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October 5, 2011

UT makes concessions on LHN as part of granting rights

According to multiple sources, Texas, after talking to ESPN, has agreed not to air any content involving high school athletics, not even the news-style highlights that had been approved by the NCAA, sources told Orangebloods.com Wednesday night.

It's the latest attempt to reach peace in the Big 12 as part of an agreement in principle for schools to grant their Tier 1 and 2 TV rights to the conference for six years.

The "compromise" deal was struck Wednesday after Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas gave Texas a 24-hour deadline to consider the Tier 3 content concessions, which impact Texas the most because of its Longhorn Network, sources said.

The question is if this agreement will be enough to keep Missouri in the Big 12.

Missouri was more interested in a proposal that would grant rights for the 13 years remaining on the Fox television deal struck with the Big 12 in April, sources said.

Missouri and Oklahoma pushed for high school content restrictions on Tier 3 (that would impact the Longhorn Network) as part of the 13-year proposal, sources said.

But talks about granting rights for 13 years broke off after negotiations started Sunday night and went into Monday, sources said.

The talks broke off, in part, because Texas was hesitant to commit to granting rights for more than a decade while also having to make concessions on content impacting the Longhorn Network.

So Texas agreeing to restrict any and all high school content for the next six years, while also granting rights for that length ended up as the compromise, sources said.

Although, a key source said late Wednesday it's still possible the agreement could end up being for 13 years once the Big 12 decides on its final number of members.

Some schools in the Big 12 were wary of allowing more than one football game, including conference games, to be aired at the Tier 3 level. But that was not part of the compromise. Schools will continue to be allowed to air at least one football game and additional games could include conference games.

Big 12 presidents and chancellors are expected to talk early Thursday to formally finalize an agreement. It remains to be seen how Missouri will react. But multiple officials across the Big 12 are hoping Mizzou reacts favorably by joining the agreement and staying put.

TCU, BYU and Louisville continue to lead as potential targets of the Big 12. But a key source said West Virginia is not out of the picture, either.

Stay tuned.



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