E-mail trail: ESPN wanted BYU in WAC to "mitigate" loss of Boise State
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How deeply involved was ESPN with the BYU-WAC negotiations? Again, the cache of emails from WAC commissioner Karl Benson and Utah State president Stan Albrecht — obtained by Salt Lake Tribune editors through a government open records request — sheds some light on the dealings. Here's an email from Benson to Fresno State president John Welty, dated Aug. 13 at 7:19 a.m., and CC'd to Albrecht, that shows how important it was to ESPN that BYU was in the WAC before it would renegotiate with the conference: John, I talked with Burke Magnus [ESPN director of Collegiate Sports Programming] yesterday re the future of the WAC agreement. While he admits that adding 2 or 3 BYU fb games per year to the inventory of WAC games available to ESPN will mitigate the loss of Boise State games — and that adding BYU basketball to the WAC will make the WAC a more valuable property — he isn't prepared to renegotiate the WAC agreement until after the BYU deal gets done. He also wants to be able to evaluate the remaining 8 WAC teams this coming fb season to determine if there is a team that can replace Boise State — i.e., Fresno State. And finally, they want to see if any other Mt. West teams follow BYU to the WAC. Give me a call if you want to discuss further, or we can talk about today's conference call. Also, Stan [Albrecht] wants to discuss further or we can talk about it on today's conference call. Also, Stan wants to use today's call to take official Board action regarding the 5-year binding agreement. I have a call this morning with WAC legal counsel to finalize a document that we will use to make this official and will forward that to the Board prior to the call."