Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Scott: Deal with Big 12 wasn't assumed
NEW YORK -- Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott walked away from
his failed attempt to create the nation's first super conference
feeling as if he sent a message about the future of his league.
"The Pac-10 that people got to know over the last week is the new Pac-10," Scott said Wednesday in a 45-minute telephone interview with The Associated Press, the first since Texas and four
other Big 12 schools turned down a chance to join his conference.
"I think you will continue to see innovative, bold steps that
we take to make the Pac-10 and our schools the best they can be."
A year after Scott left his position as head of the Women's
Tennis Association to become Pac-10 commissioner -- a hiring that
made few national headlines -- he nearly changed the landscape of
"There's a reason they brought me in," he said. "There's a
reason they didn't go with a traditional candidate from college
Scott said he never felt he had an agreement in place with Texas
that would have led to the Longhorns, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State,
Texas Tech and Texas A&M joining the Pac-10.
"In my experience in professional sports and college sports,
nothing's ever done until it's done," Scott said.
"We developed this plan with our eyes wide open. We knew that this would be seen as a very bold stroke and there
would be all kinds of reasons why it might not be possible at the
"I think there was a sense that this was an incredibly
compelling vision and certainly created a lot of excitement among
the schools that we were talking to as well as our members. And it
captured a lot of other people's attention as well."
The Pac-10 did land one Big 12 school in Colorado.
"We realized that there could be all kinds of complications in
terms of pulling off such a bold move," he said. "That's why we
moved first on Colorado as a beachhead, to put a stake in the
ground to keep available other options that we're very interested
in in terms of expansion that might be more modest in nature."
The next part of Plan B fell into place hours after Scott spoke
to the AP, when the Pac-10 announced it had invited Utah to become
its 12th member.
Utah officials have not said what they will do, but the school
has announced a news conference for Thursday, and it would be
shocking if the Utes did not leave the Mountain West for the
Scott said that when the news came down that Texas and the rest were
not joining the Pac-10, he called Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe to
congratulate him on saving his conference.
The Big 12 also lost Nebraska to the Big Ten but will remain as a 10-team league.
Scott said he believes that the expansion to 16 teams failed for three reasons.
"Number one, I think there was a tsunami of Texas political
pressure from Texas A&M and Baylor," he said. "Secondly, it's
clear there was a great national fear that such a compelling plan
would cause dramatic domino effects nationally with other
Lastly, Scott added he was given strict parameters to work with
by Pac-10 university leaders.
"My marching orders were clear," he said. "There are essential principles
and values the Pac-10 holds true to that we were not going to
compromise as part of trying to get a deal done."
Scott would not elaborate, but he did say Texas would not have
been allowed to start its own television network and keep all
revenues from it if the Longhorns had joined the Pac-10 -- which
they will be allowed to do by the Big 12.
"Schools ultimately make decisions for what's best for them,"
"We presented a vision of what the future of the modern
collegiate conference might look like, and I was absolutely thrilled
with the reception that it got and the excitement that it created
nationally, and it really validated that it is a compelling vision.
"I took away so many positives from this process."
Scott, an All-American tennis player at Harvard, spent six years
as CEO of the WTA.
He was long an advocate for merging the men's and women's tours,
helped secure an $88 million, six-year sponsorship deal with Sony
Ericsson for the tour and was instrumental in getting equal prize
money for men and women at the sport's 10 biggest events.
But he had never worked in college sports before.
Scott was hired to inject energy and innovation into a conference
that was getting left behind by the other major players in college
sports, such as the Big Ten and Southeastern Conferences. The
latest figures show the Pac-10 paid its members between $7 million and $11.5
million. The Big Ten pays all its members almost double the highest
payout in the Pac-10.
"He thinks very strategically and very smart long term, and as
you well know it's all going to come down to how good of a media
contract he negotiates going forward in the next 18 months,"
Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said.
The Pac-10 is exploring the possibility of starting its own TV
network, like the Big Ten has, and is hoping for a payday at least
similar to the reported $1.86 billion, 12-year deal the ACC just
signed with ESPN when it negotiates a new television deal next
Even though he couldn't pull off the Pac-16, Scott said the fact
that the Pac-10 attempted to make such a power play was a positive.
"If you want to say we've swung for the fences, we're
thrilled," Scott said. "This is the second inning at best. You'll
start seeing this summer some of our other plans and innovations
start to be unveiled.
"At the end of the day, I feel good about the process."