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Pacific 10 Conference hopes for television bidding war

Fox, ESPN, Comcast and Turner Sports will fight for the rights to 2,700 events a year.

March 31, 2011|Staff and wire reports

The Pacific 10 Conference has spent more than a year preparing for the moment when it can put its television rights up to bid on the open market for the first time since its expansion. With Fox's exclusive negotiating window expiring Thursday, the conference can shop the rights to some 2,700 events a year and a possible partnership in a Pac-12 network to a bevy of interested media and technology companies.

The conference will have 12 teams with the additions of Utah and Colorado, covers one-fifth of the country and is the last major-college property on the market for at least a few years. That is expected to lead to fierce bidding from incumbents Fox and ESPN, as well as Comcast and Turner Sports.

College sports have fared well on the market in recent months, with the Atlantic Coast Conference reportedly getting $155 million a year for its rights and the Big 12 Conference close to finalizing a deal with Fox, according to SportsBusiness Journal, that will make its total annual package worth about $130 million. That's less than what the Southeastern ($205 million) and Big Ten ($220 million) conferences receive, but far more than what the Pac-10 pulled in this academic year — less than $60 million.

Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott has not publicly said what he thinks he can get in the new deal, but he clearly is shooting high. One key mark will be $170 million per year, because USC and UCLA would get $2-million bonuses until that level is reached.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Wichita State wins NIT title

J.T. Durley and Graham Hatch scored 12 points each, and Wichita State (29-8) overwhelmed top-seeded Alabama, 66-57, to win the National Invitation Tournament championship at New York.

Tony Mitchell had 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Crimson Tide (25-12.)

Illinois said Coach Bruce Weber will remain at the school after reports said he was a strong candidate to fill the vacant job at Oklahoma. … Wyoming hired Florida associate head coach Larry Shyatt as its coach, with the sides agreeing to a five-year dealHeath Schroyer

Washington guard Isaiah Thomas announced that he will skip his senior season with the Huskies and make himself available for the NBA draft.

ETC.

Walker shoots 63 in Houston

Jimmy Walker tied the course record with a nine-under-par 63 and had a two-shot lead over Josh Teater and Nick O'Hern after the first round of the Houston Open at Humble, Texas.

Walker matched the record set by Johnson Wagner and Adam Scott in the first round of the 2008 tournament. Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington were in a large group at four under, and Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen were at two under.

Peter Lawrie of Ireland shot an eight-under 64 and took the first-round lead at the European Tour's Trophee Hassan II at Agadir, Morocco. He was two shots ahead of John Bickerton of England.

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will meet Friday in the semifinals of the Sony Ericsson Open at Key Biscayne, Fla., in their first meeting in North America since 2005 at this event. Nadal advanced by beating Tomas Berdych, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. Federer won when Gilles Simon retired because of a stiff neck.

Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka won their semifinal matches and will meet for the women's title Saturday.

Washington Wizards rookie John Wall was suspended for one game without pay and the Miami Heat's Juwan Howard and Zydrunas Ilgauskas were fined for their actions in Wednesday night's game at Washington. Howard was docked $35,000 and Ilgauskas was fined $25,000 for their roles in a scuffle in the second quarter of Miami's 123-107 win.

Joel Przybilla

The Sparks signed Australian national team member Jenna O'Hea to a free-agent contract. The 6-foot-1 guard averaged 12.1 points and four rebounds for the Bulleen Melbourne Boomers during the 2010-11 season. The Sparks open the WNBA season June 3 against the Minnesota Lynx.

— Melissa Rohlin

USC's Katinka Hosszu, a junior from Hungary, won the Honda Sports Award as the top woman in U.S. college swimming. She was the only swimmer to win three titles at this year's NCAA championships — in the 200-meter individual medley, the 200 butterfly and the 400 individual medley.

Woodland Hills Taft guard Spencer Dinwiddie was selected the City Section boys' basketball player of the year by a panel of coaches. He led Taft to the City Division I championship and has signed with Colorado.

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