ESPN Launches Counterattack at Bob Bowlsby

A day after launching a series of accusations at his league's biggest television partner, ESPN's president fired back.
Publish date:

The Big 12 commissioner is not having a good week.

Bob Bowlsby was the subject of a counterattack on Thursday from ESPN, which was replying to Bowlsby's accusations of "tortious inteference" and high level "deception" on the part of the network as well as Big 12 member institutions Oklahoma and Texas.

After Bowlsby sent the network a cease and desist letter, he told several media outlets Wednesday that ESPN had essentially conspired with another conference (it was later anonymously identified as the American Athletic Conference) to pick off remaining Big 12 members.

ESPN president Burke Magnus released a statement Friday defending the network.

“The accusations you have made are entirely without merit,” Magnus wrote. “Apart from a single vague allegation that ESPN has been ‘actively engaged in discussions with at least one other’ unnamed conference, which ESPN disputes, your letter consists entirely of unsubstantiated speculation and legal conclusions. To be clear, ESPN has engaged in no wrongful conduct and, thus, there is nothing to ‘cease and desist.’

“We trust this will put the matter to rest.”

Bowlsby's bad week officially started on Monday when the Big 12's two biggest properties, the Sooners and Longhorns, told him they didn't intend to extend their television rights agreements with the league, and got worse on Tuesday when they formally applied for membership in the Southeastern Conference.

SEC presidents and chancellors are expected to approve OU and Texas' membership in the SEC during an emergency meeting on Thursday afternoon.

Both OU and Texas have scheduled emergency meetings of their respective boards of regents on Friday. 

Want to join the discussion? Click here to become a member of the AllSooners message board community today!

Sign up for your premium membership to today, and get access to the entire Fan Nation premium network!

Follow AllSooners on Twitter to stay up to date on all the latest OU news.