AAC commissioner responds to 'grossly irresponsible' ESPN collusion accusations
One of the first shots Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and the Big 12 made after reports surfaced that Texas and Oklahoma left for the SEC was that ESPN was somehow involved in a collusion with realignment regarding the American Athletic Conference.
Bowlsby went as far as saying that ESPN has actively engaged the AAC to pursue “3-5” Big 12 members join the league, suggesting it would be rewarded with “future television proceeds.”
“I have absolute certainty that they (ESPN) have been involved in manipulating other conferences to go after our members,” Big 12 Commissioner Bowlsby told The Associated Press after sending a cease-and-desist letter to the network.
On Wednesday, AAC commissioner Mike Aresco corrected the record.
“Our conference has never strategically aligned or plotted with ESPN to influence conference structures. We do consult with our television and business partners, but any suggestions or statements that we colluded with ESPN with regard to the structure of any other conference is a completely unfounded and grossly irresponsible accusation.”
Aresco added that the AAC is strong and stable, and has improved its standing from eight years ago.
Aresco on Bowlsby accusations that AAC/ESPN colluded to contact Big 12 teams: “Our conference has never strategically aligned or plotted with ESPN to influence conference structures. We do consult with our television and business partners, but any suggestions or statements …
— Andrea Adelson (@aadelsonESPN) August 4, 2021
Asked by @ralphDrussoAP if the AAC has talked with any Big 12 schools, Aresco says he hasn’t reached out to anyone at the Big 12, but says he won’t discuss those things publicly.
— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) August 4, 2021