Tag Archives: Shawnee_Mission

February 7, 1979 – On the Road to Texas Cable Show

Shawnee Mission, Kansas – Walter Byers was all smiles as he greeted us. He was clearly enthusiastic about the plans we had for NCAA programming and we dove right into more details.

Knowing we were enroute to the Annual Texas Cable Sow in San Antonio tomorrow, I just had to ask Walter again if we could say anything about our discussions. Last week’s “It might be possible,” answer was now improved to, “What’s it worth to you?”

Walter knew we had virtually no money and that without Getty, we would be out of business. this was the classic “chicken and egg” discussion: Walter wanted to confirm Getty’s investment before committing; and Getty wanted to confirm NCAA programming before committing.

After some banter about a check or wire transfer of cash he knew we didn’t have, Walter decided to make the first move. I asked, “What about a little something to read tomorrow…?” He replied, “OK, let’s see what we can put together.”

We spent some time drafting a vague release that said we “might” reach an agreement soon, but that was more than enough for us as we headed for San Antonio.

January 31, 1979 – Getting Serious with the NCAA in Shawnee Mission

Shawnee Mission, Kansas – No TV Committee this time. Walter Byers was very much in charge of the meeting attended by the NCAA’s Tom Hansen and Dennis Cryder, JB and me. That’s all. We spent virtually the entire day discussing possible scenarios for an arrangement.

Walter was extremely enthusiastic about the possibilities. He and I explored all sorts of subjects including scheduling. production, promotion, advertising, cable systems, subscriber charges and finances.

Late in the discussion I said, “The annual Texas Cable show is next week in San Antonio, Walter. It’s the third largest industry show each year. If we’re going o do something, that would be a great place to announce it. Is that possible?” I asked.

To my utter amazement and absolute delight, Walter hinted, “It might be. We have a lot of work to do, but it’s possible. Can you come back here next week on your way to the show?”

“Absolutely! I’ll even bring some stationary; then, if we agree on something, we can do a press release on the spot. Is Wednesday morning good for you?”

“Yes – we’ll see you then,” Walter concluded.

How about that!!!! It’s only Wednesday, but it’s already been a great week…Budeiser and the NCAA two days apart saying very strong and positive things..Advertising and content becoming a reality. The E. S. P. Network was gaining some very strong legs with each passing week.

October 11, 1978 – Introducing the concept to the NCAA

Shawnee Mission, Kansas – Armed with six shrink-wrapped presentations of our plan to make NCAA events the center piece of our 24/7 programming concept, I confidently walked through the door of the NCAA Headquarters. I was ushered into a conference room to meet with Tom Hansen and Dennis Cryder.

Turned out the meeting didn’t last long, but I did learn that the NCAA didn’t plunge into new ideas as fast as we did. As many of us do when we encounter some that has never been done before, Tom and Dennis were skeptical. They asked a lot of questions, but gave no indication that any of what I had presented would be endorsed by the NCAA anytime soon. As a matter of fact, Tom said that the concept” might” be presented to the membership fr approval at the National Convention in 1980 – 15 months away. Discouraging news at the moment, but at least the concept had been introduced.

Myriad meetings, phone calls and plane trips later the NCAA turned from skeptics to enthusiasts. Fortunately, the conversion didn’t take 15 months. Executive Director Walter Byers appeared at a TV Committee meeting in Kansas City on January 25, 1979 to ask some questions and start the ball rolling toward a contract that resulted in the first formal programming agreement between the NCAA and the E. S. P. Network (ESPN) on March 1, 1979.