State Colleges

Butler radio team shut out of finale

When Sunday's Citizens Bank Bowl between No. 1 Butler Community College and No. 2 Navarro hits the airwaves, it will be doing so without the talents of either team's radio broadcast crew.

A bidding process that took place in September — without the knowledge of either team's home radio station — granted exclusive broadcast rights to KSEK, 1340-AM and 99.1-FM out of Pittsburg, where the game is located, and will be broadcast on KQAM, 1480-AM in Wichita.

The bidding process was conducted by a committee headed by bowl director J.D. Ettore, who is also the athletic director at Fort Scott Community College. KSEK is the exclusive rights holder for Fort Scott athletics.

Last week, both KNSS (1330-AM), which broadcasts Butler games out of Wichita, and KRVF (106.9-FM) in Corsicana, Texas, which airs Navarro games, were told they wouldn't be allowed to broadcast the title game.

"There were five stations, all in southeast Kansas, that received RFPs (requests for purchase) regarding the game," Ettore said. "We needed a radio station by the end of the September for the bowl game, and we needed to lock down a local station. There's no way we could have known, back then, who the teams were going to be.

"I don't think my position (as Fort Scott AD) had anything to do with this decision. It was a committee that decided, not just me."

And why are the team's local stations not allowed to broadcast the NJCAA championship game alongside KSEK?

"Because it's exclusive rights, that's why," Ettore said. "Next year, if they want to be part of the bidding process, that's fine... but, like I said, we had to lock down a local radio station."

According to Dennis Higgins, who does Butler's play-by-play for KNSS, multiple overtures were made to Ettore by himself, Butler president Jackie Viette and athletic director Todd Carter about finding a compromise. Each was met with the same response: One station, one broadcast.

"I am devastated, as you can imagine," Higgins said. "In 24 years in this business, this is the most disappointed I've ever been. Even the Super Bowl allows the home team's broadcast crew to cover the game. We've been locked out of this game for no logical reason and our efforts to find a solution have been met with obstinance. Illogic has prevailed.

"We fought tooth and nail to be able to broadcast the game. I've done 69 straight Butler football games but I won't be doing this one."

Mike Snow, general manager for KSEK, said the radio station received a letter from the Citizens Bank Bowl in early September about putting in a bid to broadcast the game. The bid was due Sept. 30.

KSEK submitted a bid for $1,000 along with a package that detailed what their coverage of the game would be, including a pregame show, game broadcast and postgame wrapup.

It was the only bid received. Snow and Matt Newberry, who broadcast Fort Scott games, will call Sunday's game.

"I can't say for sure if we would have bid, but we definitely would have discussed it," KNSS' Higgins said. "The thing is that it was never an option. We weren't even notified and now we're being excluded. It's unprecedented."

KSEK also had exclusive rights to last year's national championship game between Fort Scott and Blinn (Texas).

"When we put the bid in, we had no idea who would be playing in the game," KSEK's Snow said. "At that time, it could've ended up being Nassau (N.Y.) against Snow (Utah) College for all we knew."

Attempts to broadcast the game on television in Wichita were also rejected. When Cox 22 approached Ettore and the committee, they were informed several days later by the NJCAA that they would not be allowed to broadcast.

Cox 22 will broadcast Saturday's Salt City Bowl between No. 10 Hutchinson and No. 17 Eastern Arizona.

"We were told by the NJCAA that they had control of the games and they'd given the broadcast streaming rights to someone down in Florida," said Cox 22 broadcaster Mark Ewing. "I would have really liked to have put (the title game) on TV because we've been down to Pittsburg to broadcast MIAA games and for the Shrine Bowl.

"We went into it thinking we could do both the Salt City Bowl and the Citizens Bank Bowl."

The reaction from Navarro's broadcasting team wasn't much different than Butler. KSEK will send a feed of the game to KRVF in Corsicana.

"Bottom line is I just don't think it's right," Navarro color commentator Steve Petty said. "I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed in the way it went down, with the bids and all. We've spent a lot of money this year covering this team and we think our fans deserve this."