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NCAA to Discuss Televising High School Sports on College Networks

The NCAA will host an "educational summit"in Indianapolis on Aug. 22 to discuss the airing of high school sports on collegiate networks, as some colleges have expressed concern that those networks could provide recruiting advantages to their respective schools.

The University of Texas, which earlier this year signed a $300 million, 20-year agreement with ESPN to form the 24/7 Longhorn Network, received an invitation to the gathering from the NCAA, dated Monday, according to CBSSports.com. Beyond covering sports at Texas, the Longhorn Network planned on giving high school sports coverage on an authenticated website, according to the original press release from April.

Texas isn't the only university to have its own network, as Brigham Young University runs footage of their sports teams on BYUtv.com. The Big 10 conference has its own Big 10 Network with FOX, and the newly-formed Pac 12 conference also announced a new conference network in partnership with ESPN and FOX earlier this year.

The high school exposure aspect of the Longhorn Network rubbed some fellow Big 12 conference members the wrong way. Texas A&M, a rival of the Longhorns, hasn't been shy about voicing opposition to the network because of a potential recruiting advantage it may create.

And the furor over televising high school games on the Longhorn Network skyrocketed in early June, after Dave Brown, the network vice president of programming, spoke on Austin radio station KZNX-FM about the specific plans regarding televising high school games.

Brown said that the network planned on broadcasting at least 18 high school games this season and hinted that it would try to feature those with prospects being recruited by Division I schools—particularly Texas or other Big 12 schools. (SportsByBrooks.com provides a partial transcript here.)

At the Big 12 media days on Monday, University of Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel added his name to the list of Longhorn Network detractors. "It's a lack of common sense there to think that the network, the university network, can have high school games," Pinkel said. "I'll leave that to some other people to make those decisions."

For his part, Texas football coach Mack Brown believes that televising high school football games won't be an advantage to Texas alone; he thinks the network could benefit the Big 12 as a whole.

"I think the people that would be hurt if you don't show high school games will be the high school coach, the players who 99 percent (sic) will not even play college football," Brown said at the media-days event. "My gosh, the Big 12 is full of Texas high school football players. So if you think about it, there would be a lot more prospects from the other teams in the Big 12 on the network than the ones from Texas."

Texas Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds has repeatedly stressed that Texas will take every necessary step to ensure that the Longhorn Network remains in compliance with NCAA rules. "ESPN will select the games based on what they feel is best," Dodds told the Houston Chronicle in mid-July.

"I'm stunned [at some of this]," said Dodds on Monday, according to CBSSports.com. "We've been saying the same thing from the beginning of this. We are not and will never do anything [to violate rules]. I'm a little surprised people would be concerned about us doing something."

Dodds noted that the Big 12 athletic directors will meet on Aug. 1, three weeks ahead of the NCAA summit, to discuss the issue of airing youth sports on collegiate TV networks. Until the Big 12 and NCAA convene, Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe has put the televising of high school games on the Longhorn Network on hold, according to the Dallas Morning News.

The National Federation of State High School Associations has been invited to attend the one-day summit, as have broadcasting experts. At the summit, invitees are expected to discuss how these new television networks could affect NCAA rules governing amateurism and recruiting.

Want all the latest K-12 sports news? Follow @SchooledinSport on Twitter.

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