BOSTON – The America East Conference and ESPN announced on Nov. 11 an 11-year extension to their current media rights agreement that will result in an unprecedented number of events being carried on ESPN platforms. The agreement commences with the 2016-17 academic year and will run through 2026-27.
"This extension and creation of 'The AE on ESPN3' signifies a historic moment for our conference," said America East Commissioner, Amy Huchthausen. "This initiative represents a significant commitment on behalf of our member institutions and I'm enormously grateful to our Board of Presidents and Athletics Directors Council for their vision and collaborative leadership to build an infrastructure that will showcase and promote their athletics programs and overall institutions to a wide audience."
America East's nine member institutions will work collaboratively with ESPN and the conference office to develop their own in-house production operations on their campuses. This will result in a significant increase in national coverage for multiple sports on ESPN3 branded "The AE on ESPN3" showcasing more than 3,000 America East events over the term of the agreement, starting with all men's and women's basketball games and adding other sports in future years.
UMBC will open its 21-game ESPN3 slate of hoop coverage on Wed., Dec. 7 when Phil Stern's women's basketball team hosts Morgan State at 7:00 p.m. Every Retriever basketball contest from that point will be streamed via ESPN3. The first men's game to be streamed will be on Sat., Dec. 17, when Ryan Odom's squad entertains local foe Towson at 7:00 p.m.
"This agreement comes at an ideal time for the America East Conference and for UMBC," Athletics Director Tim Hall said. "It will be wonderful for much larger audiences to witness our community celebrate Retriever basketball this season and as we move into the new events center, which will be shortly followed by other sports moving to the new platform. And I am very excited about the opportunities that these broadcasts will create for our media and communication studies students - past, present and future!"
UMBC veteran broadcasters Troy Green, Paul Mittermeier and Gary Stein will be joined by New York Times best-selling author John Feinstein and former UMBC women's basketball standout Raven Harris to call every second of Retriever basketball action, beginning on Dec. 7.
Currently, UMBC Athletics streams approximately 85 contests per academic year and that content will gradually move over to ESPN3.
The campus-based production model will also provide hands-on educational opportunities for students and provide valuable experience for those interested in careers in broadcast journalism and television.
"This new initiative with ESPN is going to elevate each institution, but more importantly the conference, ahead of many of our peers," said University of New Hampshire Director of Athletics and Chair of America East's Athletic Directors' Council, Marty Scarano. "This, on many of our campuses, is a cutting-edge advantage and puts us in a completely different place altogether institutionally. The benefits will be reaped not only by athletic departments, but across campus as well."
As part of the agreement, ESPN also retains the rights to the conference's men's basketball championship game, which has aired on either ESPN or ESPN2 each of the last 29 years. Additionally, select regular-season men's basketball games and other conference championship games, including women's basketball and men's lacrosse, will continue to be televised on ESPN linear channels.