May 2, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
ATLANTA -- A new network. More games on television. More money in the coffers of every conference school. But the new SEC Network that was announced Thursday will offer more than just riches to Auburn and the 13 other league schools.
Non-revenue sports and its athletes will benefit, too, from increased exposure.
The SEC announced the network and its digital component will debut in August 2014 will feature 1,000 games a year. The headline: 45 football games, more than 100 men's basketball games, 60 women's basketball games and 75 baseball games will be televised in the first year. Other sports will have their time, too. The SEC Network will be operated in conjunction with ESPN. The league also announced it has signed a new contract with ESPN through 2034.
All 14 of the league football coaches were on hand to endorse the plan.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive didn't reveal how much each conference school will receive with the new deal.
The focus Thursday was on football, now destined for the new network, the ESPN networks and CBS in 2014. Pay-for-view games will end after this 2013 season.
"The conference has always put us in a competitive situation with all of our different assets," said Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs. "We'll be the most exposed league in the nation now. It's just a continuation our relationship and our contract."
"It's very impressive," said Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn. "The future is bright. The commissioner did a great job with ESPN, and it's going to be very exciting."
Every SEC football game has been available on various formats for years. Jacobs said every sport in his department will benefit from the new network.
"It gives our Olympic sports great coverage coast to coast," Jacobs said. "I look at it as well as it gives parents, family and friends of our student-athletes an opportunity to see them to compete that they may not have now. Everything is upside to it. It's win-win for everybody involved."
Auburn soccer coach Karen Hoppa said she'll see benefits in her sport.
"I think it's massive for all our Olympic sports," she said. "The football games were already on TV. For us, it will provide significantly larger exposure. Most of the Olympic sports recruit nationally, so, for example the kids in California and their parents can watch us on TV and that will help us.
"For us, to be on TV more often, will be really significant, in both recruiting and providing a great service to our student-athletes and our fans."
Swimming coach Brett Hawke said the network will "keep us in the mainstream media. That's always a good thing for us."
Auburn president Jay Gogue worked with Slive on the direction of the new network. He said it was "about a two, two-and-a-half-year process."
"The commissioner visited with all the presidents on their own campuses probably a year and half or two years ago to discuss it and see what the arrangement could be."
Gogue said he wanted to be sure the "student" element would also be told in the stories about student-athletes.
"There a lot of good stories on these campuses," he said.
Gogue also said it was satisfied with how Auburn handled recent national stories, including one by ESPN, that questioned the athletic departments handling of players being tried for felonies, and the use of synthetic marijuana by players.
"It's just the day in the life of a university president. I think the response to a lot of the stories that came out afterward indicated a different perspective," Gogue said.
Specifically, he said "we were really disappointed in the story. We didn't know if it was accurate or not...I didn't. When you get in and begin do all your careful reviews and analyze everything said, we didn't find anything. In my judgment, it was a story that went out and was refuted."
Follow Auburn on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine