National networks to broadcast 12 Wichita State games

Grant Cohen

After another successful season that ended with a Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA 2014-15 tournament, the men’s basketball team will have an even brighter light shining on it this season.

ESPN is scheduled to produce nine nationally televised Shocker games, and CBS Sports Network will broadcast three regular season games this season. Ten other regular season games will be broadcast on ESPN’s online broadcasting network, ESPN3.  

“[Having Wichita State games] is a big deal to the networks,” said Bryan Holmgren, assistant director of Wichita State Media Relations. “It means more of the casual college basketball fans who are wanting to tune in to watch us play.”

Television exposure gives fans an entertaining contest to watch, but it also allows the NCAA tournament committee to get a more in-depth look at WSU. A lack of national exposure is one reason why the Shockers had a tough draw on where they were placed in the NCAA tournament.

The TV exposure also helps promote the university, said Deputy Athletic Director Darron Boatright.

“Anytime national outlets are here covering positive subject matter, it is a tremendous positive for the university as a whole,” he said.

Boatright said national media outlets would not be as interested if it was not for WSU’s basketball success and leadership on campus.

“Without success, without what Dr. [John] Bardo and our leadership is doing to [grow] the university, there would be no interest from these type of media outlets,” Boatright said. “Their broadcast’s activity and progressive thinking storylines hold viewer’s attention. This is what we have currently across Wichita State, and that plays out well on television.”

The Missouri Valley Conference signed a 10-year agreement with ESPN3 at the beginning of the 2015-16 athletic year. By the 2018-19 season, every WSU home event in MVC-sponsored team sports will be televised.

“The exposure and the respect our men’s basketball team has earned through the years is the main reason we’ve been recognized by television networks,” said Doug Elgin, commissioner of the MVC. “There is no question in my mind that our success in growing our television partnerships and exposure has been a big key to our ability to remain competitive and relevant as a league.”

Along with the new deal, the MVC signed a multi-year agreement with CBS Sports Network, which will broadcast eight regular season men’s basketball games, the Arch Madness semifinals and continue its 10-year broadcasting streak of producing the championship game on CBS.

Elgin said the television exposure helps WSU and the MVC to gain national exposure.

“The addition of CBS Sports Network as a second national network partner is huge for our tournament exposure and really elevates the semifinals,” Elgin said. “And there is no question that it is a thrill to have CBS extend its involvement airing our championship game.”

Wichita State’s non-exhibition home opener against Charleston Southern on Friday will be broadcasted on ESPN3. Their first nationally televised appearance will be on Thanksgiving when ESPN2 will cover the first round of the AdvoCare Invitational in Orlando, Florida, against the University of Southern California.