• Extra Points
  • Posts
  • Here's why Conference USA signed a Grant of Rights agreement

Here's why Conference USA signed a Grant of Rights agreement

If you're a CUSA fan, I recommend you back away from the ledge

Good morning, and thanks for your continued support of Extra Points.

Do you know what news story has inspired the greatest amount of reader mail this week? Not anything related to ACC expansion. Not anything related to EA Sports College Football. Not anything related to NIL, Washington D.C, or any of the actual D-I college football games that will be played this weekend.

It was this story from Friend of the Newsletter Chris Vannini of The Athletic, that stated that Conference USA institutions signed a Grant of Rights agreement as part of their newest media rights deal. To the best of my knowledge, CUSA’s peer conferences, like the MAC, MWC and Sun Belt, have not signed similar agreements.

My readers wanted to know why. So I called up folks at a variety of CUSA institutions, as well as the league office.

Everybody I spoke to told me that the Grant of Rights provision was part of the media rights negotiation with ESPN and CBS. Everybody I talked to also believed that the new media rights deal, even with several conference games being moved to the middle of the week, is substantially better than what the league had before, both in terms of linear exposure opportunities, and in rights fees, and if signing a GOR was a necessary step to secure that deal, then it was worth it.

One league AD told me that without a GOR, CUSA would not have been able to secure as many linear broadcast opportunities with ESPN and CBS that the league enjoys now.

Like GOR agreements with other, larger conferences, this agreement does establish a level of security and stability in league membership. It would be pretty expensive for a CUSA member to leave this year for another conference opportunity. A different AD told me that the agreement is one of the many reasons why he’s sleeping a little better at night, since he can feel more confident in the league’s stability, for at least the short term.

But unlike say, the ACC’s GOR, a school isn’t going to need to borrow money from a private equity group to leave. The CUSA media rights deal is about $800,000 a year, so leaving with five years left would come out to $4 million dollars, plus any league exit fees That’s probably too much for any member of the league, unless the Big 12 came calling. But $800,000 at two years? $1.6 million plus exit fees is a different negotiation.

From talking to folks affiliated with schools that could potentially leave CUSA over the course of the deal, and from talking to folks that probably won’t have other options, the consensus was that the GOR was a net positive and not something fans should be concerned about.

It’s a tradeoff of short-term league affiliation flexibility for medium-term access to linear broadcast exposure.

And it’s that kind of exposure that will make weekends like this one possible. Week 0 starts this Saturday, and you can watch UTEP play at Jacksonville State at 4:30 on CBSNM, UMass play at New Mexico State on ESPN on 6 PM God’s Time Zone (7 PM ET), or FIU play at Louisiana Tech at 8 PM on CBSSN. Three CUSA games, all on linear broadcast television.

Speaking of TV, here’s a quick word from one of our sponsors

If you’re looking for a job in the sports industry, be sure to subscribe to the Work In Sports Newsletter, which is full of job openings all over the industry. The newsletter is free, and has listings you can’t find anywhere else:

Openly’s Work in Sports NewsletterThe best place to discover new and innovative opportunities to work in sports.

What else did we publish this week?

You can access everything we make here at Extra Points, from our computer game to FOIA Directory, to every single newsletter, by subscribing right here:

And if you work in college athletics, or teach sports media, management, or business, you can get all of that, plus curriculum support, classroom discussion questions, and tools to help your students find jobs in the college sports industry, by signing up for D1.classroom. It’s only $25/student, and with bulk purchases, that can drop to below $20. That’s a screaming deal, in my humble opinion.

I’m going to make some more calls so I’ll have fun newsletters for you to read next week. This weekend, I’m looking forward to enjoying a cold beverage or two and watching some UMass and New Mexico State football.

I’ll see you in your inbox next week.

This newsletter is also brought to you in part by Principles Friday.

Discover the guiding principles of extraordinary individuals and unlock the wisdom of legends, with Principles Friday—a weekly dose of inspiration from iconic minds, such as Michael Jordan, Nelson Mandela, Jeff Bezos, and other famous people. Subscribe here, for free!

If you’d like to buy ads on Extra Points OR in ADS3000, good news! They’re affordable, and we have openings this season. Drop me a line at [email protected]. If you have news tips, I’m at [email protected]. Otherwise, I’m at [email protected], @MattBrownEP on Twitter, @ExtraPointsMB on Instagram, and @MattBrown on Bluesky

Join the conversation

or to participate.