ESPN, CIAA Reach Agreement For Tournament Coverage

By Off the BASN Sports Wire
Updated: November 9, 2004

NEW YORK — ESPN Inc., and the CIAA, the nation’s oldest Black College athletic conference, have reached an agreement for unprecedented coverage of the league’s tournament.

Through the deal, ESPN2 will televise the 60th annual CIAA men’s basketball tournament championship game live from the RBC Center in Raleigh, N. C., March 5, 2005, at 6:00 p.m. ET during Championship Week. In addition, ESPN Classic will televise the men’s quarterfinal and semifinal matchups (March 2 and 4).

The pact will provide the CIAA Men’s Tournament — the third most attended basketball tournament in collegiate athletics – with extensive coverage on ESPN. In addition, it will be the first NCAA Division II conference tournament to be televised as part of Championship Week. The CIAA drew a record 104,500 fans to the 2004 tournament.

“This is historic on a lot of fronts and a watermark deal for the CIAA, HBCUs and Division II athletics,” CIAA Commissioner Leon G. Kerry said. “This year is ESPN’s 25th Anniversary, and the network reached this milestone because of visionary decisions such as this.”

“ESPN sees the entire sporting landscape and because of their foresight, the CIAA will be along side some of the best events in sports television.”

Under the terms of the three-year agreement, ESPN Classic will carry seven of the CIAA Tournament games live, with four games airing in prime time.

ESPN Classic reaches more than 54 million households. Urban Sports and Entertainment Group, based in Cornelius, N.C., negotiated the deal with ESPN on behalf of the CIAA. Ford Motor Co. will be the entitlement sponsor of the telecast.

“The CIAA has a rich history, and a great story to tell,” said Crowley Sullivan, Vice President, Programming and Acquisitions, ESPN Classic and ESPNNEWS. “In the 60 years of the CIAA Tournament, it has produced legendary players like Earl Monroe, Earl Lloyd, and Ben Wallace, and coaches like ‘Big House’ Gaines and John McLendon.”

“That kind of legacy is a perfect fit with ESPN Classic. Between ESPN and ESPN Classic we plan to share the history and the culture of the CIAA with millions – and to show how that tradition is tied to the competition today.”

In addition to the CIAA basketball Tournament, ESPN Regional Television will distribute five regular-season CIAA basketball contests in the local markets of the competing teams.

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association was founded in 1912 as the Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The CIAA is based in Hampton, Virginia, and is America’s oldest Historically Black College and University (HBCU) athletic conference and is made up of 12 HBCUs situated along the Eastern Seaboard.