Behind the curtain: Why BSU picked PeakDon Day | July 20, 2008
© 2008 Idaho Radio News
The battle for the rights to broadcast Boise State University Athletics on a local radio station has been unusually contentious – and public.
Idaho Radio News obtained nearly 200 pages of documents related to Peak Broadcasting’s acquisition of the radio rights to Boise State University sports. The documents were obtained under Idaho’s open records law, and were so voluminous that the university had to spend staff time to cull and redact the records (don’t worry taxpayers, I paid the $47 bill). IRN also reviewed an audiotape of a June meeting of the Idaho State Board of Education where Citadel tried to push for a rebid of the contract, and Boise State was put in the position of defending its choice of Peak Broadcasting.
We’ve also looked at several versions of the contract and e-mails between Peak executives and Boise State officials.
The records help paint a better picture of not only how Peak was awarded the contract, but how and why it landed on Bob Behler and Jadon Dailey as its broadcast team for this fall’s football games.
Citadel’s last stand
Peak Broadcasting and KIDO were officially awarded the contract in April – with the new deal set to start as soon as the 35-year relationship with Citadel and KBOI ended in June.
“I’m not here to today to convince, but to raise our concerns,” Cameron said.
Cameron helped lay out Citadel’s case for why it wasn’t considered fairly. The bottom line, in Citadel’s estimation: cash. Citadel claimed it put forth more money toward the deal, and other factors like “enthusiasm” shouldn’t be considered.
“The financials of Citadel’s proposal was [sic] just superior,” he said. “Our suggested remedy for this would be to rebid.”
Later that day, the Board took up the matter, and Kevin Satterlee, attorney for Boise State said that while Peak’s bid was technically worth more, the incentives put forth by Peak far outweighed the cash.
Satterlee also emphasized that Peak’s bid included incentives for post-season play, which if the football team reached a bowl game or men’s basketball team made it to the NCAA or NIT tournament in one of the two years, Peak’s bid would actually pay out more money.
It’s the network
One of the key factors in awarding the bid to Peak was the creation of a region-wide network of affiliated stations. Peak’s proposal provided for stations across Idaho and throughout the region. Once the deal was signed, Peak SVP Kevin Godwin lined up affiliates in Ontario, McCall, Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, Pocatello and into Oregon and Washington. Citadel’s proposal provided for two markets: KBOI and a Spokane affiliate.
“KBOI has a very strong signal that reaches out across some parts of Idaho,” BSU President Dr. Robert Kustra said. “As strong as that signal is, it misses quite a bit of Idaho, and it misses our surrounding states. KIDO in their proposal offered to extend coverage of Boise State University athletics beyond the KBOI contract by signing up affiliates throughout the state and beyond the state.”
Satterlee estimated the value of that network at between $700,000 and $1 million – if Boise State were to go out and purchase airtime for its games to air on those stations.
But Cameron said that was unfair – since Citadel’s network, such as it is, also has value.
“I’ve not seen any basis for $1 million,” he said. “Peak didn’t put that number in (the bid). Citadel had also proposed a network, not the same as the network Peak proposed, but certainly not at a value of zero.”
The $700,000-$1 million figure determined by the school appears to have come from an estimate given by Godwin. In a spreadsheet outlining the value of promotions and airtime on the eleven stations in the Bronco Sports Network, Godwin came up with a figure of $496,642 per year – or $993,284 over the life of the contract. The value of just the airtime alone is estimated at $729,284.
Citadel valued its network at $350,000.
Broncos En Espanol
Another key factor cited was the creation of a Spanish-language affiliate. But Peak tried to finesse that part of the deal to a degree that Boise State felt compelled to remind Peak of how important the Spanish-language portion of the broadcasts were to the winning bid.
Godwin wanted to remove the Spanish-language portion of the deal from the final contract.
“(E)verything looks fine except for the commitment you are asking of us for Spanish broadcasts,” Godwin wrote. “I would prefer to leave that out of this contract and work with [sic] to secure a subcontractor agreement outside of the contract.”
Godwin said he “put the brakes” on the Spanish portion of the deal (with KWEI) because of liability concerns.
“We will work diligently to get a local Spanish broadcasting partner and secure the subcontractor agreement. But as for this BSU/Peak contract…there are two many variables & uncertainties at this point for us to commit to that network addition in our agreement.”
On June 12th, BSU General Counsel Satterlee said in no uncertain terms that this line of thinking wouldn’t fly. The “ground breaking” addition of the Spanish-language affiliate was key to the award.
“I… appreciate that we need to make sure that Peak and the University are covered as far as the liability of a third party station being involved,” Satterlee wrote to Godwin. “However, it is the fact of that new ground breaking that was the basis of the award of the contract to Peak. It was Peak’s proposal that included a Spanish language broadcast as part of the radio network and it was the creation of the network that was a pre-requisite to the contract award.”
“We need to find a way to make this work,” Satterlee wrote.
The formation of the Bronco Sports Network – and the Spanish portion of it in particular were noted at the June 19th State Board of Education meeting.
“Peak has committed to running our games on a Spanish station in the Treasure Valley, and that’s never been done before,” Satterlee told the board.
No value in the value
Another key point by the BSU team was that some of what Citadel proposed to do – and put value toward – actually didn’t have any value to the school.
The top item was the creation of an hour-long Saturday morning radio program. Satterlee said they tried this one time before and it “failed because it was too much of a burden to the University.”
Peak also proposed a weekly hourlong show – but the actual time-slot gave it more value in Boise State’s estimation. Peak’s show is slated to air on Wednesday evening, instead of the hectic Saturday morning period.
“Saturday morning is not a good time to have our athletics staff try and make a radio show when there is [sic] football games all through the fall and basketball games all through the winter,” Satterlee said. “While there’s quote-unquote value in the Citadel bid, there wasn’t any value to the University.”
Citadel also put $200,000 of value toward a NCAA Final Four tournament contest.
“While it does promote listenership to that station, it doesn’t promote value to the University,” he said.
The ‘inappropriate overture’
After Satterlee had a chance to defend the University’s choice of Peak Broadcasting, Dr. Kustra addressed the board one more time.
He said that his group went out of its way to be fair and equitable to all sides – and he was as surprised as anyone about the choice of Peak Broadcasting.
“I never in a million years thought the contract would be awarded to KIDO,” he said. “KBOI had a long history with Boise State, and if anybody had asked me to make the call, I would have assumed – and I did assume – that the contract would have stayed where it was for a number of years.”
Kustra said he doesn’t know Kevin Godwin – and said he doesn’t think he’s ever met him.
He mentioned several “overtures” on behalf of groups that wanted “this contract very badly.” He told the board that no back-channel requests ever came from Peak. But clearly someone at Citadel did something that Kustra thought to be improper.
“It’s particularly distressing that we bent over backwards to be fair, to be objective and to ignore some overtures that I think that were improper,” he said. “And in the end, the contract went to someone I didn’t even know.”
Godwin expressed gratitude to officials in the Athletic Department.
“Guys, I didn’t attend the SBOE meeting, but I know Kevin and Dr. Kustra put a lot of effort in defending your decision regarding the rights and I wanted to tell you how much we appreciated that.”
In the end, the State Board of Education approved the deal, and just a few days later, KIDO relaunched with a new BSU-themed logo and slogan. Over at Citadel, general manager Sandy Gamblin was fired from his post just two weeks after the decision.