ESPN gets jump on NCAA basketball rights

A little piece of the NCAA men's college-basketball tournament is returning
to ESPN one year ahead of schedule.

ESPN, the NCAA and CBS, which holds broadcast rights to the NCAA Tournament,
agreed to air the first game of the men's tournament on ESPN, even though the
Walt Disney Co.-owned sports network doesn't officially acquire rights for that game until

ESPN had TV rights for the entire NCAA Tournament from 1980 through 1990, when the
event moved to its current home on CBS.

Last year, CBS produced the game between the 64th- and 65th-seeded teams and
aired it on sister Viacom Inc. network TNN: The National Network.

Also as part of the agreement, ESPN will air a tournament-selection show and
Final Four special in concert with CBS' coverage.

ESPN holds rights to the women's basketball tournament beginning next