After winning 16 games in the last two seasons — including an Ivy League title in 1999 — the Yale football team garnered a huge off-field victory yesterday.

Athletics director Tom Beckett confirmed yesterday that the Eastern College Athletic Conference has reached an agreement with the New England Sports Network to broadcast eight contests this season. Yale will be the marquee team in this contract, with the Elis featured on NESN three or four times this season — more than any other squad. The deal means that Bulldog contests will be seen by 3.1 million homes throughout New England on basic cable, and millions more across the country have access to the channel via satellite systems.

The games will be broadcast as part of the ECAC Game of the Week package, which kicks off with a September 29th contest featuring the Elis at Holy Cross. The two other Yale contests which have been confirmed include Yale’s October 20th battle against Pennsylvania at Franklin Field and the Bulldogs’ game at Columbia October 27th. These three contests will be broadcast live. Beckett confirmed yesterday that a fourth Yale game may be added, but the details have not been completely worked out at this time.

Beckett said that the University did have to pay a fee to televise the games on NESN.

“This package really helps us do a lot to let prospective students know that Yale football has the opportunity to be on television and generates the interest to be on a channel with as large an audience as NESN,” Beckett said.

The deal with also impact recruiting.

“The NESN package will be great for recruiting. … We will forward the schedule to all of our recruits and this is an opportunity for the recruits and their parents to get a look at us during their hectic season,” Yale football head coach Jack Siedlecki said. “It can only be beneficial.”

However, NESN is not available on the Yale campus since Comcast does not broadcast the channel. NESN is seen throughout New England — except in Fairfield County and parts of New Haven County which receive New York’s MSG network in its place.

“We are exploring every possible opportunity to bring the games to the Yale campus and to as many people as we possibly can,” Associate Athletic Director Wayne Dean said.

Comcast’s Director of Public Relations Melody Avery said that the cable company is willing to explore every option available to bring the games to students.

ECAC commissioner Phil Buttafuoco also noted that with three games confirmed already, and the possibility of having a fourth, Yale is in a unique situation in terms of exposure. No other team has more than two games televised.

“This will showcase how exciting Yale football is,” Beckett said. “And with general admission ticket prices of $5, Yale football may be one of the best sports buys in all of New England.”

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