University of Texas regents give go-ahead for sports network

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — University of Texas regents on Wednesday gave their blessing to the school’s pursuit of a so-called Longhorn network of cable TV sports programming.

Regents met behind closed doors with school President William Powers Jr. to discuss the plan. The regents’ academic affairs committee then publicly voted to allow Powers to pursue and sign a contract.

ESPN has confirmed it is in talks with Texas to distribute the proposed network. ESPN and school officials have declined to discuss how much it would be worth or other details. Fox Sports, reportedly interested in developing the declined comment Wednesday.

Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds said the school is “working on a deal but (we) do not have it yet.”

Texas has been considering launching its own network for several years. It was one of the reasons the school chose to stay in the Big 12 rather than accept an offer to join the Pac-10, which wanted to control broadcast rights.

“We have a national brand with the Longhorn, and we feel it’s something we can do,” Dodds said.

Texas is expected to model its network after the Big Ten Network, a 3-year-old venture reportedly delivering about $70 million a year to the conference. A Longhorn Network would be Texas-specific, although Texas football and basketball rights are now part of deals the Big 12 conference has with ESPN/ABC and Fox.

Dodds said the school began considering a Texas network a few years ago when the Big 12 members starting talking about a league network.

“We felt a Texas network would work better than people seeing a 12th of Texas on a conference network,” Dodds said.

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