Big South Media Day notes: Conference extends media rights deal with ESPN

By Brian Wilmer -

The Big South Conference and ESPN announced Tuesday an extension to their existing media rights deal. Nearly 1,000 conference sporting events will appear on ESPN-branded networks, with over 900 of those airing on ESPN+. The deal makes ESPN+ the exclusive digital home of conference productions.

“This is a great day for the Big South,” said Big South Commissioner Kyle Kallander in a release issued by the league.  “For 27 years ESPN has carried compelling Big South content, and for 27 years the Big South has been a willing partner for the company’s latest innovation — whether it was ESPNU, ESPN3, or now ESPN+.  We have benefited tremendously from ESPN’s leadership in the media landscape, and are thrilled to provide seven more years of comprehensive exposure for Big South student-athletes and member institutions!”

“We are thrilled to become the exclusive rights holder for the conference, carrying nearly 1,000 games each year on our platforms, including numerous conference championship games,” added ESPN Executive Vice President of Programming and Scheduling Burke Magnus. “The Big South also adds to the exclusive content fans can find on ESPN+, which now includes more than 15 college conferences.”

The league will continue to make events available via ESPN3, with some championship events continuing to air on ESPN or ESPN2.

Kennesaw State’s opener with Georgia State at Turner Field in Atlanta will be the first 2018 ESPN+ broadcast involving a conference school.  That game is slated for a 7:00 (Eastern) start on Thursday, August 30.

Three additional games involving Big South teams have been announced for ESPN platforms. Those games are:

Friday, Aug. 31
Monmouth at Eastern Michigan (ESPN+) – 6:30pm

Saturday, Sept. 1
Charleston Southern at Florida (SEC Network) – 7:30pm

Saturday, Sept. 15
Campbell at Coastal Carolina (ESPN3) – 7:00pm

The Big South announced at Media Day Tuesday its preseason All-Conference teams.  Those honorees include:

QB – Chandler Burks, R-Sr., Kennesaw State
RB – Pete Guerriero, R-Soph., Monmouth
RB – Darnell Holland, Sr., Kennesaw State
WR – Reggie White Jr., R-Sr., Monmouth
WR – Justin Sumpter, R-Sr., Kennesaw State
WR – Kameron Brown, R-Jr., Charleston Southern
TE – Jake Powell, R-Jr., Monmouth
OL – C.J. Collins, R-Sr., Kennesaw State
OL – Ryan Wetzel, R-Sr., Monmouth
OL – Joseph Alexander Jr., R-Sr., Kennesaw State
OL – Ryan Warrior, Sr., Kennesaw State
OL – Russ Clayton, R-Sr., Monmouth

DL – Solomon Brown, R-Sr., Charleston Southern
DL – Desmond Johnson, R-Jr., Kennesaw State
DL – Johnny Robinson, Sr., Charleston Southern
DL – McKenzie Billingslea, Sr., Kennesaw State
LB – Bryson Armstrong, R-Soph., Kennesaw State
LB – Anthony Gore Jr., R-Sr., Kennesaw State
LB – J.D. Sosebee, R-Jr., Charleston Southern
LB – Jack Ryan, R-Sr., Campbell
DB – Jace White, Sr., Kennesaw State
DB – Tymere Berry, Jr., Monmouth
DB – Shadarius Hopkins, Sr., Charleston Southern
DB – Dorian Walker, Jr., Kennesaw State

PK – Justin Thompson, Sr., Kennesaw State
P – Kyle Reighard, R-Jr., Charleston Southern
KR – Pete Guerriero, R-Soph., Monmouth
PR – Taz Lindsey, Sr., Charleston Southern
LS – Drew McCracken, Sr., Kennesaw State

QB – Kenji Bahar, Jr., Monmouth
RB – Shaquil Terry, Soph., Kennesaw State
WR – Aaron Blockmon, R-Sr., Campbell
TE – Riley Hilton, R-Sr., Presbyterian College
OL – Will Millikan, Sr., Gardner-Webb
DL – Josh Ramseur, R-Sr., Gardner-Webb
LB – Diego Zubieta, Sr., Monmouth
DB – Brandon Rowland, R-Sr., Charleston Southern
PK – Tyler Tekac, Sr., Charleston Southern
P – Nicholas Jones, Soph., Kennesaw State
KR – Shaquil Terry, Soph., Kennesaw State
PR – Jaquan Brooks, R-Jr., Campbell
LS – Ethan Ray, R-Soph., Charleston Southern

Chandler Burks, R-Sr., QB, Kennesaw State (Douglasville, Ga.)

Bryson Armstrong, R-Soph., LB, Kennesaw State (Marietta, Ga)

The league’s head coaches and media panel voted Kennesaw State the preseason favorite to win the conference title. The Owls finished 5-0 in Big South play last season, advancing to the FCS playoff quarterfinals before falling to sixth-seeded Sam Houston State. Kennesaw State received 17 of the 18 possible first-place votes, tallying 107 of 108 possible points. Monmouth received the other first-place vote. The Owls are a consensus preseason top-ten squad among FCS pollsters.

The projected order of finish is as follows:

Rk – Team (first-place votes)  Points
 1 – Kennesaw State (17)  107
 2 – Monmouth (1)  82
 3 – Charleston Southern  75
 4 – Gardner-Webb  52
 5 – Campbell  36
 6 – Presbyterian College  26

*** Hampton and North Alabama are future Big South members who will play league opponents as out-of-conference contests in 2018.