ESPN ‘taking advantage’ of SWAC football in broadcast partnership


ESPN, Deion Sanders, SWAC

Since the SWAC announced its plans to move forward with a shortened spring football schedule amid a pandemic, teams within the conference have struggled to complete their schedules.

With the recent announcement of Grambling State pausing its football operations due to positive COVID-19 cases within the program and canceling its weekend matchup against Alabama A&M, that left Saturday’s matchup between Alabama State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff as the only SWAC football game on the slate scheduled to be streamed on ESPN3.

For that reason, Mike Prince, host of “The Mike Prince Show,” lambasted ESPN for not moving the game up to one of its premier broadcast platforms, ESPN, ESPN 2, or ESPNU.

“Alabama State has just come off of a huge win over Jackson State. The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff has just come off of something they have not established since 2012, the year that they won the SWAC championship … the last time it was someone in the mix other than Southern or Grambling from the Western Division of the Southwestern Athletic Conference,” Prince said. “We’ve allowed ESPN to come in and continue to take advantage of us as a conference by not taking this game and bumping it to the ESPNU or the ESPN2 platform to maximize exposure for this very important and intriguing game … the only game on the ticket of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.”

The only SWAC football games that have been televised on the ESPN broadcast platforms so far are games that involved Jackson State, with Deion Sanders featured as the team’s head coach. All of JSU’s remaining games are scheduled to air on either ESPN or ESPNU.

Acknowledging that Sanders’ presence on the J-State campus is a boast for the football program and the university at large, Prince expressed that conference stakeholders have enabled ESPN and Sanders to “literally dictate the flow” of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Also read: ‘All eyes will be on us:’ SWAC coaches relish increased ESPN television exposure

“And to those who say, ‘Well, with Deion coming to Jackson State, it’s going to bring light towards the Southwestern Athletic Conference.’ What light has it brought that wasn’t already there?” he stated.

Prince also addressed another issue regarding previous comments Sanders made about his expectations for Jackson State compared to the expectations of other HBCUs.

“When I hear comments that our expectations are different than those with HBCU expectations, I really would like an explanation on what expectations that you bring that were not being brought by others who are already in the HBCU fold,” Prince said. “How do we as an HBCU product, regardless of your institution, not take an exception to that comment? How is it that we continuously allow people to manipulate and abuse us, and we think it’s OK?”

The episode concluded with Prince making an analogy of the ESPN, Sanders, and SWAC brands’ relationship to domestic abuse.

“Here’s a sad reality. We have three brands involved, and two of them are on the same page; that’s the ESPN brand and the Deion Sanders brand. The brand that is being left behind is that of the Southwestern Athletic Conference/HBCU brand,” said Prince. “The other two brands are going to get what they can get out of it while they can get it, and they’ll move on to the next chapter in their lives. But those who remain will have to be the ones to pick up the pieces long after the fact that the others have gone down the road.”

Listen to the entire episode below.



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