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UMass close to football TV deal; shakes up radio broadcast

  • McGuirk Stadium, home of the UMass Minutemen. JERREY ROBERTS



@MattVautourDHG
Wednesday, August 02, 2017

UMass is close to announcing a TV package for the 2017 football season and will have a different lineup in the radio booth.

Multiple sources with knowledge of the situation said that the athletic department has nearly completed a deal with Eleven Sports to carry the team’s six home games (including the Nov. 11 game against Maine at Fenway Park).

Eleven Sports Network, which will pay for all production costs, is the American arm of a British company that had begun adding more American sports entities. It carries Big Sky and Ivy League football games as well. It’s available on DirecTV and FiOS. While Eleven isn’t available on any New England cable carriers, NESN or NESNplus will pick up the Eleven feed for all the games.

Streaming video online will be available through UMass’ website.

UMass had a deal with American Sports Network last year, but that company folded in March.

UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford declined to confirm the agreement, but promised a deal that would be good for both UMass and its fans.

“I’m very happy that we’re going to have a national broadcast partner and a regional broadcast partner and the ability to stream it,” Bamford said. “I’m very happy with the direction and we’re going to announce something soon.”

Bamford confirmed a change with the radio broadcast team. Former New England Patriots offensive lineman Pete Brock will replace former UMass kicker Matt Goldstein as the lead color analyst on the radio broadcasts. Josh Maurer will return as the program’s play-by-play voice.

Brock, 63, was a Patriot from 1976-1987. He’s worked as a postgame analyst on Patriots radio broadcasts and has done other college analyst work as well.

Bamford said Learfield, which owns UMass’ broadcast rights, and WEEI initiated the change.

He said Goldstein would retain his role as the Mullins Center’s public address announcer for basketball and hockey, and that it was possible Goldstein would fill a different role in the football broadcast.

“We may use Goldstein in a sideline capacity,” Bamford said. “We want to keep him involved in all the things with basketball and hockey. He may have a football role but we haven’t determined what that would be. He’s very connected with our program. He’s a good person. I’d like to keep him involved in our football program whether it’s through our radio partners or in some capacity for UMass athletics.”

Neither Goldstein, nor Learfield representatives could not be reached for comment.

TAILGATING, ETC. — Bamford said UMass’ new premium green tailgate spots have almost sold out, but a small number of new ones could be created if fans are interested.

“If any season ticket holders want to get in on it, they need to call us,” Bamford said. “We can create a few more, but we’re pretty close to selling out.”

He said interest in the new Commonwealth Club, a pregame reception area featuring a cash bar and big screen televisions, has also garnered considerable interest.

“It’s going to be a fun, club atmosphere outside the stadium,” he said. “It’ll replace the alumni tent and be a little more cutting edge.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage