Big Ten commissioner James E. Delany revealed the conference has signed a new ten-year national rights contract with ABC/ESPN and has reached a landmark deal with Fox Cable Networks to create the Big Ten Channel; a national network devoted to Big Ten athletic and academic programmes.

The ABC/ESPN contract takes effect, and the Big Ten Channel is expected to launch, in August 2007.

Conference chiefs say the deals will provide the organisation with its ‘greatest media exposure ever’ and ensures ‘long-term vitality’ for its member institutions’ broad-based athletic programmes.

The Big Ten Conference is an association of eleven universities competing in a range of sports.

Delany said: “The Big Ten is extremely proud to partner for the next decade with George Bodenheimer and his ABC/ESPN team to bring our events, student-athletes and coaches to fans and alumni across the country and beyond.”