News

ESPN to Air `Madness' Play-In Game

2/22/2002 2:40 AM Eastern

ESPN will air the opening-round game of the NCAA Division 1 men's basketball
tournament one year early.

Through a multifaceted agreement between the NCAA, ESPN and CBS, the cable
network will televise 'March Madness' game action for the first time since 1990,
when it airs the so-called play-in contest, pitting the tourney's 64th-
and 65th-seeded teams, March 12 at 7 p.m. from the University
of Dayton.

The survivor's reward: the daunting task of playing against a No. 1 seed
later that week.

In 2001, this game was produced by CBS and aired on sister network TNN: The
National Network.

ESPN had televised NCAA Division 1 tournament games from 1980 through
1990.

Last July, ESPN and the NCAA finalized an 11-year agreement beginning with
the 2002-03 school year for 21 NCAA men's and women's championship events,
including the entire women's Division 1 tourney, as well as the opening-round
men's game.

An ESPN spokesman said the timetable for this game was moved up through 'a
cooperative effort between the NCAA and its two rights holders.' Asked if ESPN
had paid a rights fee, the spokesman would not discuss specifics.

In addition to the opening-round game, ESPN will also produce Final Four
Friday
, a live, four-hour show Friday, March 29, during the practice
sessions at the 2002 NCAA Men's Final Four in Atlanta.

Lastly, ESPN will air its men's basketball tournament-selection special at 7
p.m. Sunday, March 10, after CBS' NCAA selection show
concludes.

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