ESPN History

#TBT: Remembering Walter Byers

The first contract to between ESPN and the NCAA signed by ESPN co-founder Bill Rasmussen.
The first contract between ESPN and the NCAA.

Front Row’s #TBT: Throwback Thursday remembers Walter Byers, the NCAA’s first executive director, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 93.

ESPN owes a great deal of gratitude to Byers, who in 1979 took a chance on working with the new cable television network. Above is a copy of a contract ESPN and the NCAA negotiated for rights to air sporting events more than 36 years ago.

Network founder Bill Rasmussen recalled a discussion with Byers during contract negotiations.

“If we could say something about our negotiations [at The Cable Show], that would be ideal. If it happened to be on a piece of NCAA stationery, that would be even better,” Rasmussen recalled.

“And he said, ‘Well, I think we can do that.’ I about fell out of the chair.”

Watch the entire interview with Rasmussen regarding negotiating with Byers.

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