Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has become increasingly unpopular with the conference’s fans, and he may be losing the confidence of its administrators as well.
Scott informed staffers for the Pac-12 as well as the Pac-12 Network that anyone making over $100,000 or more annually would see their salaries cut as part of the conference’s operating budget for the next year, according to John Canzano of the Oregonian. Employees learned of the cuts via email last Wednesday at the start of a scheduled 4th of July holiday, and the nature and timing of the news has left many angered.
The conference’s financial situation has also raised questions about Scott’s future. Internally, some are wondering whether the Pac-12 CEO group, which consists of the league’s chancellors and presidents, may move to release Scott from his contract early. Scott’s deal expires in the summer of 2022, but league administrators have their eye on 2024, when the current media rights deals expire. The state of the Pac-12 Network, which reaches fewer than 18 million households and laid off eight percent of its staffers in April, is worrisome to those at the top.
“There’s serious talk amongst the Pac-12 CEO Group to end his contract ahead of the expiration date to have a fighting chance to save the (conference) Networks,” one high-level administrator told Canzano.
The gap between the Pac-12 and other Power 5 conferences is at least partially down to the Pac-12 Network’s limited reach and the lack of revenue it subsequently generates for the conference’s schools. On-field results have reflected that, as the league has only had two teams selected to the College Football Playoff since its inception in 2014. Washington’s 2016 selection is the league’s most recent, while the 2014 Oregon Ducks are the only Pac-12 school to have won a College Football Playoff game. Those struggles have become apparent in men’s basketball as well, with the 2017 Oregon squad serving as the conference’s lone Final Four team since Scott became commissioner in 2009.
In the end, it’s all about the money. The Pac-12 isn’t making enough of it compared to what it should be making. That’s part of why Scott is disliked by fans, and why he appears to be growing increasingly unpopular with school administrators as well.