Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Writing Contracts Is Hard

Or so it seems for Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky. We talked about it the new controversy extensively on the show this morning; basically, Conference USA allowed Louisville and Cincinnati to leave the conference without paying the $500,000 exit fee. In exchange, Louisville and Cincinnati agreed to play two games against C-USA members at the television rightsholder's discretion.

Here's where it gets murky. U of M AD R.C. Johnson says he was told that one of Louisville's games would involve Memphis every year. Louisville AD Tom Jurich says there's no reason for R.C. to think that, since that's not in the contract anywhere. Here's the wording of the deal:

"... as requested by the Commissioner, in order to accommodate the entity holding the basketball broadcast rights under the conference's television package the withdrawing member must play at least two basketball games per season ... against institutions who are members of the conference."

Read that again. Tell me where you see the part about Louisville having to play Memphis. Keep reading, if you want. Maybe you'll eventually see what Britton Banowsky apparently saw, because the language isn't there. Britton Banowsky has proven once again that he is an incompetent commissioner.

Here's a passage from Gary Parrish's article in today's Commercial Appeal:

"Asked if that meant Louisville could meet its obligation with games against Marshall and Central Florida so long as ESPN was OK with it, Banowsky replied, "I guess, theoretically, if ESPN, you know, wants to see matchups that have already been made, then that's fine."

Asked if he would allow this, or has any legal right to object and force Louisville to play Memphis in order to create a marquee game for C-USA, Banowsky declined to speculate.

"We're just going to take this one step at a time," he said. "We'll cross that bridge if we get to it."

As Eli said this morning on the air, when are you going to get to that bridge, Britton? Aren't you there? Will you only act once Louisville's game against Central Florida (and not Memphis) has tipped off? What a clown.

C-USA and the U of M have no leg to stand on here. Unfortunately, the only way the Memphis/Louisville series will continue is if Louisville decides it will. And they won't. Louisville's got a double-tough Big East schedule and they won't need another high-profile opponent. It's hard to imagine, but the University of Memphis has once again been screwed over by its own conference.

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