The University of Minnesota athletics department has ended its near 70-year relationship with WCCO radio.
Starting this fall, Gopher football coverage will move to Clear Channel’s KFAN (simulcast on KTLK), while men’s and women’s basketball and men’s hockey will be aired on Hubbard Broadcasting’s local ESPN station.
The University would have liked to continue the relationship, University athletics spokesman Garry Bowman said, but the school “got some very strong offers that were too good not to look at. Our relationship with WCCO made the decision very difficult.”
Wednesday’s announcement ends WCCO’s 68 years of Gopher football broadcasting and more than 30 years of men’s basketball coverage.
The athletics department started shopping around last fall but didn’t announce the change until Wednesday.
University athletics director Joel Maturi thanked WCCO in a press release for an “outstanding run” and its “dedicated coverage” but said the new partnerships “represent the best overall platforms for Gophers sports on radio.”
Bowman said current programming at KFAN and ESPN forced the split between football coverage and the other three sports.
KFAN, AM 1130, currently simulcasts Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Timberwolves games.
If the station picked up any sport besides football there is the possibility of a conflict in scheduling, but because college football is usually slotted on Saturday and Vikings games on Sunday or Monday, the move was a good fit.
ESPN, on the other hand, wanted to become the new home of Gopher winter sports, Bowman said. The station, AM 1500 KSTP, is the radio home of the Minnesota Twins.
“At the end of the day, this is just how it broke down.”
In addition to broadcasting games, the new stations will roll out their own scheduled Gopher sports programming. KFAN will host a one-hour weekly coaches show with new football head coach Jerry Kill. Likewise, ESPN will be hosting shows with men’s basketball head coach Tubby Smith, women’s basketball coach Pam Borton and men’s hockey coach Don Lucia.
Clear Channel already has plans to market its new partnership with the football team through billboards and social media.