Sep 232008
 
Authors: Johnny Hart

Editor’s note — While reporting this story, Senior Reporter Johnny Hart was in disc jockey training at KCSU.

When the CSU women’s basketball team hits the court Oct. 31 for their opening game against Adams State College, KCSU-FM sports radio announcers Lance Moorman and Nick Sebesta will not be on the sideline.

Nelligan Sports Marketing, marketing rights holder for the CSU Athletic Department, informed KCSU in a Sept. 16 e-mail that they would be replaced by KIIX-AM for women’s basketball broadcasts.

“To find out that this year the opportunity to contract is not renewed is very disappointing to hear,” Moorman said. “We don’t really understand why KCSU was not given that amazing opportunity once again.”

KIXX is the sister station of KCOL-AM, both owned and operated by Clear Channel Communications, Inc.

Nelligan Sports Marking Vice President Mark Devine said in a phone interview that KCSU was replaced because of two reasons: a Title IX complaint and marketability concerns.

According to Devine, KCOL is currently the flagship station for CSU football, men’s basketball, and now women’s basketball, and the switch to KIIX will make the team more marketable in the future.

“They’ll get much more off-campus exposure,” Devine said.

Because KCSU is a non-profit radio station, advertisements are limited, which Devine said angered sponsors.

“State Farm couldn’t run their regular advertisements, which devalued their product,” Devine said. “At the end of the day, it (doesn’t) make financial sense.”

Gary Ozzello, a spokesperson for the athletic department said fiscal responsibilities had nothing to do with the decision to switch from KCSU to Clear Channel.

“We never base decisions such as this on finances,” Ozzello said in an e-mail interview. “At the end of the day, our decisions are based on what is best for our program, our coaches, and most importantly, the student-athletes.”

As for Title IX, several sources, including Devine and Ozzello, said complaints were made last year against the university for broadcasting men’s basketball on the bigger station KCOL and women’s basketball on the smaller KCSU.

“I think Title IX is a very important rule to have in college athletics, and I understand maintaining the equality between men’s and women’s programs here,” said Moorman, who also broadcast women’s basketball last year. “What we’re wondering is what changed between then and now, and why now is Title IX an issue when it wasn’t (last year).”

Ozzello said the department evaluates each sport’s broadcasts at the end of their respective season.

“Our entire athletics department is committed to meeting Title IX responsibilities and requirements,” Ozzello said. “One of those issues was providing equitable coverage for the men’s and women’s teams. It was important that we make that commitment from an equity standpoint.”

Moorman said, although not necessarily fair or right, many universities men’s sports take priority over women’s sports, but KCSU had tried to give women’s sports an equal shot in coverage.

“At KCSU we took the opportunity to embrace the women’s sports,” Moorman said. “We enjoyed helping some of the sports that aren’t in the spotlight.”

The 2007-2008 women’s basketball season was the only year KCSU had broadcast women’s, and according to Ozzello was the only year of their agreement.

“I think, from my perspective, that’s a year that they normally wouldn’t have had,” Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk said in a phone interview.

For the last six years, KCSU, which Moorman said pioneered the coverage, has aired volleyball games, but the station is concerned with the future broadcasts.

“As (the volleyball team) climbs up the ranks, it becomes more marketable to other stations,” Moorman said. “It is definitely a concern that Nelligan Sports Marketing will shop out that opportunity as well.”

Kowalczyk said the department likes working with KCSU and expects the station to continue volleyball broadcasts.

“We remain committed to having the station carry volleyball matches as they have done for many years and hopefully will continue to do in years to come,” Ozzello said. “We have always had a very solid partnership with KCSU, and we expect that will continue.”

Because Nelligan does not sell inventory into the volleyball broadcasts, Devine said that he does not see KCSU losing the contract anytime soon.

“We’ve brought volleyball into the spotlight as well and worked alongside the athletic department,” Moorman said. “I think it’s a mutual benefit between (KCSU) and (the athletic department) as far as it gives experience to students at the radio station, it gives (the athletic department) another media outlet to get their sport broadcast.”

Sports writer Johnny Hart can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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