Celebrating its 110th season, the Missouri Valley Conference will have an exclusive 104-event package on ESPN networks during the 2016-17 academic year, commissioner Doug Elgin announced today.
The Valley, which enters the third year of a 10-year agreement with ESPN, will clear 41 men’s basketball telecasts on ESPN platforms -- ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, and ESPN3.
Another 63 MVC events -- regular-season baseball and women’s basketball plus postseason championships for women’s and men’s soccer, volleyball, indoor and outdoor track and field, women’s basketball, softball, and baseball -- are featured in the package this year.
An additional 450 live events by Conference institutions will be delivered exclusively by The Valley on ESPN3 -- the league’s co-branded digital network with ESPN.
“Through multi-layered platforms, ESPN provides us with an invaluable national promotional vehicle in an ever-evolving video environment,” Elgin said.
“Academic commitment from all corners of our campuses has fueled the development and implementation of The Valley on ESPN3,” he said. “Between linear delivery (ESPN-ESPN2-ESPNU) and digital endeavors (ESPN3), our fans consume our product across multiple devices at any time and at any location.”
The ESPN men’s basketball package begins with Wichita State playing host to Tulsa on November 16 in the first of four league-produced exclusive non-conference games on ESPN3.
San Diego State at Loyola (December 3), Butler at Indiana State (December 7) and Oklahoma State visiting Wichita State at INTRUST Bank Arena (December 17) complete the non-MVC contests for ESPN3.
The game at Loyola is one of nine match-ups on December 3 which are part of the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge.
This will be the second year of a four-year agreement between the leagues, with Evansville, Indiana State, Southern Illinois, and Wichita State securing wins during the 2015 event.
The Missouri Valley Conference also has two additional non-conference contests on ESPN platforms -- Wichita State versus Oklahoma in Oklahoma City (ESPN2) on December 10, and Northern Iowa at North Carolina (ESPN2) on December 21.
Four MVC schools will compete in ESPN Events-branded multi-team tournaments - Northern Iowa in the Tire Pros Puerto Rico Tip-Off, which has been relocated to Orlando, Florida, Illinois State in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, Indiana State in the AdvoCare Invitational, and Wichita State in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Each league school will participate in three games with every contest being delivered on an ESPN platform -- ESPN2, ESPNU, or ESPN3.
“Continued participation in ESPN-branded tournaments is critical for The Valley,” said Elgin. “These events are vital when building at-large resumes for NCAA Tournament consideration and having the opportunity to play these teams on a neutral floor in front of a national audience is huge exposure.”
In terms of league regular-season men’s basketball shows, The Valley has two contests on ESPN2 -- Wichita State at Illinois State (January 14) and Illinois State at Wichita State (February 4) -- and another where ESPN will utilize the netflex process (waiting until 7-10 days out from competition) to determine whether the game -- UNI at Wichita State (February 18) -- is shown on ESPN or ESPN2.
For the final Conference’s exposure on Saturday, Feb. 25, ESPN will utilize both the netflex and Wildcard (picking one of five games) selection processes to determine which match-up is shown on ESPN or ESPN2.
The Valley’s regular-season men’s basketball package on ESPNU will feature one Saturday and five Sundays. The Sundays will also use the ESPN netflex selection process (one game appearing on The Valley on ESPN3 and the other on ESPNU).
“The Wildcard selection process allows ESPN to position the game with the most impact to cap our season,” said Jack R. Watkins, associate commissioner. “As a result of this process, Wichita State completed its three-peat of MVC regular-season championships on ESPN2 during the 2016 finale telecast.”
“This year, we will continue to utilize the netflex process for our Sunday ESPNU telecasts, and for the second straight year, we have pre-determined consistent times on both networks,” Watkins added. “That helps our men’s and women’s basketball programs in a myriad of ways, including home game management and travel for the visiting teams.”
The remaining two ESPNU telecasts will be Valley regular-season baseball contests which have yet to be determined.
The conference will distribute league-produced, nine-week men’s basketball (Wednesday, Thursday or Saturday) and women’s basketball (Fridays or Sundays) packages on ESPN3 -- ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network streamed line on WatchESPN, accessible on computers, smartphones, tablets and connected devices to fans who receive their video subscription from an affiliated provider.
The men’s basketball package starts on Thursday, December 29, with Bradley playing host to Southern Illinois.
The opening round on March 2 and all four quarterfinal games on March 3 from the 2017 State Farm MVC Men’s Basketball Tournament in St. Louis will also be shown on ESPN3 outside the league’s five-state footprint of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri.
The women’s league slate on Fridays begins December 30, when Indiana State visits Evansville.
The final two women’s basketball airings will utilize the Wildcard selection process to determine which games will be distributed on February 17 and February 24, with the selected contests announced on February 3 and February 10, respectively.
The entire women’s basketball tournament will be shown on ESPN3, with coverage beginning on Thursday, March 9, with two opening round contests, four quarterfinal telecasts on Friday, March 10, two semifinal games on Saturday, March 11, and the title contest on Sunday, March 12.
“Our women’s basketball coverage on The Valley on ESPN3 -- both league and institutional productions -- continues to expand,” Watkins said. “There is no question that our women’s basketball experienced the greatest growth of regular-season exposure with more than 130 live events distributed via The Valley on ESPN3 in 2015-16.”
“At the same time, we were able to feature our first women’s basketball tournament from the iWireless Center in Moline, Illinois,” Watkins said. ”There are great things occurring for our women’s basketball and its postseason championship, and this increased exposure is a direct result of that renewed energy.”
The Valley will also air its postseason championships for women’s and men’s soccer, volleyball, indoor and outdoor track and field, softball and baseball in their entirety on ESPN3.
“The 2015-16 academic year was a tremendous one for our Conference, and The Valley on ESPN3 was the perfect platform to share numerous league stories,” Watkins said.
“We conducted an epic volleyball tournament in 2015, where Wichita State rallied from 2-0 set deficits in semifinal and title matches to take the tournament. In fact, all four semifinalists -- Missouri State, UNI, Southern Illinois and Wichita State -- were showcased on The Valley on ESPN3 and subsequently received bids to the NCAA Tournament,” he added.
“After distributing our indoor track and field championship on The Valley on ESPN3 in 2015 and the feedback we received, the addition of the outdoor championship in 2016 was a no-brainer,” said Watkins. “We shared stories, including those of DeAnna Price and Gwen Berry of Southern Illinois who qualified for Team USA in the hammer throw and represented our country in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.”
“Thanks to the endorsement from ESPN and the support from the MVC Presidents Council, we have the ability to reach a national audience every day via The Valley on ESPN3,” he concluded.
Postseason coverage starts with the 2016 MVC Women’s Soccer Championship at Adelaide Street Field in Normal, Illinois, on Friday, November 4 (semifinals) and Sunday, November 6 (title match).
The 2016 MVC Men’s Soccer Championship at Allison Stadium South in Springfield, Missouri, will be contested on Tuesday, November 8 (opening round), Wednesday, November 9 (quarterfinals), Friday, November 11 (semifinals), and Sunday, November 13 (title match).
For the fifth-straight year, The Valley will deliver the MVC Volleyball Championship on ESPN3, and in 2016, all five matches will be shown from McLeod Center in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Thursday, November 24 (quarterfinals), Friday, November 25 (semifinals) and Saturday, November 26 (title match).
For the third-straight year, the Conference will televise competition from the 2017 MVC Indoor Track and Field Championship at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Saturday-Sunday, February 25-26.
In the spring, The Valley will air the 2017 MVC Softball Tournament from Marian Kneer Stadium at Normal, Illinois, on Thursday-Saturday, May 11-13.
For the second time in league history, The Valley will televise competition from the 2017 MVC Outdoor Track and Field Championship at Allison Stadium South in Springfield, Missouri, on Friday-Sunday, May 12-14.
The league will conclude its 2016-17 schedule on ESPN3 on Wednesday-Saturday, May 24-27, from the 2017 MVC Baseball Championship at Hammons Field in Springfield, Missouri. It will mark the sixth consecutive year that games from the tournament have been shown on ESPN3, beginning with the 2012 event from Hammons Field.
“The benefits are vast having our championships shown on The Valley on ESPN3,” Watkins said. “Our families and fans plus NCAA Division I sport committee members can catch live action or watch our replays of our most important competitions at a critical stage of the season.”
“Whether it’s viewership or recruitment, we value each and every opportunity to showcase our student-athletes, coaches and facilities,” he concluded.
The conference also plans to televise the 2016 MVC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tipoff in St. Louis on Tuesday, October 25, and its 2017 MVC Women’s Basketball Tournament Preview Show from the iWireless Center in Moline, Illinois, on Thursday, March 9.