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Kansas senator calls on DOJ to research function ESPN performed in Texas, Oklahoma transfer to SEC

A senator from Kansas referred to as on the Division of Justice (DOJ) to research the alleged function that ESPN could have performed within the College of Texas’ (UT) and the College of Oklahoma’s (OU) choice to maneuver from the Massive 12 Convention to the Southeastern Convention (SEC).

Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, despatched a letter to Legal professional Common Merrick Garland on Wednesday elevating issues about ESPN’s function in UT’s and OU’s convention shift out of the Massive 12.

Marshall famous that the faculties had been invited by the SEC to hitch after saying that they “don’t intend to resume their contract with the Massive 12 convention,” and highlighted the “much less obvious” allegations that ESPN “is encouraging and dealing to make sure this transfer happens.”

WHAT LEAVING THE BIG 12 FOR THE SEC WOULD REALLY MEAN FOR OKLAHOMA, TEXAS

The Kansas senator pointed to information experiences that illustrated the Massive 12 had proof of manipulation by ESPN and commented that Massive 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby “even despatched a cease-and-desist letter” to the community accusing them of attempting to poach groups for the SEC.

Moreover, the senator wrote that the commissioner is claiming ESPN has spoken to a minimum of one different convention about including the departing members of the Massive XII convention.

“One other article experiences that ESPN acquired the prized SEC on CBS package deal, giving them 100 p.c of the SEC’s tv rights,’” Marshall wrote, citing a report on the matter. “As a result of they’ve the tv rights to the SEC they’ll profit from the additions of Texas and Oklahoma immensely.”

“Conveniently, the ESPN-SEC deal begins in 2024 and their contract expires with the Massive XII solely a yr later when the groups are slated to hitch the SEC,” Marshall added.

The Republican senator wrote that, whereas he doesn’t know the phrases of the contract, “the U.S. Supreme Court docket has determined that the unique proper to televise all league video games is a violation of anti-trust legal guidelines.”

He additionally added that laws beforehand “handed to overturn this choice for skilled soccer” didn’t apply to varsity ball and, due to this fact, don’t obtain the anti-trust exemption.

“I write at the moment to ask that the DOJ examine ESPN’s function within the potential destruction of the Massive XII Convention and if any anti-competitive or unlawful conduct occurred referring to manipulating the convention change or ESPN’s contractual tv rights,” Marshall concluded.

In a Friday e-mail, a spokesperson for ESPN pointed Fox Information to a letter despatched by the corporate’s president of programming and unique content material Burke Magnus to Bowlsby after his accusations, saying they’re “with out advantage” and that the Massive 12 commissioner’s letter consisted “fully of unsubstantiated speculations and authorized conclusions.”

“To be clear, ESPN has engaged in no wrongful conduct and, thus, there may be nothing to ‘stop and desist,’” Burke wrote. “We belief this can put the matter to relaxation.”

The spokesperson additionally pointed Fox Information in direction of feedback from Jay Hartzell, the president of UT, who instructed the Texas Senate “completely, categorically, no” when requested if Texas had conversations with ESPN in the course of the convention realignment course of. 

ESPN additionally pointed to feedback made by American Athletic Convention Commissioner Mike Aresco denying plotting with ESPN to poach Massive 12 groups.

“Whereas ESPN is a valued accomplice, I’ve to take a second to deal with some accusations which have been made up both straight or not directly in opposition to our convention,” Aresco stated at a press convention on Wednesday.

“Our convention — and I say this categorically — our convention has by no means strategically aligned or plotted with ESPN to affect convention constructions. We wouldn’t do this. ESPN has by no means carried out that and wouldn’t do it,” he continued. “Any ideas or statements that we colluded with ESPN with regard to the construction of every other convention, because it’s a very unfounded and grossly irresponsible accusation.”

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UT and OU introduced final week that they might permit their contracts with the Massive XII to run out by 2024 and transfer to the SEC by 2025.

DOJ didn’t reply to Fox Information’ request for remark.

Houston Keene is a reporter for Fox Information Digital. You’ll find him on Twitter at @HoustonKeene.

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