Austin, Texas The University of Texas and ESPN defended the $300 million Longhorn Network on Thursday amid uncertainty over whether Texas A&M will remain in the Big 12 after expressing concern over its archrival’s exclusive television outlet.
The Longhorn Network launches next week. Although Texas is not the first school to have its own sports network, it’s the first time ESPN will be behind one.
“The opportunities are just huge for each (Big 12) institution,” Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds said. “I think as time goes by we’ll all learn how to better use those opportunities and get past somebody having a network.”
Texas A&M may not be willing to wait. The Aggies are considering leaving the Big 12 and have reached out to the Southeastern Conference. A&M president R. Bowen Loftin said this week there is no timetable for a decision, but that whatever happens will boil down to “visibility for us and our athletes and our financial resources.”
During an open house of the Longhorn Network studios, on the outskirts of the UT campus, Dodds sounded confident of the Big 12’s survival. He called the league too unique to mirror the television deals struck by the Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, and said he believed every Big 12 school could launch a network of its own.
Dodds singled out Kansas State, which this week announced that it will launch an online sports network.
“I think in 30 years the Big 12 will look smart for doing it this way,” Dodds said.