WCCO to broadcast Tommie football next year

Coach Glenn Caruso and the Tommie football team. (John Kruger/TommieMedia)

WCCO and St. Thomas announced Wednesday that 2011 and 2012 football games will be broadcast live on 830 WCCO-AM Radio.

After the University of Minnesota Gophers left WCCO in March, air time opened on Saturdays and negotiations began between the station and St. Thomas.

“They needed to fill that time with something and wanted to continue to broadcast college football,” said Mark Dienhart, St. Thomas executive vice president and chief operating officer. “We were available, interested and based upon their experience at our playoff game last year, attractive I suppose.”

St. Thomas now joins the ranks of MIAC schools with commercial broadcast agreements, such as St. John’s University.

WCCO broadcast the NCAA playoff game between St. Thomas and Bethel University last December, giving the station its first taste of Tommie football.

“We’re going to have a great broadcast product, and we’re excited,” said Mick Anselmo, WCCO senior vice president and market manager. “We like St. Thomas and the people [who] are running the organization, and we think this would be a good match.”

He added, “I’m excited to have Dave Lee do the play-by-play and Joe Senser, an ex-Viking player, do the color commentary.”

Football coach Glenn Caruso also expressed excitement about the opportunity.

“College football on Saturday afternoons on WCCO has been a longtime staple, dating back to the 1920s, and to have that brand recognition as a part of your program is a thrill,” Caruso said.

Dienhart said the air time could provide a marketing opportunity for the university.

“It gives us a chance to really invite people, prospective students or others, to learn more about St. Thomas,” Dienhart said.

“We think this is a great way to spread the word on the MIAC, and especially St. Thomas, across our tremendous coverage area for WCCO,” Anselmo said. “What a great day for St. Thomas.”

Because the contract is not public, Dienhart said he could not reveal the specific costs involved but said St. Thomas is paying WCCO a “very reasonable carriage fee” that will stay the same for both years of the contract.

Athletic Director Steve Fritz said, “It’s a good deal for us to get two years out of a major market like that. We’re looking for a good relationship, and we hope it’s a win-win for both of us.”

Anselmo said the Tommies are more than just the Gophers’ replacements.

“This isn’t about backfilling on the Gophers,” he said. “We think there is a tremendous amount of excitement in MIAC football, and the Tommies are certainly one of the great teams in that conference.”

Maggie Clemensen can be reached at clem0427@stthomas.edu.