UT TV Network

Today we announced the creation of a 24-hour television network dedicated to covering intercollegiate athletics, music, cultural arts, and academics at The University of Texas at Austin.

At UT Austin, we want to define what it means to be the public research university of the 21st century.  One of the challenges we face is creating new forms of revenue to support our mission.  The UT network is one example of this effort.

The new network is a partnership among UT Austin, ESPN, and IMG College, our multimedia rights marketing partner.   We have signed a contract that will guarantee $300 million over 20 years to UT Austin and IMG College.

The UT network will not only showcase all our athletics programs-it will give the world an unparalleled view of our academic enterprise and the creative and innovative people within it. The network will produce television that shares our programs in the performing arts, the humanities, the sciences, and other disciplines.

During the first five years of the contract, UT will receive about $10 million per year. For these five years, half of that income will be devoted to academic and faculty support.  The remainder will support UT Athletics.  We will determine at a later date how the funds will be used beyond the initial five-year period.

We plan to use the academic half of the royalty payments to support faculty excellence.  To start this process, today I am announcing that we will create two $1-million endowed faculty chairs-one in the Philosophy Department and the other in the Physics Department.  In this way, the UT network will generate millions of dollars for academic and faculty support, and it will strengthen the ability of UT Athletics to be self-sustaining.

This network would not have been possible without the contributions of many people, especially without our strong and enduring bond with our friends, alumni, and fans.  The UT family has no equal-and it’s a family that extends to almost every corner of the world.  It is this loyalty and support that will make the network a success.

Our Men’s and Women’s Athletics Directors, DeLoss Dodds and Chris Plonsky, were essential to the creation of the network, and I thank them.  This network is the result of a vision DeLoss Dodds has pursued for many years. Creating this network is the culmination of that vision and is emblematic of the enormous contributions he has made to our University.

There is no model for the kind of network we’re creating, so we have our work cut out for us before the launch date in September 2011.  I hope you will enjoy this opportunity to view a much wider assortment of programming from UT Austin.  For more information about access to the UT network, contact your local television provider.

Hook ’em Horns!

Bill's Signature

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  1. Wow $300 million over 20 years is amazing. I just wish people would focus on the positives instead of always looking for something negative. It’s $300 million people!

    • Dan,

      Yes, indeed, $300 million over 20 years (equal to $15 million per year) is great.

      My problem is that once again, a football program already bloated to staggering proportions gets at least half of the money.

  2. [Sigh.]

    Although this network purports to highlight “music, cultural arts, and academics at The University of Texas at Austin” in addition to athletics, why am I not surprised that 50% of the revenue derived from it is already earmarked for intercollegiate athletics?

    Is that why this arrangement occurred only with ESPN, as opposed to PBS, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel or a smaller network not primarily focused on sports?

    In addition to explaining how Physics and Philosophy were selected for endowed chairs, can you supply more details on how the 50% cut for athletics will be apportioned? Specifically: How much of that will go for the football program and related expenses such as upgrades and maintenance on that stadium?

    Are the figures yet available for the 2010 sales of Longhorn-licensed merchandise (which, we learned not long after Tower Talk began, all goes to the football program)? Did the football program make enough money in 2010 to bestow any “gifts” on academics?

    • The point you raise is valid. Too much is going towards sports. Half of the “predicted” 10 million a year is going to sports. And since Mac Brown make 5 million a year than we pretty much know where that money is going to. And even thou you might not have anything good to say about UT athletics, some people realize that it is the only thing that will keep this network going!!! This network in itself is very experimental. The only reason people will watch this channel is BECAUSE OF SPORTS!!! But go ahead and complain like everyone else instead of actually doing anything that will benefit the school, [edited by Moderator for inappropriate content]. I am a student and love UT and hate to see people like you talk down on the sports program when it is the only thing keeping the university alive!

      • Keaton:
        If you agree that Argus raises a valid point then why do you hate him for expressing it. Argus does have a right to express his views, no? AK

      • Keaton,

        What you say about athletics “keeping the university alive” is in lock step with the official line. A lot of people buy that. But then, a lot of people think Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11, and a lot of people think we found WMD in Iraq. Some people think George W. Bush was legally elected in 2000; still others believe O.J. Simpson has never committed a crime.

        But I digress. . . .

        If you go into the archives of Tower Talk (way back to just over a year ago, in December of 2009, when Mac Brown got a 67% base-salary raise because he had won the Nobel Prize in football), you will find that in fact, in most years academics has subsidized the football program–not the other way around.

        The books can be cooked to make it appear otherwise. Ask a mathematician what 2 + 2 equals, and the answer is 4. Ask an accountant, and the answer is “What do you want it to be?”

        For instance, $700,000 spent on re-locating trees during the last major expansion of the Regents’ stadium (totaling a cool $175 million, not including ripping out one of the best natural-turf fields to replace it with that long-bladed fake grass like the Cowboys have in their stadium) was designated as an “academic initiative.” 100% of the profits from Longhorn-licensed merchandise (keychains, hats, toilet seats, those nifty little chrome emblems people put on the back of their cars next to the fish) goes to the football program, and if they rake in a certain amount of profit on that (like the $87 million raked in one year), football “gives” a million (1.15%) of the proceeds to academics. In other words, if Cinderella’s step-sisters bring home doggie bags from their dates, Cinderella may taste the leftovers.

        Not only that: Every time a professor and his or her research team wins a competitive grant, the money is transferred to a University account, and UT takes a hefty cut in overhead. Does the football program pay overhead for their weekend gladiatorial games when they routinely oust people from parking spaces for which they have paid, or tie up a good part of the UTPD and APD corralling hordes of drunks, or see fans leave a mountain of trash from tailgate parties?

        Of course not!

        Do you see a pattern? No matter what is happening elsewhere at UT, no matter who might lose their job or get bypasssed for a raise, the Regents’ sacrosanct toy is *always* in the gravy.

        So is it surprising that I’m less than jazzed about a fundraising gig where half the money right off the top goes to football?

        • Nick Voinis says:


          As a UT auxiliary unit, UT Athletics pays its own direct costs such as salaries, fringe benefits, utilities, and construction. The exception is the cost of certain central administrative services such as accounting, systems, and payroll, which are charged to every auxiliary unit in the form of a 3.25 percent administrative fee on specified expenditures. For 2009-10, UT Athletics paid the University $2.3 million for these services.

          UT Athletics pays approximately $13 million per year for other University-provided goods and services, including utilities, student-athlete housing and tuition, as well as parking and transportation, UT Police, and EMS services for campus events.

          Trademark and licensing revenues, net of external management fees, in 2009-10 were $9.2 million. More than $13.1 million in operating and trademark-licensing revenue was committed by UT Athletics since 2006-07 to UT central administration to fund various academic initiatives, such as the First-Year Signature Courses designed to enrich the undergraduate experience. As previously announced, UT Athletics will also transfer $5 million from reserve funds to help with the state-mandated budget reduction in fiscal year 2010-11.

          Nick Voinis
          Senior Associate Athletics Director
          UT Intercollegiate Athletics

  3. Brandy Whitten says:

    I’m delighted to learn that a significant portion of the income will go toward academics and would like to learn more. Could you describe how the departments were chosen for the two new endowed faculty chairs? Many thanks.

    • Dear Mr. Voinis,

      Thank you for your response. Welcome to this ongoing dialog, sir.

      Thank you also to President Powers and Tower Talk’s administrators for allowing this open discussion.

      Toward that end:

      Mr. Voinis, you have made specific numerical assertions; proving their validity should be axiomatic.

      Therefore will you kindly share the source(s) of your figures?

      For decades we have been showered with confetti of official numbers—all casting the football program in a glowing light vis-à-vis its contribution to UT. However, given that $700,000 expended for re-locating trees during the last major round of stadium renovations (totaling a cool $175 million) was officially described as an “academic initiative,” do you begin to understand my skepticism?

      Surely you would not posit figures without the proof at your fingertips. By all means please show us. Moreover, state law mandates that the financial ledgers of the University be available for public inspection. Dropping the portcullis with UT’s standard “File a Freedom of Information request” (entailing a blind search through warehouses of documents and a prohibitive per-page reproduction fee) would be poor form. Play hard but play fair.

      We need the real deal, sir—not just a blizzard of carefully massaged numbers. Something to withstand scrutiny—unlike the busy spreadsheet (crammed with vague categories purporting to document progressively larger annual losses at the Cactus Café) publicly circulated by the Vice-President for Student Affairs last April 21 . .the one a CPA in attendance assessed at that meeting as “meaningless.”