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FAMU Athletics Director Kortne Gosha appears to have violated the terms of his contract by engaging the university athletics department in a start-up digital streaming television network. On February 17th FAMU Athletics announced a multi-year partnership with Urban Edge Networks (UEN) granting the company the broadcast rights to all available FAMU sports, the Marching 100, and other university-related content.
According to sources familiar with the deal, Gosha entered into the agreement without having it reviewed by the university general council or consent from his supervisor.
On its face, the contract violates the terms of his employment agreement and university regulation 1.019 (sub. 7) which prohibits university employees from creating a legal obligation on the part of the university. University policy states that, " all agreements, understandings, and contracts must be reviewed by the Office of General Counsel before execution.”
FAMU officials were also blindsided when it learned through the news media that UEN and HBCU League Pass+ had entered a FAMU branded NASCAR race car using the university's official trademarks into the nationally televised Pennzoil 400 race in Las Vegas without university approval.
The university was again caught off guard Friday, when it learned, again via news media, that a replica of the racecar was being marketed for pre-sale without university approval.
At odds with SWAC
FAMU's announcement with UEN, and an earlier one by Grambling State, drew the ire of SWAC Commissioner Charles McClelland. In an email obtained exclusively by Rattler Nation McClelland reminds the SWAC Council of Presidents of league policy that prohibits member institutions from signing national broadcast rights deals (linear or digital) that involve conference games.
McClellan told presidents that he was aware that UEN was approaching individual schools.
As you know, "we have a current contract with ESPN, and we are negotiating with television mogul Byron Allen for the remaining broadcast rights," McClellan wrote in his email. FAMU’s UEN/HBCU League Pass+ deal is in direct conflict with the digital streaming deal the SWAC is negotiating with Allen’s HBCU GO. According press reports, the SWAC partnership with HBCU GO will begin this fall (2022-23).
HBCU GO would distribute programming for the conference across all sports in the league, including football, basketball and volleyball — even Olympic sports.
According to McClelland, the SWAC/HBCU GO deal could potentially be worth as much as $120 million dollars over the life of the contract.
The FAMU Athletics release did not mention the length of its partnership with UEN or affix a dollar value to it.