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Prep football: Reno-area fight brews over rights to North title game


12:00 AM, Nov. 15, 2012 EST

Reed Raiders #2 Mark Nowaczewski and #25 Ty Shepard celebrate in the end zone after Shepard scored a touchdown against the Douglas Tigers during their game played on Friday night, November 2, 2012 at Reed High School in Sparks, Nevada. / Tom Smedes/Special to RGJ

Lee Adams has broadcast every Reed football game this season. He was there for the Raiders' first two games in California and there for last week's come-from-behind win against Spanish Springs.

But Adams won't broadcast Friday's Division I North championship from Mackay Stadium, home of the Wolf Pack football team.

Gustin Sports Productions holds exclusive media rights to the game and will air it on television, over the radio and online. Adams and Fred Weinberg, owner of KNNR 1400 AM, are not permitted to be on air.

"I don't understand the point of exclusivity. It's bad business and bad public policy," said Weinberg, who also owns radio stations in Elko and Ely. "I'm saddened by the NIAA's position. Someone over there, who shall remain nameless, called themselves a professional sports organization. I said, 'No, you're not; you're a high school organization.'

"My inclination is to take their lead, and if I can't broadcast this game Friday ... I'm not planning on setting foot in a Washoe County high school ever again."

GSP, owned by former Reno City Councilman Dan Gustin, is in the first year of a three-year media rights contract with the NIAA. GSP pays the NIAA $2,600 this year, $2,700 next year and $2,800 in 2014-15 to be rights holder. This is the second three-year contract between the two entities.

Under the contract, "regular-season and post-season contests will be based on a first-right of refusal by Gustin Sports Productions whereby other media outlets may be granted permission to pick-up an open contest."

The contract takes precedence "despite what or who broadcasts games during the regular-season for any particular school, station and/or regular-season affiliate programs/agreement."

The NIAA saw this issue coming weeks ago and encouraged GSP to broadcast a non-Reed game in the first two rounds of the playoffs. GSP was at Bishop Manogue-Spanish Springs two weeks ago and Damonte Ranch-McQueen last week.

The NIAA board of control selected GSP through a bidding process as the association's official media rights holder in 2009.

"The Board felt it wanted a rights contract with a reputable vendor rather than keep the open broadcasting policy that was in place for the previous six years." Donnie Nelson, NIAA assistant director, wrote in an email top the RGJ. "Before that there were also contracts with various groups over the years."

GSP will broadcast Friday's game between Reed and Damonte Ranch live on KNPB-TV, KHIT 1450 AM and gustinsports.com.

"The rights take effect (on a first-right of refusal basis) only when the particular game in question is not being offered in a local market," Nelson wrote. "In this case of the 2012 NIAA Division I Northern Region Football Championship game, the market is the Reno-Sparks area (AM 1450) and thus the rights kick in for GSP."

Weinberg understands the contract, and was aware of it at the beginning of the season. But he doesn't understand why one exists in the first place.

"I think I could beat them in court," he said. "But a lawyer is going to want $5,000-$7,000 and we haven't grossed that this year doing these games. We cover high schools sports for the same reason (newspapers) do: It's a good story.

"We were planning on doing a lot of basketball games. But they were going to be (postseason) tournament games. I don't want to fight with them on this. We may just be done."

 

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Rank School Record
1 Elko High School
Elko, NV
9-1-0
2 Lowry High School
Winnemucca, NV
19-2-0
3 Edward C Reed High School
Sparks, NV
21-6-0
4 Galena High School
Reno, NV
7-6-0
5 Reno High School
Reno, NV
10-6-0

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