ESPN’s influence on college athletics —especially football –might seem obvious to to the average fan, but the NYT series is interesting nonetheless. Part one takes a look at ESPN’s influence over scheduling…

Either way, on many campuses today, it is impossible to ignore the anxiety about the trade-offs inherent in big-time sports. These concerns turned up repeatedly in a Times review of minutes from faculty senate meetings in recent years.

In March, the East Carolina chancellor, Steve Ballard, spoke in support of a faculty senate resolution urging Conference USA universities to review their travel policies to minimize disruption to classes and tests. According to a paraphrase in the minutes, Mr. Ballard “stated that it is absolutely against the interests of public education to let commercial entities like ESPN dictate the football schedules and therefore dictate the travel schedules and the class time available to our student athletes.”

..While part two analyzes Louisville’s athletic boom, culminating with its entry into the ACC, which will likely quadruple the university’s TV rights:

What ESPN offered Louisville, beyond millions of dollars in fees for television rights, was prime-time exposure on the leading sports network, putting Cardinals football in front of national audiences of fans, donors, recruits and prospective students.

The cost to Louisville? It had to be ready to play whenever ESPN could fit the Cardinals into its schedule.

“Louisville came to us and said, ‘We’ll play anyone, anywhere, anytime,’ ” said Mark Shapiro, a former head of programming and production at ESPN. Indeed, “anytime, anywhere” became Mr. Jurich’s motto in his early years as athletic director.