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College Football Playoff has not yet agreed to new TV contract, according to commissioner on CFP Management Committee

February 18th, 2024

What will the College Football Playoff look like after 2025? There’s still much to be decided. (David Buono/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The College Football Playoff has not agreed to a new television contract, according to at least one member of the CFP Management Committee.

In a memo sent to his league administrators, MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher described reports of the CFP agreeing to or having concluded an extension of the media rights deal with ESPN as “incorrect.” In fact, Steinbrecher, the longest-serving member of the 11-person management committee who often chairs the committee’s meetings, told administrators that commissioners and their corresponding presidents on the CFP Board of Managers have not reviewed a draft of a potential new deal.

Yahoo Sports obtained a copy of the email through an open records request.

“Several news outlets are reporting that a new six-year television deal has been concluded for the College Football Playoff,” Steinbrecher wrote in an email dated Feb. 13. “Be advised, these reports are incorrect. Neither the Management Committee (commissioners) nor the Board of Managers (presidents) have reviewed a draft agreement nor has any vote been taken.”

In typical protocol, the CFP Management Committee, the 11 conference commissioners and Notre Dame’s athletic director, would make a recommendation to the Board of Managers for the adoption of any CFP decisions. The Board of Managers is the highest ranking governance body of the CFP.

While the CFP continues to work toward an extension with ESPN, no deal can be formally agreed to or signed because of a litany of unresolved matters related to the long-term structure of the playoff, multiple commissioners tell Yahoo Sports.

Six weeks ago, ESPN itself reported that the network was in the midst of negotiations with the CFP to remain its exclusive rights-holder, with the parties negotiating a six-year extension through 2031 worth about $1.3 billion annually. Earlier this week, The Athletic, reporting the same terms as ESPN’s original report, published a story that the CFP and ESPN had “agreed” to the deal, noting the unfinished issues lingering around the future structure of the playoff.

This college football offseason threatens to be the most impactful in the industry’s history.

While the NCAA and power leagues explore a new athlete compensation model, postseason events such as the CFP and NCAA tournament are likely in for dramatic change as part of a complete “audit” and “reset” of college sports, as Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark described to Yahoo Sports.

The CFP is at the center of change with a somewhat urgent timeline.

The television contract with ESPN binds the 10 FBS leagues together for the postseason football championship. There is no binding contract beyond the final year of the deal in 2025, a precarious position made more unsteady given recent comments from SEC and Big Ten leaders.

In an interview with Yahoo Sports earlier this month, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti expressed doubts for the first time publicly in their commitment to the future of the CFP if leaders can’t “get right” a litany of issues. Their comments came on the heels of an announcement Feb. 2 that the leagues were forming a joint advisory board to study the future of college athletics.

Asked if he was committed to the CFP beyond 2025, Sankey said, “Yep, but we’ve got a lot to get right. The commitment is we want to see this get right.”

CFP commissioners meet again on Wednesday in Dallas to further examine some of these unresolved, pressing issues, most notably a new revenue-distribution model, voting structure and, possibly even, format.

With their expansion of some of college football’s biggest brands, the SEC and Big Ten are expected to seek a bigger cut of the revenue pie as well as a governance structure that grants them more autonomy. The format, too, is still somewhat unresolved. At least a portion of that could change this week.

On Tuesday, the CFP Board of Managers is expected to vote on a move from a 6+6 format to a 5+7 format in the 12-team expanded playoff format for the next two years — a decision that was delayed last month because of pushback from the Pac-12. The decision needs unanimity from the 11-member Board of Managers of which the Pac-12 remains a full voting member.

Washington State president Kirk Schulz, the conference’s representative on the board, delayed the 5+7 while WSU and Oregon State officials organized a proposal that he expects to present to board presenters Tuesday. The Pac-12 is seeking to be considered a power league, with P5 voting rights and revenue distribution, for years beyond 2025.

In an interview last week, Schulz acknowledged that the 5+7 change benefits the Pac-12’s remaining schools as it increases at-large spots. The league is not eligible for an automatic berth in the playoff because it falls short of the presentership minimum needed for such (eight schools) — a change that commissioners adopted in November.

This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games »
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