E-mail trail: ESPN wanted BYU in WAC to "mitigate" loss of Boise State
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."