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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

An Open Letter to the St. John's Athletic Department

Congratulations on assembling what sounds like an exciting young team. As a long-time fan of the program, I was glad to read about Avery Patterson breaking the team record for three-pointers in the season opener, and about Darryl Hill's progress in the Navy game.

Please note that I am reading about these exciting games. Like most of the rest of the world, I haven't been able to see or hear the Red Storm play this year.

It continues to be a disappointment that, in a city with approximately nineteen all-sports cable outlets, only four of fourteen Red Storm games before the new year will be televised. While Norm Roberts' squad was playing its most anticipated season opener in years, the SNY Network showed Connecticut vs. Quinnipiac. For game two against Navy, SNY subscribers were treated to a Big 10 football game.

I know that this subject has been brought to your attention in the past. And I'm aware that the rights to TV broadcasts are controlled by the Big East Conference. And I'm certainly aware that, after the catastrophic years of the Mike Jarvis regime, St. John's basketball doesn't have the same cache to TV networks as it did during the days of Chris Mullin or Walter Berry or Mark Jackson or Ron Artest.

The fact remains -- Connecticut somehow manages to get its season opener on the air -- and on a major cable network in New York City.

To make matters worse, local radio coverage is provided by 1050 ESPN Radio. 1050 also holds the broadcast rights to the Knicks and Rangers -- if either team has a conflict with a St. John's game, the Red Storm is shunted to 1560 Radio Disney... which has a signal so weak, it cannot be heard in Westchester or on Long Island, and which does not offer internet radio of basketball games. As a result, the most die-hard fans of St. John's basketball -- the guys who spend their lives discussing recruits and game plans and coaching decisions on -- spend game nights trying to connect to streaming radio broadcasts from Jacksonville or Annapolis.

You are alienating your die-hard fans. Worse, casual fans don't even know you exist.

It seems a shame to hide Norm Roberts' light under a bushel. So here's a suggestion from a long-time fan: your arrangement with the Big East must be amended. You need to have the option to sell games that aren't picked up as part of the league TV contract to SNY or some other local network. These games need to be on the air. High school players and their coaches and parents need to see St. John's -- and not the Connecticut Huskies or Boston College Eagles -- on television in New York.

And New York's basketball fans need to see something other than the Knicks.

If the Big East cannot adjust so that all its member schools get appropriate media coverage; perhaps its member schools should take a second look at participation in the Big East.


Anonymous said...

Spot on, Looie.

My second-most-watched college program after SJU is the U of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves hockey team. (I have a nephew who plays there.)

I live in Canada. I can watch all of UAA's games (including their pre-season tournament) online. I can't even get a radio feed for many SJU games, never mind a television broadcast.

Please explain this to me:

• second-tier sport vs college hoops (I love hockey, but even the NHL can't get on a major network in the US
• a remote outpost like Anchorage vs the media capital of the world.
• the Western Collegiate Hockey Association vs the Big East.

What is wrong with this picture?

Samuel Small said...

Hello Looie,

My name is Samuel Small. I read a lot of the post on As I have been unable to register on that website and like you argue being unable to see the Redstorm, I use you cats on the site to keep updated on St. John's.

I guess like everything else in life, winning breeds exposure. I remember in the day where I could watch St. John''s on Channel 2 and Channel 9 here in NY. Or listen to them while at work on WFAN. As they started losing, broadcasters didn't see them as worthwhile to invest in. I guess if we go say 10-1 or maybe go on a good run and say go 12-1 and get ranked, I guess MSG or Fox Sports and Sports New York, may feel that St. John's is worth the broadcast pick up. I also guess when St. John's plays in MSG and the broadcasters see a sea of Red and not Duke, Kentucky or UConn blue, that to will draw them to feel it may be worth broadcasting St. John's Games IF it becomes a hot ticket. Finally, I believe once again when we recruit on a national basis, we will become attractive to them.

Thank you for your time and space.

Charlie said...

You're right. If and when St. John's is a nationally-ranked program again, getting their games on TV won't be a problem.

Flipside of that is it will be harder to build a nationally-ranked program, and to build up that level of interest, if fans (and potential recruits) in the NYC metro area are looking at Connecticut games instead of St. John's.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is annoying not able to hear or see the men's basketball games.
I mean, how come you can listen to women's basketball games on and not the men's? I guess it's due to contracts. Is it a BigEast issue? Cause you can listen to men's and women's soccer and volleyball live. Well I mean you could while their season was active.

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