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Pac-12 parts ways with commissioner Larry Scott after 12 years of leading conference

Jack Baer
·Writer
·3-min read
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 06: Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott at the pre-game press conference before the Pac-12 Championship football game between the Oregon Ducks and the Utah Utes at Levi's Stadium on December 6, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. The Oregon Ducks won 37-15. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
Larry Scott is out at the Pac-12. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

The Pac-12 conference is parting ways with commissioner Larry Scott, the conference announced on Wednesday.

Scott’s exit, said to be “mutually agreed” by the conference, marks the end of a 12-year tenure, and comes a year before his contract was set to expire in June 2022. The conference said the decision made early so Scott’s successor can be in place to negotiate its next TV deal.

Scott will remain in the role until June 30, 2021 to assist with the transition. The Pac-12 executive committee will immediately begin a national search to replace Scott. Terms of Scott’s buyout are unknown, per Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel.

Larry Scott’s Pac-12 tenure was rocky

The best that can be said about Scott’s time running the Pac-12 is that he ushered the conference into a new era of college sports. And that’s pretty much what the conference said in its release through University of Oregon president Michael Schill:

“We appreciate Larry’s pioneering efforts in growing the conference by adding new competitive university programs and accelerating the Pac-12 to television network parity with the other conferences,” said Schill. “At one point, our television agreement was the most lucrative in the nation and the debut of the Pac-12 Network helped deliver our championship brand to US and global markets on traditional and digital platforms. That said, the intercollegiate athletics marketplace doesn’t remain static and now is a good time to bring in a new leader who will help us develop our go-forward strategy.”

Being less charitable — and accurate — Scott ushered the conference into a number of questionable decisions and tenuous positions.

Scott’s tenure will, above all, be defined by the conference’s television deal and the creation of the Pac-12 Network, which was supposed to cement its schools’ place as college sports elites when the deal was struck in 2011. That didn’t happen.

The 12-year, $3 billion deal was seen as a landmark at the time, but the Big Ten and SEC have since leaped ahead in revenue while the Pac-12 has lagged badly. Badly enough that Scott looked into the unprecedented step of selling a slice of the Pac-12’s business to private investors, which never materialized.

That lag has coincided with little national success from the conference’s revenue sports. In the entire history of the College Football Playoff, only two Pac-12 teams have made the event (Oregon in 2015 and Washington in 2017). Only one men’s basketball team, Oregon in 2017, has made the Final Four in the last decade. During Scott’s entire tenure, no Pac-12 team has won a national championship in football or basketball.

Those failings were exacerbated by curiously high expenses, none greater the Pac-12 Network maintaining a lavish San Francisco headquarters that cost the conference nearly $7 million in rent per year. There were also matters like Scott’s $7,500-a-night suite in Las Vegas, his use of private jets to get around and his nation-leading salary, which will add up to an estimated $40 million over his tenure.

Scott’s successor will have plenty to deal with once they take over, and it’s hard to see the Pac-12 being able to afford, literally, an administration seeing similar success.

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