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April 5, 2007

ESPN Regional Television, a subsidiary of ESPN, Inc., in conjunction with the Big East Conference and the Southeastern Conference (SEC) announced today the creation of the Big East/SEC Invitational, an annual two-night men’s college basketball event featuring four games from two sites to be televised live on ESPN and ESPN2 on December 5-6, 2007.

Four different teams from each conference will be selected to participate for the next four years and the format will feature doubleheaders played at two off-campus sites.

In 2007, West Virginia will take on Auburn at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 and Georgetown will compete against Alabama at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN – both from the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center in Birmingham, Ala., December 5. The following night, South Carolina will play Providence at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 and LSU will take on Villanova at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pa.

“This Invitational will showcase two of the premier conferences in college basketball,” said Pete Derzis, senior vice president and general manager of ESPN Regional Television. “Both conferences compete at the highest level, as evidenced by their recent appearances in the Final Four, and we are pleased to feature them on two consecutive nights on our networks.”

Teams invited to participate in the Big East/SEC Invitational are chosen by ESPN in consultation with the conferences and are based on geographic and competitive criteria.

The Big East and SEC have combined to produce four of the last five NCAA Men’s Basketball Champions (Florida – 2007 and 2006, UConn – 2004, Syracuse – 2003) and seven of the last 12 national champions (UConn – 1999, Kentucky – 1998 and 1996).

In 2007, the SEC qualified five teams for the NCAA Tournament with Florida advancing to, and ultimately winning, the Final Four and Tennessee and Vanderbilt finishing in the Sweet 16.

“The Big East/SEC Invitational provides a great opportunity to showcase two of the nation’s premier basketball conferences to a national television audience,” said Mike Slive, SEC Commissioner. “This event increases exposure for both conferences early in the season by creating exciting match-ups that will appeal to college basketball fans across the country.”

The Big East had six teams in the NCAA tournament with Georgetown qualifying for the Final Four and Pittsburgh advancing to the Sweet 16. Additionally, West Virginia was the 2007 NIT champion. In 2006 The Big East sent eight teams to the NCAA Tournament, setting an NCAA record.

“This annual series is going to offer college basketball fans some high-quality December competition in first-class venues,” said Big East Commissioner Michael Tranghese. “We’re excited to be working with the SEC. Our schools have some great relationships with SEC schools in basketball and football and this series will only strengthen those ties.”

ESPN Regional Television will be responsible for the Big East/SEC Invitational’s organization, operation, sponsorship, marketing efforts and more. ESPN Regional Television will work with local groups and anchor institutions to provide marketing, management and game day operations support. Additional details, including sponsorship, are to be finalized.

The Big East/SEC Invitational will join ESPN Regional Television’s extensive lineup of specialty college basketball tournaments. Last year, ESPN and ESPN2 combined to present coverage of four tournament series, highlighted by the Dick’s Sporting Goods Spartan Clash, the Old Spice Classic, the O’Reilly Auto Parts All-College Classic and the Papé Jam.

Ticket information and pricing will be available through either the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center or the Wachovia Center in early July.


December 5 (Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center; Birmingham, Ala.)
7:00 p.m. West Virginia vs. Auburn – ESPN2
9:30 p.m. Georgetown vs. Alabama – ESPN

December 6 (The Wachovia Center; Philadelphia, Pa.)
7:00 p.m. South Carolina vs. Providence – ESPN2
9:30 p.m. LSU vs. Villanova – ESPN