On Thursday night, in front of a small gathering of communication students, Athletic Director Michael Cross announced Bradley University as a frontrunner in a potential partnership between the Missouri Valley Conference and ESPN.
The deal, which has been in the works for a year, is still incomplete but would feature Bradley athletics streamed on the ESPN family networks, starting with ESPN 3.
“Bradley and the Missouri Valley Conference have been in discussion for a while with ESPN,” Cross said. “This is going to be a Missouri Valley Conference based package, [but] it is not fully formed yet.”
Cross also said the process was sparked by the MVC, with assistance from ESPN, in putting the deal together, but the meeting last night was strictly regarding Bradley athletics.
“This is a Missouri Valley Conference-driven process,” Cross said. “The Valley and ESPN, in conjunction with all the schools, have put this all together. We’ve framed it as a Bradley conversation.”
The package will also feature universities other than Bradley, all of which are MVC schools. Associate Athletic Director of Communications Bobby Parker said until the deal is released, the school’s identities could not be given.
“The goal is there’s four of us that have been identified, and [Bradley] is one of the four,” Parker said. “We’re kind of the guinea pigs, but a lot of that has to do with what we’re already doing.”
Once the deal is announced, it is set to primarily focus on Bradley men’s and women’s basketball but will eventually expand to include all Bradley athletic teams.
Cross also pointed to Braves Vision, a student video and web streaming production team, as a major starting point for the potential deal.
Cross said the plan is to let Braves Vision develop into what will be the production for ESPN.
“The ideal scenario is that Braves Vision will really disappear, [and] this will be done entirely on ESPN all the time,” Cross said. “Anything we used to do on our own webpage, on our own website, is going to be done now in the ESPN family of networks.”
However, before Braves Vision completely dissolves into an ESPN production, the Athletic Department stressed a need for student support to begin the transition to ESPN.
Although the meeting consisted of mostly sports communication and television arts majors, Cross said the Athletic Department would welcome any student that applies.
“We’d love to have engineers, people from the business side, from the liberal arts…any major [or] discipline can contribute to what we are doing,” Cross said.
With ESPN family networks working as a major distributor of Bradley athletics to the public, Parker said there are unlimited opportunities for students to get involved.
“As this gets rolling, there’s a lot of possibilities,” Parker said. “It’s really hard to try and think of a cap. We think this will be an unbelievable opportunity.”
To express interest in working with Bradley athletics, students should email their name, major, resume and the reason for their interest to Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org.