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July 26, 2006
OXFORD, Ohio -- Miami University Director of Athletics Brad Bates announced today that Miami has entered into an agreement with ESPN, Inc. to broadcast nine Miami home contests during the 2006-07 academic year. In addition to the two football games already being televised on the ESPN family of networks, the deal will put two men's basketball games, an additional football game, one women's basketball game and three ice hockey games on the air, giving Miami nine home telecasts on ESPNU.
"This is an exciting day for Miami athletics," said Bates. "ESPNU will give us a new level of national exposure that will no doubt aid in the recruiting efforts of all our sports. We are thrilled to have an opportunity to put this many of our sports on the national scene and showcase what a wonderful place Miami University is."
The agreement with ESPNU makes Miami one of the few institutions in the country to have an exclusive deal with ESPN's latest venture and comes on the heels of the announcement of a network-wide broadcast schedule that saw Miami land football games on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU this season. Miami's Aug. 31 home-opener versus Northwestern is slated for ESPNU, while the RedHawks' homecoming contest with Northern Illinois will appear on ESPN at 8 p.m. on Oct. 8. The RedHawks' late-season road contest at Bowling Green on Nov. 15 will be televised on ESPN2.
"This deal further solidifies our commitment to serving fans wherever they watch, listen discuss or debate college sports," said Burke Magnus, vice president and general manager, ESPNU. "Through this pact, ESPNU will offer fans across the country the opportunity to see a variety of Miami (OH) athletics."
The first game of the package on Aug. 31 will mark just the second time in Yager Stadium history a Big Ten opponent - Northwestern University - will play in Oxford. The Wildcats tied for third in the Big Ten last season and were 7-5 overall. They have played in postseason bowl games two of the last three years, including last year's Vitalis Sun Bowl vs. UCLA. Miami's last win versus a Big Ten opponent came in 2003, when it knocked off Northwestern Wildcats, 44-14, in Evanston, Ill. The game was a coming out party for then-junior quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who passed for 353 yards and three TDs.
The football game versus Ohio University on Nov. 24 is part of the new agreement, putting three of Miami's five home contests on one of the ESPN stations. It also marks Miami's third appearance on ESPNU in the last two years. Miami made its debut on ESPNU last season when the RedHawks and first-year head coach Shane Montgomery downed Ohio, 38-7, in the season finale.
"Increasing our national exposure is something we must continue to do," said Montgomery, who led the Red and White to a share of the MAC East title in his first year at the helm. "Our efforts to recruit nationally have paid off in last few years and we have landed some outstanding players that might otherwise not have chosen Miami were it not for our television appearances."
Making its first appearance on the ESPN family of networks will be Miami's women's basketball team. ESPNU will broadcast a yet-to-be determined Mid-American Conference game from Millett Hall in either January or February as head coach Maria Fantanarosa and the RedHawks look to take another step forward in the MAC. Fantanarosa guided the Red and White to a MAC title in 2004 and advanced to the second round of the WNIT.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for our program to reach people who might not be familiar with Miami basketball," said Fantanarosa, who enters her ninth season leading the RedHawks. "We have a lot to offer to our student-athletes in terms of both academics and athletics. This gives us another way of showcasing those opportunities."
Fantanarosa's women's squad will not be the only group from Millett making a national television appearance through this agreement. Head coach Charlie Coles' men's basketball team finds itself with two nationally-televised games through the deal. Like the women's team, the games to be televised have not yet been announced but will include at least one conference contest in either January or February and could involve a non-conference opponent.
"Any time you can be on national television it is going to be beneficial to your program," said Coles, who has guided the RedHawks to the postseason four times during his 10 years in Oxford. "This is an opportunity that not many other schools in our league will have and gives us the chance to show the country the quality of basketball that is being played at Miami University and in the Mid-American Conference."
The final element of the agreement sees three ice hockey games being broadcast from Steve Cady Arena at the Goggin Ice Center, the new home of Miami hockey. The first two of those contests will come as part of the Ice Breaker Invitational, a season-opening tournament that involves Miami, Denver, Colgate and Vermont on Oct. 6-7. All four games will be televised nationally, including Miami's season opening contest versus Denver on Oct. 6, which will serve as the dedication game for the $34-million facility.
The date of the fifth game has not been determined but will come during one of the six home contests that head coach Enrico Blasi's RedHawks play during January and February.
"For us to compete and achieve our goals, we must to be able to recruit nationally, and this agreement will help us in that effort," said Blasi, the 2006 Spencer Penrose National Coach of the Year. "Being able to showcase our new building to a national audience can only help our program continue its move forward."
Between the football and men's basketball teams, Miami has appeared on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU more than 15 times since 2002.
For ticket information for any Miami sporting event, click or call 1-866-MUHawks.com, or visit the athletic ticket office located in Millett Hall.