Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.
ESPN probably would not have bought both NCAAs and Olympics
ESPN exec John Skipper had some interesting things to say Tuesday when I asked him whether the limit the network placed on its NCAA Tournament bid was related to saving money for a run at the 2014 and '16 Olympics - as has been widely assumed.
On one hand, he said it was not. On the other, he acknowledged the network probably would not have bought both properties. Logically, that means if ESPN had beaten out CBS/Turner for the NCAAs, it would have dropped out of the Olympics race.
Here is what he said:
"Look, we were disappointed. We thought we could have done a great job on the men’s basketball tournament. We love college basketball. We've got it from the start all the way through the conference championships. We’re doing something just under 1,200 games a year. We wanted it.
"It’s just a financial matter. At the end of the day, we did not feel that we were willing to bid more than we bid. It was made on that property alone."
But . . .
"I have to be straight because I told someone else this today, and I want to be consistent. We probably would not have bought both. But we’re not smart enough to say, 'Oh, we’ll figure out how to get this and save enough money.' We tried the best we could to get that. It’s a great event. I congratulate my friends at CBS and Turner.
"I did call them to wish them good luck spending all that money and we’ll move on now and work on the Olympics and some other things."
Has he heard anything lately on the IOC's timing for the bidding process?
"We have not. We’ve been in touch with them. There was a recent meeting with some IOC guys just for them to update us on some of the sponsorship process. But they did not tell us the exact timing of it. I don’t think they’ve decided yet."