When SEC Media Days roll around in mid-July, ESPN/SEC Network may not have Paul Finebaum there to cover them. Last week, it was reported that the two sides had not yet had "meaningful" conversations about extending his contract.
The Sporting News report says that ESPN and Finebaum's representation at Creative Artists Agency were embroiled in a game of "chicken" over the SEC Network personality's future.
A new report describes the situation as a bit more dire than that.
Clay Travis' site "Outkick The Coverage" cites multiple sources in its report that Finebaum is fed up with the unsettled negotiation.
In an era of high-priced free agents across the sports landscape, one media free agent is creating a stir at ESPN and the SEC — Paul Finebaum remains unsigned as his contract nears expiration next month. Due to what multiple sources have described as incompetence bordering on malfeasance, ESPN has so bungled its negotiations with the SEC Network and ESPN commentator that Finebaum is seriously contemplating offers elsewhere and has let ESPN know that if his deal is not completed in short order he will not be present at SEC Media Days in Atlanta when they begin on July 16th.
According to sources Finebaum, who declined comment to Outkick, was told in October of last year by then-president of ESPN John Skipper not to worry about his soon to expire contract. Nine months later, with limited contact from ESPN executives, Finebaum has now reached the limits of his patience with the network and is preparing to depart. That’s despite substantial efforts by an increasingly frustrated SEC office over ESPN’s inability to get the deal done.
Paul Finebaum is probably the most important personality for ESPN at the SEC Network.
The network simulcasts his radio show during the week. He is also the host of the SEC Network version of College GameDay, SEC Nation, and does plenty of other appearances around the ESPN family of networks.
College football, and the SEC specifically, continue to be extremely important for ESPN, so one would think the network would want to lock Finebaum in long term.
It should also be noted that Travis is a constant critic of ESPN, so there is the potential that colors the direction of this report a bit. Still, it fits with what we have recently heard from Sporting News.
Earlier today, ESPN finalized a new deal with another prominent multi-platform personality: Dan Le Batard.