KENNESAW — While Kennesaw State’s football team will not be joining Conference USA until 2024, it already knows that when it does, the new media rights deal the conference signed last week will help bring it a lot more exposure around the country.
As part of a five-year deal the conference signed with ESPN and CBS Sports Network, C-USA agreed to play its entire football October schedule on weekdays — Tuesday and Wednesday games, with the occasional matchup on Thursdays and Fridays.
It will be a similar setup to what the Mid-American conference has done the last few years during November.
As Kennesaw State continues to build its fan base ahead of its move to C-USA and the Football Bowl Subdivision, the fact that it could be the only game in town on those nights should help grow attendance, and give people across the country an opportunity to watch what has been one of the most successful start-up programs in NCAA history.
“This deal will be great for Conference USA and for KSU starting in 2024 for the increased visibility it will bring,” athletic director Milton Overton said. “One of the benefits we saw in the jump to FBS was the heightened publicity for this great institution. The package of linear and digital broadcasts will provide great exposure for our programs and unique opportunities to engage our fans and university communities in person and across the country. The geographic footprint of Conference USA also brings new recruitment opportunities not just for athletics but all of Kennesaw State University.”
Weekday games are nothing new to Kennesaw State. Over the first eight seasons of the program, it has played six times on Thursday nights, though five were season openers. The only other time it played a weekday game was in 2018, when the program played its first two games of the season on Thursdays.
Owls coach Brian Bohannon has had to deal with the changes in the schedule before when he was an assistant at Navy. He said there is an adjustment that needs to be made.
“I’ve done the mid-week before,” he said. “It’s different — there’s no question about it — but it’s something we’ll just navigate and deal with when the time comes.”
Maximizing the conference exposure was important to C-USA as, in addition to Kennesaw State, it has four other new members joining in 2023 in Liberty, Jacksonville State, New Mexico State and Sam Houston State. They will join Florida International, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee State, Western Kentucky and UTEP to form the 10-team conference.
As part of the deal, ESPN will carry eight mid-week football games per season. In addition, ESPN+ or ESPN3 will carry all additional regular-season football games, while also serving as the exclusive digital home for C-USA’s other sports aside from basketball. C-USA tournament games, aside from the title games for baseball and softball, which will air on CBS Sports Network.
The agreement also gives CBS Sports Network broadcast rights to 18 football games and 18 men’s basketball games per season, while also televising the football championship, men’s basketball semifinal and championship games, the women’s basketball championship game and the baseball and softball championship games.