Commentary: Broadcast Partnership Probably Doomed From Beginning


by - Correspondent -
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Throughout the annals of history there have been many great partnerships.


Bugs and Daffy. Ben and Jerry.


Even McCartney found a way to bury the hatchet with Lennon before Mark David
Chapman's own Revolver solo ended the partnership forever.


However, when remnants of our society are discovered light years from now,
nowhere in the rubble will a stone tablet be found extolling the virtues of
Clemson University's contract with Collegiate Sports Partners, Ltd. In fact,
were the principals in CU's athletic department polled today, privately they
might lobby for a guest shot on the game show Change of Heart.


But alas, there will be no such opportunity, as much as Clemson might like to
flip a card and dump what has become a burdensome mistress.


You know by now that Collegiate Sports Partners, Ltd. defaulted on $750,000
payment due to the universityJune 30. You also know the two week grace
period ends Monday. It appears, today at least, that the likelihood of CSP
producing three-quarters of a million dollars at the drop of a hat is
minimal, if not impossible.


Tim Match, Clemson's associate athletic director in charge of Titanic
broadcast deals, was curt - but polite - when reached at his office Thursday.
As the university's designated spokesman on this issue, Match tried to come
off as befuddled as the next guy when asked for an update.


"I don't know," he said when quizzed as to whether this sorry race would go
right to the finish line Monday. "You'll have to ask them."


"Them," of course, is CSP. Upon reaching company spokesman Herb Vincent
Thursday afternoon, it was soon clear that Clemson isn't the only entity well
versed in tap-dancing.


"There's nothing new to report today," Vincent said. "Clemson's working
closely with us on this matter, just like they have on everything all year.
They've worked real well with us, and we hope to get past this and get on
with the next four years of our contract."


Asked if he thought the payment would be made Monday, thereby ending all the
fuss, Vincent sighed and said, "That's the plan."


Plan.


A simple little word which has become a four-letter dagger in Clemson's back.
Oddly enough, this particular university is one of the few institutions in
the country with arms long enough to plant the dagger themselves.


Because had there been any planning, any true foresight, the status of the
Clemson Network wouldn't be an issue today. But a good number of people, both
inside and outside Clemson University, have been suspicious of this deal from
the very beginning.


They ask questions, such as:


- Is it an ethics violation when a member of the university committee which
voted to accept CSP's bid immediately resigns from the school once the offer
is accepted and takes a job with the network?


- Shouldn't a red flag have been waved when it was discovered that CSP boss
Kirk Wood is the son-in-law of Clemson's Hootie Ingram?


- Why didn't Clemson check CSP's background? Had they done so, the school
might have discovered the same information which prompted one major college
to back out of a deal with the group.


But give CSP some credit. It knew who to pay with what little money it had
available.


Clemson's coaches all got their slice of the pie, which was a prudent move on
CSP's part. Think about it. If Tommy Bowden doesn't get his $400,000-plus
guaranteed broadcast revenue, how long is he going to keep quiet about it?


No, Bowden and the others got what was coming to them.


Now, it appears CSP may get what it has coming. Not only does it owe the
university $750,000, but the contracted freelancers who made the network run
also are owed money. Nine of them are a combined total of $17,000 behind in
collecting wages, and that's just the ones who have been confirmed.


Totals like $1,600 or $4,400 may not mean much to athletic directors or big
businessmen, but to the layman trying to feed a family it can be a fortune.
And those totals haven't been paid in over three months.


Again, in fairness, we must wait until Monday before we pass final judgment
on either side. CSP could come through with everyone's money, and the next
four years could be profitable for all parties involved.


But until Monday comes and goes, we won't know for sure what the future holds
for these erstwhile lovers, thrown together so rapidly and haphazardly in
Jan., 2000. Whatever that future may be, it appears the love affair of the
millennium has been interrupted.


The groom's promise of security and fidelity has been exposed.


The bride, left holding the broadcast bouquet, tries to pretend none of it
ever happened.


Dan Scott is the host of SportsTalk (10AM-Noon) on 104.9 FM in Upstate SC and
Managing Editor of Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Daily Messenger

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