Area basketball fans were unable to watch Maryland's 90-67 victory over Wake Forest on television because of logistical problems caused by the late decision to hold the game, said Mike Burks, a producer for Fox Sports Net, which had the rights to the game.
Fox was originally going to broadcast the game Sunday at 8 p.m. and it was to be shown locally on Comcast SportsNet. After the game was postponed because of the weather conditions, ACC officials held a conference call yesterday morning and decided at noon to play at 5 p.m. The lateness of the decision combined with the lack of available crew to work on the telecast prevented the game from being televised, said Burks, who was in College Park for the game.
"It's really logistics," Burks said. "We hired people for [Sunday]. We had no people at noon on Monday. . . . Fox had no reason not to televise this game. We took an enormous financial hit for not putting the game on."
Television crews, consisting of approximately 30 people, usually arrive at the arena to begin preparing for a broadcast about 12 hours prior to tip-off. Because the ACC waited until noon to make its decision, Fox Sports Net did not have enough time or people to set up for a game five hours later.
ACC officials did not return calls seeking comment.
Comcast SportsNet was relying on Fox Sports Net, which holds the rights to ACC games on Sunday night. Instead of the game, the station aired "You Gotta See This!" a program on unusual and dangerous sports competitions and incidents.
"We were picking up their feed," said Chris Heline, a spokesman for Comcast SportsNet. "It's a Fox game."
The lack of television coverage of such an important game in the ACC race did not sit well with area basketball fans. The Washington Post received more than 200 calls from people upset that the game was not on television.
"I'm stunned," said Ann Lewis of Annapolis. "It's a major ACC game. You ought to be able to see it on TV."
"First of all, I'm surprised that they played it," said Vincent Gray of Washington. "You have students obviously who attend, but you have a number of people who have to drive there, so it's a bit hazardous. If they did decide to play it, they should make it accessible like if it was on at the normal time."
"As far as I'm concerned, these are two of the best teams in the country, and one of them is local," said Joe Urban of Fairfax. "I just can't believe they can't find some way to get it on television."
Had the game been played on Sunday, as scheduled, it would have been shown. Fox Sports Net had its crew and on-air talent in College Park. Both teams went through warmups earlier that day and were ready to play. But because of concern for fan safety, the game was postponed.
"We could have televised it easily," Burks said. "We were prepared. . . . Everybody made the right decision for all the right reasons."
The game was broadcast on radio by WBAL-1090 and WMAL-630.
Special correspondents Steve Argeris and Dan Steinberg contributed to this report.