We talked with Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky on the show this morning--very interesting. Of course, the major topic of interest pertains to the status of the Memphis/Louisville basketball series in the future.
We asked Banowsky about this, and here's the crux of what he had to say: The University of Memphis had to know about the language of the contract because each of the University Presidents in Conference USA negotiated the deal. He said it would have been impossible for University personnel (the President, Chancellor, etc.) not to have seen the document.
He also said that there should have been no ambiguity in regards to ESPN's role in this situation--if ESPN wants a particular matchup (this is important--even if that matchup has not yet been scheduled), ESPN is contractually obligated to get that matchup. Essentially, if ESPN wants Memphis/Louisville instead of Louisville/Marshall, then they would get it. ESPN's deal trumps individual team contracts with other schools.
There's a lot of food for thought there. On the one hand, I still contend that it was foolish for Britton Banowsky to leave so much of the power in ESPN's hands, and I think that there was far too much wiggle room given to the departing schools. On the other hand, the University of Memphis should have been well-informed of these provisions, and should not have relied on the conference to serve as the broker for this deal. At some point, the blame falls on the University of Memphis administration for apparently not doing due diligence on these contracts and being caught off-guard by an entirely predictable scenario.
I wonder how it will all play out if ESPN asks for Louisville/Memphis, and Louisville has to break an existing contract with either Marshall or Central Florida? Could get ugly.