enhance faculty and academic support."

Later, at a news conference, Powers said: "We want to define what it means to be 'the' public university. The challenge is to create new sources of revenue to support our mission." At least $25 million will go to the academic side of the university over the next five years, Powers said.

"What an exciting day for Texas athletics," said Texas football coach Mack Brown. "I applaud DeLoss [Dodds, the school's athletic director] and president Powers for all of their work in getting this done. Any time you can partner with ESPN on a project, you know it's going to be first class and that it will present unbelievable exposure opportunities for all of our sports and the university."

"This network is a testament to the school's remarkable, tradition-rich success and widespread, devoted fan base," ESPN president George Bodenheimer said in a statement.

Powers said Texas is "firmly committed" to the Big 12 and that league officials knew Texas was pursuing a network deal even conference realignment threatened to pull apart the Big 12 last summer. Texas started researching a network deal in 2007.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.