ESPN executive likes the idea of three UNC-Duke regular-season men’s games

By R.L. Bynum

Bitter rivals North Carolina and Duke played three times in men’s basketball last season. But what if that happened in the regular season before ACC and NCAA tournament play?

Burke Magness, ESPN’s president of programming and original content, agreed during an episode this week of the “The Marshand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast,” that this might be one unconventional way of producing more revenue for the ACC and ESPN. The interview starts 25 minutes into the podcast, and the topic of an extra UNC-Duke game is discussed at 54:27.

Both hosts are sports media reporters, Andrew Marshand for the New York Post and John Ourand of Sports Business Journal. They asked Magness about scheduling more than two UNC-Duke games during the regular season, which Magness admitted that he hadn’t considered. He said he might steal that idea.


“I don’t think anything’s off the table from a consideration perspective, right? Sometimes college sports tends to trap itself in its own tradition, right?” Magness said. “Tradition is what we also love about college sports. You can’t throw everything out the window. That’s a perfect example of something where if you innovate around your most valuable assets, maybe there’s a way to get both things accomplished, right? All of that is on the table.”

Magness emphasized that college sports, from his perspective, isn’t necessarily about market size but about rivalries. None are more intense than the UNC-Duke rivalry, which was taken to another level with the Tar Heels’ win over the Blue Devils in the Final Four semifinals last season.

UNC and Duke haven’t played three times in a regular season since playing in the last of eight Big Four Tournament matchups between the rivals, the Tar Heels’ 78–76 victory in the first round of the Greensboro Coliseum event on Dec. 5, 1980.

Which school would get a second home game or would that third game be played in Charlotte or Greensboro?

Magness also praised the landscape of women’s sports in the ACC.

Photo via @UNC_Basketball

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