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NBC and Notre Dame Renew Sports Pact

The University of Notre Dame and NBC Sports have signed a new five-year agreement which will keep Fighting Irish football games on NBC through 2015.  Though terms were not disclosed, the previous five-year deal with Notre Dame cost NBC $45 million.  With the new deal in place, it brings relationship between the network and college to 25 years, going back to 1991.  Quite telling that NBC was so committed to renewing their deal, despite the fact that Notre Dame is coming off their worst record ever (3-9) in 2007. The full press release follows after the jump.

Press release courtesy NBC Sports


New Agreement Calls For 8 Games Per Year Including Primetime Off-Site Home Game

“Notre Dame, unquestionably, is one of the premier brands that defines who we, at NBC, are.” — Ebersol

NEW YORK and SOUTH BEND, Ind. – June 19, 2008 – The University of Notre Dame and NBC Sports today announced a new five-year agreement under which NBC will televise Irish home football games through 2015, which will mark the 25th year of the partnership. The extension provides NBC rights to eight Notre Dame home games from 2011-15, seven games at Notre Dame Stadium and an additional eighth off-site home game airing in primetime each year. The landmark relationship began in 1991.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be continuing our landmark agreement with Notre Dame, the most storied brand in college sports,” said Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Universal, Sports & Olympics. “This new deal, which will bring us to 25 years as partners, is great tribute to the wonderful relationship that Ken Schanzer has built with the entire Notre Dame community.”

Notre Dame President Father John I. Jenkins said: “For almost 20 years, the innovative partnership between Notre Dame and NBC has been a valuable relationship for both the University and the network, and we are delighted that will be extended by another five years,” he said. “Our fans and student-athletes have benefited, of course, but, most importantly, it is the general student body that has realized the greatest gains. In a collaboration unlike any other in higher education, revenue derived from the NBC contract has provided millions of dollars in financial aid to hundreds of deserving students at Notre Dame, and we are pleased that this support to the academic mission of the University will continue.”

Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis added: “I’m thrilled on two levels to hear that Notre Dame will maintain its great relationship with NBC. As the head football coach, it is very beneficial for the program to have all of our home games broadcast into every living room in the country for the foreseeable future. As an alumnus, it is great to know that future students at Notre Dame will benefit from this partnership in the form of need-based scholarships.”

The joint announcement was made today by Ebersol, Ken Schanzer, President, NBC Sports; and Father Jenkins on a media conference call. For a complete replay, dial 719-457-1820 and enter passcode 3584277. Highlights follow:

EBERSOL ON THE PARTNERSHIP: “The announcement of our association with Notre Dame back in 1990 was one of the great moments in the history of NBC Sports so we’re obviously thrilled to be continuing this landmark partnership with Notre Dame. Notre Dame, unquestionably, is one of the premier brands that defines who we at NBC are things like the Olympics, the NFL, the United States Open, and Notre Dame. And now to have this, and guarantee we’ll have a partnership of at least a quarter of a century.”

FATHER JENKINS ON NBC RELATIONSHIP: “The strength of this deal really is about two institutions. I think what we appreciated so much is NBC’s respect of Notre Dame as an institution. It’s not a short term deal. It’s not a deal with a particular individual. It’s a deal with an institution. That’s what makes it so enduring for a quarter of a century we’re looking at.”

SCHANZER ON THE PARTNERSHIP: “It’s always been about more than football. Notre Dame is the gold standard on so many levels, not just in terms of the history of its football program, but in the elegance of the institution, and the degree to which one can rely upon the fact that the university and its representatives are always going to comport themselves in ways that make you proud to be associated with them and allow you to live in the reflected glory of that nobility. This is a very, very special day for me. It’s the fifth deal we’ve made with Notre Dame. My hope is that we’ll go on beyond 2015 when that day arrives. At the end of the day this agreement is testimony to the leadership of Father Jenkins at the university.”

FATHER JENKINS ON PRIMETIME GAMES: “We have scheduled teams who want to play us at off-site venues because it’s as great for their program as for ours. That’s how we were able to schedule these eight games.

“NBC has always been accommodating to us on that even though their viewership increases as the game gets later. So we’ve stuck to that. But with the off-site games, they’re off campus. So it doesn’t present the problem of disrupting campus life and the academic activities on campus. In fact, it’s easier for our fans to travel. If it’s at night, they can travel during a Saturday. So this worked out well for both of us. Again, it just shows the way NBC has accommodated us. Even though their viewership would increase later, they accommodated our concerns about on campus games. And the off-site games provide an opportunity to have a primetime game broadcast by NBC.”

EBERSOL ON HOW NBC COVERS NOTRE DAME: “From the very beginning, Kenny [Schanzer] and I made it clear back in ’91 to the producers and the talent who started with it, and it’s still made clear to them, that they are to deal with all of the issues and spare no punches.”

FATHER JENKINS ON BENEFIT TO FANS & STUDENTS: “This is just a great day for Notre Dame. First of all, our fans get to see eight games broadcast across the nation into their living rooms. That’s wonderful for our fans. Secondly, it’s very important that revenues we realize in this deal go to not only support student athletes, but students who are financially needy and will be enabled to go to Notre Dame who otherwise would not be able to go to Notre Dame.”

Revenues from the NBC partnership have played a key role in Notre Dame’s financial aid endowment since the start of the relationship in 1991. University officers decided then to use a portion of the football television contract revenue for undergraduate scholarship endowment (not athletic scholarships). To date, some 2,400 Notre Dame undergraduate students have received nearly $26 million in aid.

The University also has committed NBC revenues to endow doctoral fellowships in its Graduate School and MBA scholarships in its Mendoza College of Business.

The revenue generated through the NBC relationship is a primary reason why Forbes magazine has recognized the substantial financial contributions made by Irish athletics to the University’s academic enterprise. In a 2007 survey, Forbes reported that the Notre Dame football program returns $21.1 million to academic initiatives, a total that is more than the survey’s next five programs combined.

NBC has been televising Irish home games since 1991, and this marks the fifth of a series of five-year agreements with Notre Dame. The original agreement covered the 1991-95 seasons. The first five-year extension (announced in 1994) covered 1996-2000, the second extension (announced in May ’97) covered 2001-05, and the third extension (announced in Dec. 2003) covers 2005-10. By the conclusion of this latest extension, NBC will have televised Notre Dame home football games for 25 consecutive seasons.

NBC’s schedule of Notre Dame home games in 2008 features dates against San Diego State (Sept. 6), Michigan (Sept. 13), Purdue (Sept. 27), Stanford (Oct. 4), Pittsburgh (Nov. 1) and Syracuse (Nov. 22).

Source: NBC Sports

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