ESPN alleges that the parties reached a tentative agreement and planned additional meetings to negotiate the finer points before a deal was to be finalized. Conference USA, however, never met with ESPN, nor did they provided ESPN a final offer before it announced it was signing a $43 million dollar media rights deal with FOX.
ESPN claims their contract with Conference USA mandates that the conference must provide ESPN with a final offer before it would be allowed to negotiate with another network.
“Rights agreements are at the core of our industry,” said ESPN. “ESPN and Conference USA reached an agreement on a new extension after a prolonged negotiation. The conference then changed their position out of the blue and reneged on that agreement. At best, they violated our right to be given an opportunity to consider a final offer.”