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Compher: Nothing more important than TV deal

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East Carolina University's athletic director Jeff Compher during a 2014 interview.

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BY NATHAN SUMMERS
The Daily Reflector

Friday, August 4, 2017

East Carolina’s athletics chief will be an integral part of brokering the biggest deal in the young life of the American Athletic Conference, and he sees it as just that.

Named recently to the league’s committee that will oversee the negotiations for a new football television contract, Jeff Compher knows the deal set to be hammered out in 2019 will define the league’s future and its hope to someday be included in the current Power Five framework.

As the American is once again touting its Power Six or P6 campaign this season, ECU’s AD is ready for the challenge of delivering a new deal for the league, which currently has a contract with ESPN/ABC and CBS Sports Network for broadcasting games.

“I can’t tell you how essential this is to our ability to remain at that Power Six level,” Compher said in an interview earlier this week. “There’s nothing more important than that. If you were to ask every AD in our conference they would say the same thing. If you were to ask every administrative officer in the league they would say the same thing. We are of one focus, and that is it.”

At ECU, a major stadium renovation is set to begin as soon as the final whistle of the coming season blows. Part of the $55 million Southside Renovation Project at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium will be priming the Pirates’ football stronghold for TV games.

In addition to a completely new press box, there will also be an enhanced TV broadcasting area, a departure from the current setup which Compher admits forces the university to “shoehorn people in” for TV games.

“I’m looking forward to learning more about how that process is going to work and how we value ourselves and how other entities value us from a media perspective and a marketability perspective as we look at the next few years, and whether it’s ESPN or another partner, how we work through that,” Compher said of the coming TV contract negotiation, largely echoing the sentiments of AAC commissioner Mike Aresco at the recent league football media days.

There, Aresco continued to be a loud and clear voice in wanting a shift in college football that would allow the American to attain membership with the biggest leagues and thus have a bigger role in the College Football Playoff and greater TV revenue.

“We need and want a TV and media deal that recognizes what we’ve achieved and affords us the resources to continue to build a conference and continue to be successful with the other Power Six conferences,” Aresco said. “As long as we continue to challenge ourselves and continue to play top Power Six opponents, we’ll continue to provide great value to our media partners.”

Contact Nathan Summers at nsummers@reflector.com, 252-329-9595 and follow @NateSumm99 on Twitter.

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Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

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