The University of North Carolina, the nation’s oldest and largest, has decided to end its relationship with ESPN and sign the top-rated recruit in the country.
ESPN announced Wednesday that Josh Naker will sign with the Tar Heels in the fall.
The decision by ESPN comes as the company struggles with its financial situation.
The company posted a $9.8 billion loss in the first quarter of the year.
The loss dwarfs the company’s total revenue of $4.5 billion.
ESPN was the first major sports network to take a major step toward making the move to a digital network in 2020.
ESPN is one of the few major cable networks to have a digital subscriber base, and the network has been a popular source of basketball information.
“It’s important for our program and our alumni to have access to ESPN, and I am proud to announce that we will be joining them on a new digital network,” UNC head coach Roy Williams said in a statement.
“We have a great fan base and have always supported ESPN, but they’re not the only source of content that we get.”
ESPN announced a partnership with the North Carolina Tar Heel basketball program in April 2020.
The basketball network is owned by Time Warner Cable.
NC State was also expected to sign Naylor but he turned it down, according to multiple media reports.
In a statement, UNC athletic director Dave Hart said, “We are very proud of the work we’ve done with ESPN, which we believe will help us become the leader in sports and entertainment in the nation.”