Texas A&M is hellbent on making sure that the Longhorn Network is unable to broadcast high school sporting events.
And now they’re going to the NCAA to make sure they shut the book on it for good.
According to documents obtained by CBSSports.com, A&M is citing a nearly 20-year-old bylaw, that when interpreted to modern-day, could prevent the LHN from airing its 18 high school events a year — or, a single one for that matter.
The rule is bylaw 126.96.36.199, which prevents programs from releasing “institutional publication[s]” as an “athletics representative of the institution”. The rule was enacted back in the 1990’s to stop newsletters, magazines and the like from publishing content related to specific university-sponsored sports and recruiting.
For 2011, A&M wants the LHN to be classified as such.
“The NCAA, in allowing institutions to create video-based publication agreements without any restriction on content, is opening Pandora’s box,” A&M’s request states.
Recall that Texas and ESPN’s biggest issue was ensuring they were completely compliant with NCAA bylaws in their desire to broadcast high school games. However, observing even minor NCAA mishaps has already proven to be a challenge and Texas/ESPN subsequently put the idea on hold.
Outside of the Lone Star state, the Pac-12 and Big Ten are awaiting the NCAA’s response with bated breath. Their own decision to broadcast high school games will be conditioned on the NCAA’s ruling.
But what the NCAA will decide could alter the face of revenue-producing college athletics as we know it — more so than any conference realignment ever could.
The supposedly magnificent recruiting advantage Texas would receive via such broadcasts has felt overblown; the NCAA issues were not, however.
With a handful of very powerful conference commissioners advocating the streamlining of the NCAA’s rulebook, an open world of high school broadcasts would be nothing short of counterproductive to those efforts. Getting rid of agents and runners would be impossible.
The Big 12’s athletic directors are set to meet tomorrow (Monday) to discuss “institutional networks”. What is said in that meeting could have a lasting effect on the sport (impressive for a conference on reportedly shaky ground).
So could Mike Slive. The SEC does not have its own conference network and will undoubtedly push for the ban of airing high school sports.
And Slive’s word carries some weight.
But it ultimately comes down to whether the NCAA agrees with A&M, even if it’s on a principle other than bylaw 188.8.131.52. If they do, there will be no high school games and the business will evolve in other ways.
If they rule in favor of Texas/ESPN, well, a book will be shut alright.
But it will be the NCAA rulebook, no longer deemed applicable.