Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff at the conference's basketball media day in Oct. 2022. Oct 26, 2022; San Francisco, CA, USA; Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff during Pac-12 Media Day at Pac-12 Network Studios. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The largest talking point around the Pac-12 has been how the conference still does not have an announced media deal for the 2024-25 seasons and beyond. Their exclusive negotiating window with current partners ESPN and Fox expired last October, and since then, there have been all sorts of claims about who a new deal might be with and when it would come. Those included conference officials’ “relief” after hearing about the Big 12’s deals and “optimism” about exceeding them last November (which is looking like more and more of a stretch), a board statement from February that the schools “look forward to consummating successful media rights deal(s) in the very near future,” “imminent” comments from presidents in February and March, “late spring/early summer” comments in April, and more.

Earlier this week, Ross Dellenger of Yahoo Sports reported that the Pac-12 would not in fact announce a new deal at their media day Friday. But, of course, the media deal was a subject of conversation anyway. That was much to the dismay of Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff, though, who wanted the media to talk about anything else.

Yes, telling media not to focus on a notable story definitely means they won’t do that! And when Kliavkoff did eventually offer some remarks on the media deal, he made a claim that the wait is actually beneficial for the conference:

That one got some notable responses:

https://twitter.com/AP_Duke/status/1682426906811965440

While procrastinators everywhere may have some appreciation for Kliavkoff’s logic, it doesn’t necessarily hold up in the real world. Yes, from a broadcasting perspective, the conference doesn’t necessarily “need” to have a deal done more than a year before it kicks in; broadcasters do need some lead time to line up equipment and crews, especially if they’re not existing conference partners, but it’s been done in shorter windows. But from a stability perspective, the repeated wait for the Pac-12 deal doesn’t seem helpful, especially with the Big 12 (which has seemingly been competing with the Pac-12 for schools) already locking up deals with ESPN and Fox that starts a full year later in 2025.

And this has perhaps already hurt the Pac-12 on the expansion front. San Diego State recently aborted their attempt to abandon the Mountain West, which many thought was about the Aztecs going to the Pac-12. It’s certainly not completely confirmable from the outside at this point, but if a Pac-12 deal had been struck before the Aztecs’ “Should I stay or should I go?” musings, they at least would have known the likely financial ramifications of that decision.

And it’s the same for other schools mulled as expansion possibilities to get the Pac-12 back up above 10 schools after the 2024-25 departures of USC and UCLA for the Big Ten. With no deal and no certainty, it’s hard for the Pac-12 to bring anyone else in. And that’s probably part of why they’re getting far less expansion discussion than the Big 12 and its settled TV deal are.

This wait still may be okay for the Pac-12 in the end, of course. If none of their current schools leave (which is far from a certainty, but looks a little better as a possibility following the schools agreeing to (but not signing) a grant of rights last month), and if whatever long-anticipated deal comes in works out okay on the financial side, they may be fine. The wait itself is not necessarily a bad indication for how the deal will be, especially considering some chatter about potential partners wanting to wait to announce deals so they didn’t overlap with layoff stories. But “The longer we wait, the better our options get” is a very suspect quote, as it’s hard to see any actual benefits for the conference from the delay (and it’s easy to see potential harms). And it’s not the first highly-dubious quote from Kliavkoff.

 

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.