On Wednesday, the NCAA issued a clarification and apology to viewers of Sunday’s Boston University-St. Lawrence game whose broadcast services cut away from the matchup during overtime.
Television broadcasts of both the East and West Regionals are produced and syndicated by the NCAA, which sells broadcast rights nationwide. Both Fox Sports New New England and Midwest Sports Channel-Wisconsin left the six-hour BU-SLU matchup — the longest in NCAA tournament history, eventually won 3-2 in four overtimes by St. Lawrence — to broadcast a previously-contracted NBA game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics.
Chris Farrow, NCAA Productions’ assistant director of broadcast services, issued the following statement:
“We certainly understand [viewers’] frustration in having one of the most exciting hockey games in NCAA championship history interrupted in the middle of overtime action.
“NCAA Productions has no air time available to it. We produce the coverage of a number of NCAA championships not covered by our contracts with CBS or ESPN and provide that coverage to local, regional or national networks for airing. All networks have a number of pre-existing contractual arrangements that they must honor. Such was the case, Sunday, March 26 …
“We apologize to all the loyal fans of those two universities who wanted to see the end of the game, and we recognize that our apology may not ease your frustration. NCAA Productions is pleased that we can produce and deliver all games of the tournament without overlap. Unfortunately, we have no control over local programming.”
Farrow also stressed the NCAA’s strong ties to both networks, noting that “over the last two NCAA hockey championships, both MSC and FSNNE have aired 13/16 (81%) of the NCAA regional hockey games live. No other station or network has expressed as much interest as these two regional sports networks. … FSNNE and MSC should be applauded for their continued support of NCAA college hockey.”
The NCAA national semifinals will be broadcast Thursday, April 6, on espn2, and the championship Saturday, April 8, on ESPN.